How a Battle with Cervical Cancer Made Erin Andrews Love Her Body Even More
"I now know that my body is tough as nails. I knew mentally I could go through it, but now I know my body. I appreciate it. I thank it so much."
Erin Andrews is used to being in the spotlight, both as a Fox Sports NFL sideline reporter and cohost of Dancing with the Stars. (Not to mention the high-profile trial for her stalker case, which she won last year.) But, as Sports Illustrated recently reported, when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in September 2016, she kept it under wraps, quietly returning to work just a few days after undergoing surgery to have a portion of her cervix removed. Now, she's opening up about what was going on behind the scenes during her health scare, how she finds balance (in workouts, in dieting, and in life), plus how she is and isn't preparing for her wedding this summer.
Shape: You recently went through a battle with cervical cancer and kept it hidden. What was your thought process behind that decision?
Erin Andrews: "I didn't want to believe it was bad. And then, when we found out it was bad, it was like, 'OK, well I don't care how bad it is. I'm not missing my job,' because honestly, football is my safe place. It's my happy place, so there was nothing that was going to keep me away from it because being at games is really one thing I look forward to. I've said this before, but literally before the second surgery, as they were rolling me in, I said to my doctor, 'It's fourth and two, there's a minute left, you're Tom Brady, you have to win this thing cause I'm not missing the Super Bowl.' I love my doctor so much, he doesn't really care about football, but when I went in for my six-month checkup, he was like, 'I was watching the Super Bowl and I thought of you.'"
Shape: Was there an element of feeling like you didn't want to talk about it with your mostly male coworkers?
EA: "My dad had prostate cancer, so I had some experience with another sex having a type of cancer that affects them specifically. It's a very personal cancer, as is cervical cancer. I know my dad felt a little embarrassed talking about it, but at the same time it's crazy because you shouldn't feel embarrassed, it's part of your body. The guys in my life were all really great about it. I remember I was sitting there with my boyfriend at the time-now fiancé-and my oncologist and I'm not even engaged yet, and my oncologist was like, 'I'm going to be really real with you guys, right now. This is what's happening. If she gets more, this is what we're going to have to cut out.' I mean, there were full on diagrams and we had to have conversations about maybe having a surrogate, maybe doing this, maybe doing that, and he was like, 'OK, OK.' And the guys that I work with on my crew, some of them had an idea, but at the end of it they knew when I was supposed to get the results [after my surgery], and they were texting every day, 'Did you hear? Did you hear?' So, as much as I said I didn't want to bother them about it, they were super, super supportive."
Shape: How did you deal with the stress of that very scary health situation while also balancing a hectic career?
EA: "I got into meditation to help calm me down and I started listening to all my glam [hair and makeup] teams because they are so into gems, stones, meditation, signs-they're very, very creative people. So, I started wearing amethyst because they're all about healing. I starting Maitake mushroom drops-if you look it up, it's used a lot in Chinese medicine. They use it in the chemotherapy, but it's also good for your immune system. I was pumping that through me like six times a day. Also, I was talking to a couple of my girlfriends that are big into spiritual healing and they were telling me to like lay in my bed whenever I started to feel very stressed out or sit wherever the sun was and feel the entire sun and the light over your body, and just think, 'I'm healing. I'm healing through this.' Whether you believe in that stuff you don't, it's about really trying to center yourself. I carry everything right here [points to chest] and when I start to feel stressed, I get hives and I get a tight chest-how can you not be when you go through two surgeries and are thinking you might need a hysterectomy?"
Shape: Now that you're getting married in a couple months, have you been amping up your workouts at all or "shredding for the wedding," as they say?
EA:"Not me. But I wear a dress for a living [on DWTS], so that's why it's kind of like, 'All right, all right. Same old, same old.' Yeah, I mean I want my arms and my back to look good (that'll kind of give you a little detail of what my dress may look like!) but what girl doesn't want that? My job is in a ballroom gown every Monday night, so I kind of have to be consistent with my workouts anyway. I like to work out every single day. I try to say that's my goal. So tomorrow morning, before I get on a flight, I'm getting in an early class here right by my hotel. I don't have a 'sweating for anything' mentality. I always want to work out."
"The biggest wedding worry for me is 'Oh boy, what if I get a good old zapper on the old face the day of?' Let's hope I don't have an amazing cystic acne breakout because I don't need a table for three!"
Shape: I couldn't tell-your skin looks great! Is acne something you struggle with?
EA: "Oh no, I have zits. Especially when you have to wear a ton of makeup all the time, and you're stressed, and traveling. So [when I'm not on TV] I pretty much go makeup-free because, first of all, I have no clue how to put it on. I do my own makeup for FOX-we don't have makeup artists that travel with us. It's hilarious, I'll literally be sitting in the bathroom with my French toast room service and a contour thing, and it's like I'm a coloring book. I send my makeup artists photos like, 'Do I use this brush with this?'"
"Second of all, I don't like wearing it anyways and I like to give my skin a break. But I'm really into my skin routine. I do have a T-zone situation-I'm not afraid to post photos with my zits and be like, 'Wow, really? OK, that's a moment.' Sunscreen is also huge for me because we're by the beach in California. I grew up in Florida and I thought it was super cute and fun to lay out on my roof with coconut oil and lemons in my hair. My grandfather had melanoma and my mom's really good about asking us to get moles checked and stuff, so I'm super into it-like when we go to the beach, I'm putting SPF 100 on me cause I'm super paranoid and also, I don't want to look 87."
Shape: What's your weekly workout routine look like these days?
EA: "I always go to Orange Theory because it gets the cardio, the circuit training, and also the rowing in. I danced growing up, so I never really expected I would be somebody that likes circuit training or anything like that but it's super fun and you get so much done in an hour. I feel badass when I look up at the screen and I see the calories or the stat points. I also love Pilates-it's really great with lengthening and toning. And I also have really enjoyed hot yoga. I feel like I need a 'Namaste' moment right now from all the emails and questions I'm getting about the wedding and the decisions I have to make so I really like a sculpt and sweat-your-brains-out kind of hot yoga."
Shape: How do you find balance in the summer in terms of your diet when there's so much temptation?
EA: "I had chicken parm last night-I didn't finish it, but I had it and a little burrata situation, but that's my whole deal-everything in moderation. You have to be really smart. You just have to watch what you do and that's another reason why my new partnership with White Claw is perfect for me. I like having my hard seltzer with my friends at the beach and don't have to feel bad about it because it's low-calorie, it's low-sugar-it works into my lifestyle. I don't want to go out, have a good time, and then feel bad about myself afterward."
Shape: Did going through this health scare give you a new appreciation for your body?
EA: "Well, I now know that my body is tough as nails. I knew mentally I could go through it, but I know my body. I appreciate it. I thank it so much."
"It's interesting for me because growing up-I hit a growth spurt in third grade-I was always the tallest and the skinniest. I had to be put on weight gainer. I had those elastic jeans because normal jeans would fall off me. And I hated it and was so embarrassed because I was super gangly and awkward-I have horrible posture now because I was so insecure and always hunched over. I wanted to be the girls that were shorter and cute. And I remember my mother always saying to me, 'You'll love your body when you grow up. You'll love this.' And now, I do. I love being tall. Sometimes I tell myself, 'I need to stand up straighter cause I'm proud of this. It's cool.' And it gives me a presence on the field because I'm dealing with 300-pound guys that are 6'2". I'm 5'10". I'm not this little person that's afraid to walk up to them. And I love that."