'Dancing with the Stars' Erin Andrews talks cervical cancer and behind-the-scenes secrets
By Hannah Kramer
Mar 8th, 2018 at 11:58AM
Erin Andrews' nearly two-decade career has taken her to the sidelines of the Super Bowl, the ESPN desk and the Dancing with the Stars stage, reporting as the nation's biggest names battle it out for that year's title.
But at home, the sportscaster had to take on a different kind of battle: Cervical cancer.
Despite being "really good about going to to see the doctor," and responsible with her wellness checkups, Andrews didn't see the diagnosis coming when she got the call in early fall of 2016.
“I was going in right before the football season started and just got word back that my exam did not go well," she explained to AOL Lifestyle. She didn't have any symptoms of the cancer and maintained a healthy lifestyle -- but at 38, Andrews fell into a vulnerable group. Over half the women diagnosed with the disease are between the ages of 35 and 55.
“I was a wreck. I was on the road, getting ready for Week 3 of football season. I called my husband, I called my mom and dad and I remember asking my doctor ‘what am I supposed to tell my family?’”.
Asserted Dr. Jessica Shepherd, the OB/GYN partnering with Andrews for Hologic, Erin's diagnosis was an oddity. “Erin is an outlier because she went to the doctor every year," she explained.
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Before being diagnosed, Andrews' knowledge on the disease was limited. "I didn't have any knowledge of cervical cancer. I knew I probably didn't want it," she explained.
After two surgeries, Andrews was luckily cancer-free. But given the stats, not every woman is as lucky as Andrews -- and that's something she wants to change. “It’s not being talked about, at all," the almost 40-year-old said.
"Every two hours a woman dies from cervical cancer. I had no idea about that stat until I partnered with Hologic,” said Andrews. “I think it’s important for someone like myself and someone like Dr. Shepherd to be involved to get this information out because women don’t know that."
Echoed Dr. Shepherd, "When you look at that stat, of the 12,000 women who are diagnosed with cervical cancer, 4,000 die. So if we have the power to have the tools with the cervical cancer screenings, and the Pap tests and HPV…then we can decrease this statistic.”
She explained that there are steps women can take to actually prevent the cancer:
"When we look at statistics for specifically cervical cancer, we really want women to, again, stop smoking. Also the age at which they start having sex is an important part of that, too. I think that goes with the dialogue of mothers to talk to their doctors about whether that means getting the [HPV] vaccine as early as they can."
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“Access is maybe one of the reasons [as many women] don’t come in. But it’s covered in the well women visit. Insurance covers that. Even if you don’t have insurance, there are organizations that do Pap tests and HPV tests for no cost," said Dr. Shepherd.
“We’re making sure women know that cervical cancer is preventable and treatable — and those are two things you don’t always see in cancers."
Back at work, Erin continues to advocate for cancer screening and educate women to make sure they know that cervical cancer isn't just treatable, but preventable as well.
But it's not all cancer-talk for Andrews, who regularly jokes around on-set of DWTS. "Tom [Bergeron] and I try really hard to lighten everybody up because they're so stressed. A lot of the times they're fighting," she said.
Another part that viewers don't see is the hidden microphones and near wardrobe malfunctions. "Everybody always asks 'well, where are the microphones?'," she explained. "Well, they're in the bras for the girls, or the guys, use your imagination."
She's normally hosting with "7 microphone packs" at once. "That's the worst part of the whole gig, them trying to figure out where to put the mics. Because your dress is already so tight ... and they weigh you down."
"We always have a different dress per show, and then we always have a backup in case something goes wrong. There are a lot of times where it's 5 minutes to show and it's like 'Holy crap, this just broke!'," she divulged.
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