Perseverance, Resiliency and Erin Andrews

This morning I came across a story on MMQB about unbelievable year Erin Andrews is having.

As many may know, Erin Andrews, NFL on Fox’s lead sideline reporter, had been dealing with a crazed stalker in court. I cannot even imagine the stress that must have come along with that, but it was finally settled in the Fall after justice was finally served. Beyond the trial, though, she revealed to MMQB, that she had been diagnosed with Cervical Cancer right in the heart of football season:

Andrews was in a meeting at the Giants’ team facility on the Saturday morning before the Week 3 game between New York and Washington. Her doctor’s number popped up on her phone. Andrews excused herself. She was calling with the results of…tests, which were now conclusive: cervical cancer.

Andrews did not tell colleagues of her diagnosis. She worked that Sunday’s game, then flew home to L.A. She missed the Monday and Tuesday tapings of Dancing with the Stars; ABC said she took time off to support boyfriend (now fiancé) Jarret Stoll and his grieving family. (Stoll’s 17-year-old nephew had been killed in a car accident that weekend.) That, in part, was true. But Andrews was mostly dealing with her diagnosis.

Receiving some sort of medical diagnosis is  chilling feeling. Regardless of the severity, it brings with it a feeling of mortality and vulnerability. What’s incredibly inspiring, and moving for that matter, is how Erin Andrews handled her diagnosis:

Before she was wheeled into the operating room [on October 11] at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Andrews gave strict orders to her oncologist: “I’m not watching any football games at home. This is [Fox’s] Super Bowl year, and I’m not missing the Super Bowl.”

On a Thursday night, two days after the surgery, Andrews was on a red-eye from L.A. to Green Bay. She filmed a feature with Packers wideout Jordy Nelson on Friday morning.

“Should I have been standing for a full game five days after surgery? Let’s just say the doctor didn’t recommend that,” Andrews says. “But just as I felt during my trial, sports were my escape. I needed to be with my crew.”

Andrews talks about sports as her escape, and I can agree wholeheartedly with her that there is nothing more important in the face of adversity than some sort of mental and emotional release.

The things that we have in our lives: sports, activities, hobbies, arts, friendships, jobs or whatever they may be, are often the exact source of motivation through adversity that we all can use.

It’s amazing that we often look so far and wide for stories or different sources of motivation, when quite often they already exist in our lives and are sitting right in front of us.

Personally, I invest so much time, passion and energy towards a few specific things to help keep my mind away from cystic fibrosis and the constant burden that comes with it that I am able to self motivate in times of stress.

In many ways, my love for ice hockey, coaching and being a fan of both the New York Rangers and Green Bay Packers are what do it for me.

On a more daily basis, the incredibly high expectations that I set for myself when it comes to my productivity, activity levels and success are what keep me level headed.

On most weekends I prioritize watching Packer games ahead of anything else because I know that for those few hours on Sunday, there’s nothing else in the world of concern for me. The results of games certainly dictate my emotions for the rest of the night, but for that period of time, cystic fibrosis is the furthest thing from my mind (needless to say I wasn’t so happy when the Falcons stomped over my beloved Packers this past weekend).

But, ultimately, that’s the reason sports exist. Beyond the entertainment value, sports offer an escape from the every day routine and nonsense that we deal with. For Erin Andrews, football is her job and passion in life.

“Football is such a huge part of my life,” Andrews says. “It helped me get through the trial. On the witness stand, I said being on the field is ‘my happiness, my escape,’ and I truly believe that. I couldn’t wait to return to the sideline.”

The truth of the matter is that we all have that one thing in our lives, you just have to find what it is for you.

I think back to the time when I was a senior in high school and going through football training camp with a PICC line in my arm; or to the time I was a sophomore in college, stuck in the hospital, perhaps the I have ever been, and knew nothing would stop me from traveling to Super Bowl XLV to watch my beloved Packers play; or the time I fought through yet another exacerbation to have the chance to play hockey outdoors at Yankees Stadium; or more recently a few months ago when I powered through a procedure early in the morning so I could get out on the ice that afternoon for my high school hockey team’s practice.

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Playing hockey where everyone else plays baseball

If there is a pattern I have noticed in my life, it’s that I never hesitate to put myself through hell and back simply so I can do everything that I want to do on my own terms, even when it comes to doing things that may not benefit my health in the short term. Without the ability to do LIVE, I think I would quickly lose the capacity to continuously motivate myself.

So when Erin Andrews says that she will not let a life threatening illness stop her from experiencing the pinnacle of her profession, I can identify with her in many ways. The strength it takes to get through that kind thing is far greater than something I can articulate here, but I know that staying in motion, fighting through adversity and pushing towards success, while they times may not be medically recommended, are perhaps the only things worth doing in a moment of stress.

And that’s exactly what Erin Andrews did… from MMQB:

Andrews worked for the two weeks after undergoing her surgery. She didn’t think about cancer, just football, Dancing with the Stars and more football. On Nov. 1, a Tuesday, she returned to Cedars-Sinai for another procedure. “This is it,” she told the oncologist. “Fourth-and-two, fourth quarter. Let’s do this.” On Nov. 17 the doctor called her: The margins were clear. There would be no need for radiation or chemotherapy.

Erin Andrews’ crew usually does the Packer games on Sundays, and I had no idea that any of this was going on behind the scenes, so I find myself incredibly moved by all of this, and I hope you are too!