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Why Erin Andrews decided to open up on the toughest year of her life now

After enduring a cancer diagnosis and a painfully public trial, Erin Andrews opened up to The MMQB as she prepared to work the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl LI. How did she decide it was the right time to share her story?

I first met Erin Andrews last January, when I embedded for a weekend with the FOX NFL crew for a story at The MMQB. We got along, sharing notes as two females in a male-dominated industry, and stayed in touch over the next few months.

I watched her reveal deep emotional scars at her civil trial last March, and when we met up last May when I was in Los Angeles for another assignment, I told her I thought she had a story to tell. Before I met Erin, I had only known her as the world does: in the role of glossy sideline reporter. But there was something so powerful as she disclosed part of her true self—vulnerable, wounded, but strong enough to take a stand for a gross violation of her privacy—and that message felt important to share for all women.

How Erin Andrews came out of her trial and battle with cancer stronger than ever

It’s O.K. not to be O.K. You also have the right to fight back; she set a model for victims of so many of these kinds of crimes to say you can go pursue these cases in court. We bounced the idea around about the story as fall approached—the angle: how the 2016 football season would mark her return to normalcy—but it didn’t work out. I circled back about a month ago, to see if she’d be interested in doing the piece. She said yes, cryptically telling me there “had been a lot of developments over the past few months.”

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And so I met her in Green Bay on Jan. 8, in advance of the wild-card game between the Packers and Giants. That’s when she disclosed another bombshell: She was diagnosed with cervical cancer in September. Even as life threw Erin another curveball, so many of the themes from our initial conversation remained the same. It was important for her to do what she loves and focus on the things she could control. Even as the outside world perceived something about her or tried to frame her story, only she knew the pain she endured. And she found the strength to pull through, without missing a day of work.

Perhaps now it was a more important story to tell. I’m honored she trusted me to do it justice.