ESPN re­porter back af­ter cancer

Nearly two years af­ter her ini­tial cancer di­ag­no­sis

Cape Breton Post - - Arts/Entertainment - AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Be­tween dash­ing for in­ter­views with coaches and chat­ting with NBA com­mis­sioner Adam Sil­ver, Holly Rowe was back in her el­e­ment Thurs­day night. It was a wel­come respite for ESPN’s vet­eran side­line re­porter nearly two years af­ter her ini­tial cancer di­ag­no­sis.

ESPN has en­sured Rowe a spot on those side­lines for years to come with a con­tract ex­ten­sion - for­tu­nate tim­ing for Rowe, whose cancer has re­cently re­curred and spread.

Rowe told The As­so­ci­ated Press on Thurs­day that she is again bat­tling cancer, shar­ing the news hours af­ter ESPN an­nounced it had ex­tended her deal.

“I don’t think about hav­ing cancer when I’m out here,” Rowe told The As­so­ci­ated Press be­fore tipoff of a WNBA game be­tween Min­nesota and New York, her first this sea­son.

“Mon­day, I have a CAT scan and have treat­ment. I’ll be a cancer pa­tient on Mon­day. I’m not think­ing about it to­day.”

Rowe was wor­ried she’d be among those laid off by the net­work last month. In­stead, she’ll re­main on the side­lines for col­lege foot­ball, bas­ket­ball, volleyball, soft­ball and WNBA games. She’ll also keep her health in­sur­ance, which has been a vi­tal tool in her fight against melanoma.

“I was re­ally grate­ful be­cause my con­tract was up in April,” she said. “It would have been so easy for me to be one of those peo­ple. For me to have health in­sur­ance right now will save my life fi­nan­cially. This is help­ing me in my re­cov­ery. If this had been taken away, it would have been re­ally hard for me.”

Rowe has been with the net­work for two decades, and ESPN ran on Thurs­day a first-per­son piece about her ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing through her di­ag­no­sis. ESPN senior co-or­di­nat­ing pro­ducer Lee Fit­ting said the net­work was lucky to have Rowe stick­ing around.

“Holly’s en­ergy and year­long ded­i­ca­tion to ESPN is a tes­ta­ment to her strength and re­siliency all while coura­geously bat­tling cancer over the last 16 months,” Fit­ting said.

“She is beloved by her peers, coaches and ath­letes that she in­ter­acts with daily and her cre­ativ­ity and pro­fes­sion­al­ism on ev­ery­thing she touches shines through on our cov­er­age.”

Rowe has re­mained among the net­work’s most rec­og­niz­able faces, and even since get­ting sick, she’s been on-air for some of its big­gest broad­casts. She was there when Mor­gan Wil­liam hit the shot to end UConn’s win­ning streak at the Fi­nal Four. She also in­ter­viewed Clem­son re­ceiver Hunter Ren­fow mo­ments af­ter his last­sec­ond TD catch to win the na­tional cham­pi­onship.

“She is a gen­uine per­son and has a nat­u­ral cu­rios­ity about peo­ple which leads to her be­ing great at her job,” said ESPN an­nouncer Re­becca Lobo, who has worked with Rowe for years at the women’s Fi­nal Four.

“And she keeps me laugh­ing con­stantly with her fash­ion ad­vice and danc­ing tips.”

Rowe was hon­oured last

month by the Cancer Sup­port Com­mu­nity with their Founders Award for Em­pow­er­ment. She was pre­sented the award by for­mer Vice-Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den.

“It was a to­tal sur­prise and such an hon­our to meet him,” Rowe said.

With her most re­cent di­ag­no­sis, Rowe is due for treat­ment ev­ery 21 days while try­ing a new amino ther­apy.

She’ll con­tinue to hit the side­lines, though, and wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I re­cently had five days in a row off,” Rowe said.

“That’s a long stretch. I was a mess, I was sit­ting around think­ing about hav­ing cancer. It’s ridicu­lous. I’ve got to stay busy or I’ll go crazy. This is the world’s best ther­apy. Ev­ery sin­gle day I’m work­ing, I’m ab­sorbed in other peo­ple. Some­body wins. I need to see peo­ple win­ning and fight­ing through ad­ver­sity. That helps me so much.”

Rowe was first di­ag­nosed with cancer nearly two years ago af­ter notic­ing a small spot

on her chest. It turned out to be a big tu­mour un­der her skin.

May is melanoma aware­ness month, and Rowe wanted to let peo­ple know that they should get checked reg­u­larly.

“When in doubt, check it out and cover up. There’s no sun­tan in the world worth what I’m go­ing through right now,” she said. “Wear long sleeves and cover up.”

To learn more about melanoma: http://www.cureme­lanoma.org/about-melanoma/ melanoma-aware­ness/

AP PHOTO

Holly Rowe stands on the court at Madi­son Square Gar­den in New York be­fore a WNBA bas­ket­ball game be­tween the New York Lib­erty and the Min­nesota Lynx, Thurs­day, Rowe was back on the side­lines for her first WNBA game of the sea­son Thurs­day night. It was a wel­come re­prieve for her from her bout with melanoma which has re­curred and spread. Ear­lier in the day, ESPN an­nounced that it had re-signed Rowe to a mul­ti­year con­tract ex­ten­sion. She was wor­ried she be one of the peo­ple ESPN let go last month.

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