Behind The Scenes

ESPN’s Shelley Smith vows to “make the mess the message”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Earlier this month, SportsCenter reporter Shelley Smith (@ShelleyESPN) announced via an espnW essay and social media that she is battling breast cancer. Smith also interviewed former SportsCenter anchor and current Good Morning America host Robin Roberts about the fight against cancer. In this essay for Front Row, Smith shares her thoughts on her disclosure and what the future holds.

My entire reason for going public is to hammer home the importance of early detection – self examination and regular mammograms and ultrasounds. I want women to remember it’s not just a lump to look for, it’s appearance, shape, skin changes and pain. Science has come such a long way in treating breast cancer and keeping us alive, but first we have to alert the scientists and doctors.

I’m so fortunate to have a daughter, Dylann, who is by my side on the important days, and to work for a company that has given me such support and that I have no need financially because of our insurance package. I do worry about women who can’t take time off because of work or family obligations and thus, don’t want to know if they have breast cancer. We must raise money and grants for women in need, and I’m partnering with the National Breast Cancer Foundation to help make that happen.

My next steps will come in January: surgery, followed by lengthy chemotherapy and radiation. By this time next year, though, I hope to have some hair back and be back trolling the sidelines, attending games and practices and breaking news.

I will never lose my spirit, or my inner strength. I am blessed to have a forum with which to spread my message.

It was Robin Roberts’ mother who said, “Make your mess your message.”

This is for Robin’s mom, too.

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