ESPN reporter Holly Rowe celebrated a “super-emotional” milestone on Monday - her last day of chemotherapy treatment.
She was diagnosed two years ago with desmoplastic melanoma, a skin cancer.
To mark the day she posted a thank you on Twitter to her colleagues, doctors and the sports world for supporting her fight. Her video has been viewed more than 1 million times since she posted it Monday.
“Big day in my life,” she announced, then turned to her son, McKylin sitting near her.
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“McKylin, what’s today?”
“Last day of chemo,” he said.
Rowe said she’s “so excited slash terrified, that maybe my future is possible. My doctor thinks it’s safe to go off treatment and monitor with scans. Just wanted to say a very special thank you to everybody.
“I could not have gotten through this without all of the prayer and encouragement from everyone, my family, my friends, my colleagues, my bosses at ESPN, V Foundation, my doctors at UCLA med center, my nurses in oncology, and fans, athletes, coaches, administrators. I have felt so loved and supported ... so thank you so much.
“And I promise that every day I’ve been gifted moving forward I will pay my blessings forward to help others who are battling this disease.”
Rowe, who has covered the Big 12 from the sidelines since 2004, was in Kansas City in March for the Big 12 tournament. In an interview with sports columnist Blair Kerkhoff of The Kansas City Star, she supported the idea of a Kansas City bid to host a Final Four.
“I cannot recommend this site and these people and this sports commission highly enough,” she told Kerkhoff. “The NCAA needs to bring the women’s Final Four to Kansas City because I know firsthand how great tournaments are in this community and its love for basketball here.”
Kerkhoff wrote: “The feeling is mutual from the Big 12 community and has been even more heartfelt over the last two years, since Rowe was diagnosed with desmoplastic melanoma in 2016.”
The cancer, he noted, began with a mole that looked odd, and led to two recurrences. At that point in March, Rowe was having treatments every 21 days.
“Because it was basketball season when it (originally) happened, the most response I got was from my Big 12 family,” she told Kerkhoff.
Most recently, Rowe talked about her health with the WNBA’s Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm as part of the league’s campaign for breast cancer awareness. The team posted part of their discussion on Twitter last week.
What was the hardest part of having cancer, Stewart asked her.
“Oof,” Rowe said. “I think the hardest part is the uncertainty. I started realizing that none of my tomorrows were promised. And I got, today, at the doctor, he’s like, you need to talk to your son and let him know this is serious and things aren’t going well.
“And I was like, ‘Oh, I thought I was going to beat this and this was just going to be like, whatever.’ And it was really sobering and really scary and I would say that’s the hardest part.”
Stewart mentioned a day earlier this year when the two of them watched March Madness games together.
“I’m pretty sure you were doing chemo,” Stewart told her. “So I wanted to ask you, I wanted to go with you but I didn’t know how to ask that. I can sit there and talk to you and keep you company.”
“That’s very sweet. Thank you,” Rowe told her, tearing up. “So you ask about hard parts. I guess I don’t think about the hard parts that much. but you brought something up ... it’s hard to ask people to help you. So I’ll try to do better with that.”
Rowe said cancer patients need “fans” just like basketball players do.
“You have these fans that cheer you on all the time,” she told Stewart. “We need fans to cheer us on ... we need all these fans in the crowd to tell us we can do it and to lift us up when it’s hard.”