“She’s always the first one to make a joke,” says one longtime associate of the ABC show. “She doesn’t show that things bother her, so you would never guess that she was going through something so awful as cancer.”
“She never discussed it,” added another source.
Andrews, who sued the companies that own the Nashville Marriott after a peeping Tom released a nude video of her on the Internet, had just settled her stalking case in April when a doctor told her in June that she needed surgery for cervical cancer. “When you hear the word cancer, you fear the worst,” her father told Sports Illustrated. “When it’s your child, you think to yourself, you think to God: Take me, not her. She has been through enough. She is just getting her life back.”
SI reports that Andrews missed two tapings of DWTS after learning of her diagnosis — but the official word was that she needed time off to support her boyfriend (now fiancé) Jarret Stoll, whose nephew had been killed in a car accident. “I don’t believe anyone knew what was going on,” said the associate.
Andrews, 38, underwent surgery Oct. 11 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Two days later, she boarded a plane to Green Bay, Wisconsin, to film a football feature. “Let’s just say the doctor didn’t recommend that,” Andrews told SI. “But just as I felt during my trial, sports were my escape. I needed to be with my crew.”
Andrews is expected to return as a co-host on DWTS when the show’s 24th season kicks off March 20.