For someone who hosts a show on ESPN every day, Molly Qerim has not maintained a particularly high profile. Her job as First Take’s full-time moderator, no-time opinionator means she doesn’t often offer fiery takes, and aside from a relationship with colleague Jalen Rose that slips into headlines once in a while, she doesn’t often make news away from the camera.
But in an interview with Bustle published Wednesday, Qerim spoke extensively about one aspect of her personal life: She suffers from stage IV endometriosis, the most severe level of a condition that affects an estimated one in 10 women of reproductive age.
In the interview, Qerim explained how the diagnosis affects her life and her career.
After her diagnosis, Qerim had to learn how to balance her career goals as a sports anchor and moderator with managing her new health condition. She says that she chose to “approach [endometriosis] almost like it’s any another job that I have to take care of and manage.” For Qerim, that meant making several lifestyle changes to better cope with her health condition. “My friends would always joke that I’m ‘the grandmother’ and ‘the homebody’ because I can’t stay up past nine o’clock, but a lot of that is rest is so important for me,” she explains. “I have to make sure to get a good night’s sleep whenever I can, and sometimes I have to be really disciplined. There are games that I want to stay up and watch, so I just have to DVR them.”
Qerim, who joined ESPN in 2015 after stints at NFL Network and CBS Sports, said her current network has been supportive as she has dealt with her endometriosis but that she had run into problems at a previous job.
From watching her on First Take, you’d probably never believe she struggled with her diagnosis, but, she says, “when I first found out [about my endometriosis], I didn’t really want anyone to know, because I was afraid they would hold it against me.” Qerim’s current job has been extremely supportive of her taking time for her health when necessary, though she tells Bustle she’s only taken time off following surgeries to remove the endometriosis. However, at another job, Qerim claims she was body shamed while taking hormone shots, another treatment for endometriosis, which can cause physical side effects. “At the time, that [body shaming] was crushing because I thought to myself, you don’t even know what I have to do to get here every day; sometimes I don’t leave my house all weekend so I can be here at work,” she says. “I think that’s why I was so scared to be open about having it.”
As Qerim’s experience at her previous job shows, she’s taking a risk by going public with her endometriosis diagnosis, especially in a male-dominated industry. But from her interview with Bustle, it sounds as if that was part of the reason she wanted to speak up.
“I hope people that have endometriosis understand that they’re not alone,” says Qerim. “We’re just starting to become more outspoken about it, and we’re creating more awareness, which I hope that drives more research. We no longer have to suffer in silence.”