On the surface, Giuliana Rancic appears to have it all: a loving husband, a newborn son and a flourishing career as a celebrity reporter on E! and star of her own reality show on the Style Network.
But, as a breast cancer survivor, Rancic has also learned to heal and share what she learned with others in the process.
We caught up with the brunette beauty, who was a guest speaker at a Fort Lauderdale breast cancer benefit, Party in Pink. She talked to us about her faith and how a positive attitude helped her overcome the disease.
Q: My friend’s mom was just diagnosed with breast cancer. What advice would you give to her?
A: I always say ask, don’t tell. So if you have a friend or family member, don’t say, “Can I come over tomorrow and bring you groceries?” Just do it. And if they don’t respond when you come over, leave the groceries on the doorstep. What I loved was is I would had friends who texted me and said, “hey, open your door” and I’d go down the stairs and there would be a bag of all the latest magazines and weeklies.
Q: What about the people who have just been diagnosed with the disease?
A: As for being the person diagnosed, it’s hard. You definitely need that time be sad and deal with your grief, anger and denial. But once you do that, think to yourself, “Why did this happen to me?” Is there a positive in all of this? That’s what I did, and I think that’s what got me out of my funk. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t in the first week, it was after a couple of months of feeling sorry for myself. And what I came to terms with is, it happened because God knew I was a loud-mouthed Italian girl who would use my platform and my story to share it with people and to maybe save or change someone’s life by getting my story out there. I found a lot of joy in that, and for me, that whole process, I was able to justify in my mind why I got breast cancer. You don’t need a microphone, a tape recorder or a stage or work for a [news] paper to to make a difference. You just have to be brave enough to share your story and to actually want to help someone.
Q: You first had a very publicized struggle with having a baby and in vitro fertilization, then breast cancer. Through it all, you manged to devote time to helping others with the same issues. Where does the need to share your story come from? Is it something your parents taught you?
A: No, I don’t ever remember being taught that, or my parent’s instilling it in me. It’s funny because my job, like your job, we get to ask everyone else questions, it’s not about us, right? And when it becomes about us, we’re supposed to turn it around and make it about them or else we get in trouble with the boss. [laughs]. But I think I’ve always had love for storytelling. I wanted to become an anchorwoman since I was in the third grade. And then somehow when things started happening to me - and I had the information – the tables turned and I didn’t realize I would be on the other end giving that information about myself. Honestly, come to think of it, as a little girl, I loved the news, and I loved getting information that could help me, and help others, too.
Q: So you have a new baby (two-month-old son Edward), and you’re a survivor of breast cancer. Do you ever think to yourself, “wow, my life is pretty fabulous.” You must pray a lot about that.
A: Yes, I do. I prayed my whole life and as a little girl, I was always pretty religious and spiritual. I always felt like if I asked God for things in a certain way things would happen. I was a typical little Catholic girl and thought, “Oh my gosh, if I do something wrong, it’s a sin.” My faith has always been strong, but when this happened – the cancer – I called on God more than ever - and I saw results, I really did. I don’t just ask anymore, “Hey God, can I have this, this and this like I used to do when I was younger. It’s so funny, a couple weeks ago, I got a Tweet ... I should have retweeted it. It wasn’t to me, the person just used my name, and wasn’t ever looking for a response from me, but it said, “I wish I had Giuliana Rancic’s life: great husband, baby, amazing job ... except the cancer.”
Q: That’ s such a positive thing to Tweet out, but then it ends on such a negative note.
A: Right? It was a bit of a kick in the stomach and it was weird. It’s very easy for people on the outside to say “great life..except for that one thing, right? Would I ever want to go through [cancer] again, absolutely not, If I could erase it, I would. But having gone through it, has made me such a better, strong person and a more appreciative person. I mean I was always an appreciative person before the cancer, but it’s just given me a clearer perspective on life. That’s the thing, I always try to find the positive. And make myself believe it. And I genuinely believe I can find the good things.
Q: Life is certainly not perfect.
A: Yes, breast cancer, it sucks but you do emerge a stronger, better person. There is positive it in too. You can’t control what life hands you, but you can control your attitude towards what life hands you. … that’s a lesson I learned. When I was first diagnosed, I was like, “Why God, why did you give this to me?” and then I finally said to myself, “Calm down”. You can’t stop something from happening, but if it happens to you – whatever negative thing happens in your life – you can control your attitude towards it.