Giuliana Rancic on breast cancer: 'You don't need a microphone or a stage to help someone'
BY: GIBSON JOHNS
Giuliana Rancic is a firm believer that she was put on this planet with a specific a purpose and that everything happens for a reason. So when the former E! News correspondent was diagnosed with -- and battled through -- breast cancer four years ago, she knew that it meant that she had to act on it.
"God gave me this personality that's very carefree and very open and he gave me this big Italian mouth knowing that I would get out there and do something with it," she says. "I can use my platform to not just tell people what's happening in Hollywood or what people are wearing, but more importantly I can also include messaging that can maybe change or save a life ... and that is truly a privilege."
READ MORE SPECIAL COVERAGE ON BREAST CANCER AWARENESS: Celebrities who have publicly battled breast cancer
But Rancic is quick to clarify that spreading awareness about breast cancer doesn't require such a prominent platform in order to make a difference: anyone who's been affected by the disease -- anyone who has a story to tell -- can contribute to the fight by simply sharing that story.
"You don't need a microphone or a TV show or a stage to help someone and to share your story and change a life," she explains. "It's a beautiful thing when you see women who have breast cancer, which is such a personal process, go public with it and share their story because ultimately what they're trying to do is help other women."
Conversely, just because a woman who has fought the fight and survived their battle with breast cancer doesn't necessarily mean that they are going to feel comfortable or compelled to share their story just because they have a lot of visibility. And that's completely understandable, especially from the point of view of someone, like Rancic, who has gone through it themselves.
Photos of Giuliana contributing to the #PFChangsPink Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign:
"I know high profile people who are breast cancer survivors who want privacy and want to stay private. And I respect that completely. Having gone through it, I get it. [...] I just do it because I love to do it and I want to do it."
It comes as no surprise, then, that Rancic is heavily involved in breast cancer awareness campaigns and organizations, especially during the month of October -- Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Starting this week, she's partnering with P.F. Changs for the #PFChangsPink Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign which involves various, accessible ways for diners to give back.
"There are so many ways that people can get involved when they come to the restaurant," she explains. By giving everyday people simple ways to donate to the cause, Rancic hopes to make it easier for people that want to help, but can't afford or don't have the time to do so in a financially huge way, to support the women in their communities.
Throughout the month of October, P.F. Changs aims to donate $100,000 to the American Cancer Society by giving one dollar every time diners order the Jicama Street Tacos as well as each time someone shares a photo on social media with one of their pink-adorned Warrior Horses using the hashtag #PFChangsPink.
"A lot of people during October want to help, but times are tough! And it's really hard to give a lot of money. That's what's so nice that a company like P.F. Changs can come along and make the donation on your behalf."
Rancic says that she "looks forward to October" every single year because giving back and spreading awareness excites her. In particular, "getting the word out about early detection" is critical for her.
Two months after announcing her diagnosis live on the "TODAY Show" in October 2011, Rancic underwent a double mastectomy after a lumpectomy failed to eliminate all of the cancer cells. Though the decision to go through the surgery was completely right for her, she's cautious about saying it would be right for everyone.
"The most important thing to tell women is, 'This is what I did, but it doesn't mean it's right for you.' A lot of women turn to me and go, 'What was your treatment like, what medicine were you on?,' and the one thing I realized was that breast cancer is very individual."
Though she stays away from advising women to do exactly what she did, Rancic does make sure to stress the importance of getting multiple opinions -- something that many women surprisingly don't do when it comes to their breast cancer treatment.
"Women will get a second or third opinion about how to cut their hair or what color to change it to, but when it comes to breast cancer, the first opinion that a lot of women get from their doctor is the path they go on," she explains. "But breast cancer is a big deal! It's very scary. And you've got to get a second -- or maybe even a third opinion if you can."
"That was a big part of my journey -- was multiple opinions. And you can do that."
Another huge part of her journey? Her husband of eight years, Bill. She describes him as "the most important support system at the time" and "an excellent caregiver." And that excellence came stemmed from his insistence on taking the emotions -- regardless of how intense or overwhelming they were -- out of the equation.
"Bill would be the one to really take the emotion out of everything and go, 'Honey, we need to make good, knowledge-based decisions here -- not emotionally-based decisions.'
"He started this motto called 'Don't ask, tell': He wouldn't ask me if I needed anything, he would just tell me he was going to do something," she gushes. "That's something that anyone in the caregiver role could pick up and use."
The support didn't stop with Bill, though. Rancic says that she got "a tremendous amount of support," which is why she's dedicated so much of her time in the years since her battle to giving back to other women.
"You hear that there's a sisterhood that comes from being diagnosed with breast cancer -- and there truthfully is," Rancic says. "That's why I like to get involved in campaigns like this."
Celebrities who have publicly battled breast cancer:
More for Breast Cancer Awareness Month:
The numbers behind breast cancer in America
Breast cancer warning signs every woman should know
15 super cute products that support breast cancer charities