Giuliana and Bill Rancic explain their latest cancer awareness initiative (Exclusive)

It's been nearly eight years since E! News host Giuliana Rancic, arguably the most recognizable red carpet personality in the world, was diagnosed with breast cancer. 

She found out about her diagnosis while shooting the second season of the popular E! reality show, "Giuliana and Bill," and made the quick decision to film her cancer battle, in the hopes that it could shine a light on the disease and let others know that they're not alone.

"We sat down and we decided we would use this platform to make a difference," husband Bill Rancic explained during an exclusive interview with AOL's Gibson Johns. "A day doesn’t go by where someone doesn't stop one of us to thank us for doing that. It was ultimately her decision, but her bravery inspired a lot of people and that’s what we’re trying to do here."

Rancic ultimately underwent a double mastectomy and has been cancer-free for over seven years. In that time, she and her husband have dedicated a portion of their lives to continuing to raise cancer awareness through countless initiatives and projects in the hopes of making a difference in people's lives, big or small.

Their latest projects comes in the form of their partnership with the C3 Prize (Changing Cancer Care), which is a challenge sponsored by Astellas Oncology and funds non-treatment ideas to improve cancer care for both patients and their caregivers that are submitted by the public.

During a recent interview with AOL, Giuliana and Bill Rancic opened up about their dedication to improving lives of cancer patients around the world, Giuliana's own battle with breast cancer and how their willingness to speak out has made their lives that much more rewarding.

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Giuliana Rancic and Bill Rancic together
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Giuliana Rancic and Bill Rancic together
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 21: Bill Rancic and Giuliana Rancic visit the SiriusXM Studios on May 21, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 29: Bill Rancic and Giuliana Rancic attend G By Giuliana/HSN New Collection Launch Event at Beverly Hills Hotel on January 29, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Presley Ann/Getty Images for HSN)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 25: Giuliana Rancic and Bill Rancic are seen on January 25, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by gotpap/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 30: Bill Rancic and Giuliana Rancic visit Build Brunch at Build Studio on October 30, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 30: Bill Rancic and Giuliana Rancic visit Build Brunch at Build Studio on October 30, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 30: Bill Rancic and Giuliana Rancic visit Build Brunch at Build Studio on October 30, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 30: Giuliana Rancic and Bill Rancic are seen walking in soho on October 30, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 05: Bill Rancic and Giuliana Rancic attend The Pink Agenda 10th Annual Gala at Three Sixty Degrees on October 5, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 22: Co-Hosts Bill and Giuliana Rancic attend the UnMask Cancer annual fundraiser to support patient care and cancer research at the the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on October 22, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute )
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 13: Bill Rancic (L) and television personality/event hostess Giuliana Rancic attend The Pink Agenda's 2016 Gala held at Three Sixty on October 13, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Brent N. Clarke/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 13: Bill Rancic (L) and television personality/event hostess Giuliana Rancic attend The Pink Agenda's 2016 Gala held at Three Sixty on October 13, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Brent N. Clarke/FilmMagic)
CELEBRITY FAMILY FEUD - 'The Band Perry vs Giuliana Rancic and Melissa Joan Hart vs Paul Sorvino'- The celebrity families competing to win cash for their charities feature the families from famed country music and multi-award winning The Band Perry, and host and author Giuliana Rancic. In a separate game, family members from actress, director and producer Melissa Joan Hart will compete against the family of legendary actor Paul Sorvino ('Goodfellas'). This episode of 'Celebrity Family Feud' airs SUNDAY, JULY 24 (8:00-9:00 p.m. EDT), on the ABC Television Network. (Kelsey McNeal/ABC via Getty Images) STEVE HARVEY, GIULIANA RANCIC, BILL RANCIC
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 10: (L-R) Bill Rancic and Giuliana Rancic arrive to NBCUniversal's 73rd Annual Golden Globes After Party at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)
CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 03: Giuliana Rancic and Bill Rancic attend the Hormel Gatherings Great Play-On Party at Old Town Social on January 3, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for Hormel Gatherings)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: Bill Rancic, Duke Rancic and Giuliana Rancic attend Kohl's Holiday Storybooth Pop Up on December 5, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Kohl's)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 16: Bill Rancic and Giuliana Rancic attend the Pink Agenda Gala at Three Sixty on October 16, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Bill Rancic and Giuliana Rancic attend Restoration Hardware Celebrates The Opening Of RH Chicago - The Gallery At The Three Arts Club at Restoration Hardware on September 30, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jeff Schear/Getty Images for RH Chicago)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17: Bill Rancic and Giuliana Rancic are seen leaving Craig's restaurant in Hollywood on June 17, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 31: Bill Rancic (L) and television personality Giuliana Rancic attend the Le Vian 2016 Red Carpet Revue at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on May 31, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images for Le Vian)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 31: Bill Rancic (L) and television personality Giuliana Rancic arrive at the Le Vian 2016 Red Carpet Revue at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on May 31, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images for Le Vian)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - NOVEMBER 07: Bill and Giuliana Rancic attends Cotton's 24 Hour Runway Show on November 7, 2014 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Thaddaeus McAdams/WireImage)
SANTA MONICA, CA - OCTOBER 18: Giuliana Rancic and Bill Rancic a pose for a portrait at the Elyse Walker Presents The 10th Anniversary Pink Party Hosted on October 18, 2014 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images)
SANTA MONICA, CA - OCTOBER 18: Bill Rancic and Giuliana Rancic arrive at the 10th Annual Pink Party held at Santa Monica Airport on October 18, 2014 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - SEPTEMBER 29: Giuliana and Bill Rancic visit 'Extra' at Universal Studios Hollywood on September 29, 2014 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 22: (EUROPE AND AUSTRALASIA OUT) (L-R) American entrepreneur Bill Rancic and Italian American television personality Giuliana Rancic pose during a photo shoot at The Park Hyatt Hotel, The Rocks on September 22, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Richard Dobson/Newspix/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: Giuliana Rancic and her husband Bill Rancic are seen outside Joan Rivers' Apartment on September 5, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 13: Television personalities Bill Rancic (L) and his wife Giuliana Rancic arrive at The North American Hairstyling Awards (NAHA) 25th anniversary celebration at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on July 13, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Bryan Steffy/WireImage)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 01: Bill Rancic (L) and television personality Giuliana Rancic arrive at the 2015 Le Vian Red Carpet Revue at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on June 1, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images for Le Vian)
SANTA MONICA, CA - MAY 17: TV personalities Giuliana Rancic and Bill Rancic arrive at the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund's Inaugural Super Saturday LA event at Barker Hangar on May 17, 2014 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 19: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Bill Rancic (L) and Giuliana Rancic visit at SiriusXM Studios on March 19, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 07: Bill Rancic and Giuliana Rancic host Unilever Canada's Be Groomed Be Gorgeous Media Launch Event at Andrew Richard Designs on November 7, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 14: Bill Rancic and Giuliana Rancic pose for a portrait at the 2013 Columbus Day luncheon at the Embassy of Italy on October 14, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE -- Pictured (l-r): Giuliana Rancic and Bill Rancic -- Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
THE VIEW - Guest co-host, Gabby Reece appears today, July 16, 2013. Guests include Bruce Willis ('Red 2') and Giuliana and Bill Rancic with son Duke. 'The View' airs Monday-Friday (11:00 am-12:00 pm, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Fred Lee/ABC via Getty Images) GIULIANA AND BILL RANCIC
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Duke Rancic, Bill Rancic and Giuliana Rancic appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 15: (L-R) TV Personalities Bill Rancic and Giuliana Rancic ring the NASDAQ closing bell at NASDAQ MarketSite on July 15, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Kathie Lee Gifford, Bill Rancic, Giuliana Rancic and Hoda Kotb appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - MARCH 01: (L-R) Bill Rancic and Giuliana Rancic attend Cotton's 24 Hour Runway Show On South Beach on March 1, 2013 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Aaron Davidson/WireImage)
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Find out more about the C3 Prize here and check out our conversation with Giuliana and Bill Rancic below:

This is your second year working with the C3 Prize. Talk to me about last year's experience and why you wanted to continue to encourage people to submit their ideas for the contest?

Bill Rancic: Last year’s experience was amazing. I traveled to the Global Cancer Congress in Malaysia, which is basically where people gather once a year to improve cancer care and all the ancillary challenges that come with cancer care, and we had submissions from all over the world to win the C-3 Prize. Ultimately, the winner was a woman from Africa who had an idea to create videos to help de-stigmatize breast cancer throughout the region. She won $50,000 and that was going to fund her business for two years to create these videos and help women realize it’s not a death sentence. It’s very treatable if it’s caught early, but unfortunately in these underserved countries access to good information is so hard to come by and, where she lives, there’s a stigma that says if you have breast cancer, you’re dead. We all know that’s not the case, and these videos will impact a lot of lives. To think that $50,000 will fund this program for two years and potentially reach hundreds of thousands of women, how many people are going to live much longer because of this? For me and Giuliana, we thought this is a powerful platform to be a part of.

And that’s just $50,000. This year it’s bigger -- it's $200,000 total, so the impact is already being amplified. What do you hope to get out of this year?

Bill: Hopefully we’ll get a lot more submissions, because this is the fourth year that the C3 Prize has been in effect, but we’re also giving away more than just money: I’m going to help mentor them and help bring those ideas to life and arm them with the tools they need to succeed and grow and have the biggest impact possible.

Giuliana Rancic: There are also multiple winners this year: It’s more spread out, so more people will be able to fund their ideas. We’re excited about it. I was diagnosed just over 7 years ago: I was 36, no family history, it was a huge shock. I was fortunate enough to receive great medical treatment and that’s obviously a huge part of it. But, when you go home from the hospital, you still have cancer, and what’s wonderful about this contest is that people can come up with ideas that are non-treatment. You don’t have to be a doctor or a scientist. It’s beyond that. It’s really for the everyday life of someone going through this: How can you better their lives and make their lives easier? That’s just so important.

Bill: One of the biggest challenges cancer patients face, believe it or not, is transportation: Getting to and from treatments. There’s Uber and Lyft and all these things, but patients want to be with someone they know because they’re having so much anxiety. That’s the No.1 challenge and you don’t think about it. Also, access to information. There are a lot of ancillary challenges that we’re really trying to solve for cancer patients and their caretakers. 

SEE ALSO: Giuliana Rancic reveals that her son thinks 'mommy is a singer'

It’s not necessarily about curing cancer -- it’s really about meeting people where they are, which is so important.

Giuliana: I love that. I have to tell you: I never really made the correlation until recently, but when I went back to work after getting my double mastectomy, the last thing on my mind was hair makeup and wardrobe. There I was getting my hair and makeup done my first day back at E! and I remember looking up and, for the first time in a really long time, I recognized that face in the mirror. I had been really lost in all of the treatment and everything I was going through for so long that I kind of forgot who I was without cancer. Here I was, the person I knew before the cancer and that was such a defining moment for me in terms of my recovery. That night, Bill and I were driving to dinner and I was telling him this story and told him how much hope it gave me. I said, "Gosh, I wish everyone could feel like this in my shoes." That’s the moment I came up with the idea to grant wishes to women that are going through treatment: We give makeovers, shopping sprees, trips, celebrity experiences where you can just be yourself again and just not think about the cancer for a day. That’s exactly what this contest is all about: Whether you’re a survivor, a caretaker, know someone who’s been through cancer… is there something that could be an idea here that could help others?

Some of it comes down trying to maintain a positive outlook while battling cancer, too. Were there moments for you that could spark positivity during your cancer battle?

Giuliana: I remember when I would be in an uncomfortable situation, like prepping for surgery or getting a procedure done, and it’s tough. A couple of things helped me: One was the phrase, “This too shall pass,” and I would repeat that over and over again in my head. That was really helpful because just knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel kept me going. The other one was that, when I opened up about what I was going through, I did it because I thought that if I could get breast cancer at age 36 with no family history, anybody could get this. If I can just get out there and say that and tell people to get checked, it has an incredible survival rate when caught early. What I didn’t realize was what I would get in return from speaking out on social media: It was incredible the amount of support I got from around the world, and I remember this one word would always show up: Strong. Be strong. Stay strong. That word always resonated in my mind, and I would picture those posts. It was actually very helpful. Just sharing your story in general and people helping you through it, you never know what could come out of that to help you.

We mentioned earlier that this C3 Prize is trying to also focus on the caregiver, which is so important. People often forget about the person taking care of them, and the person taking care of them might think it’s selfish to even think about themselves while a loved one battles cancer. How did you guys approach that balance for yourselves and what do you want to encourage others to do?

Bill: The caregiver wears lot of different hats. My mom was a caregiver to my dad, so I had a very good role model and the one thing she did was that she was there to help my dad make good decisions. I knew that my No.1 role was to help Giuliana make good decisions based on knowledge and not emotion. Whenever you hear the words, “You have cancer,” it’s overwhelming and you never think it’s going to happen to you, so I was there to help surround her with good people and good information so that we could avoid making decisions coming from the gut. You wear a lot of different hats: You’re a chauffeur, you’re a short order cook, you’re a comedian… but that was, for me, the most important thing. You’re a team, too, and that’s how we looked at it. That’s life: You make a commitment to each other in sickness and in health. You have to put yourself on the back burner. It wasn’t about me.

Giuliana: I was so fortunate to have Bill as my caregiver and to have support 24 hours a day, and I can’t imagine having to go through that without him and a lot of people do. A lot of people go through cancer without someone right by their side. In the middle of the night, I would often wake up scared, crying, or what have you, and I couldn’t imagine if I had been alone during those times. We were talking about it before: Maybe there’s a solution there; what can we do for those people?

It seems like you guys have dedicated a portion of your lives to raising cancer awareness. You’ve been involved in other initiatives in the past, and it’s clearly become one of your lives’ missions to work on this. Was that something that you immediately thought was going to happen? Or did it take some time to reflect on the cancer experience before you could channel that energy into doing good?

Bill: It came pretty quickly, because we were in the midst of shooting season 2 of the “Giuliana and Bill" show. We had to make a decision: Are we going to showcase this and put it out there for everyone to see? We sat down and we decided we would use this platform to make a difference. A day doesn’t go by where someone doesn't stop one of us to thank us for doing that. It was ultimately her decision, but her bravery inspired a lot of people and that’s what we’re trying to do here.

Giuliana: We had just opened up about infertility on the show, and suddenly everywhere we went people would come up to us -- 1 in 4 couples deals with infertility -- and whisper, “I’m also going through this.” It was hard to open up about that, but we started to see that we were able to serve as a place for comfort to a lot of people. We never expected that to be the effect of opening up, so when it was time to make a decision about breast cancer, because we had been through that and seen the effects, that definitely played a role. We realized what a privilege it was to have this platform and reach to many people. It was important. E! is in 160 countries! It’s an international show, and we were hearing from people all over the world. It was incredible. 

It proves that cancer doesn't discriminate: It's a human issue.

Giuliana: And the more people talk and open up about it, the better it feels. There’s comfort in numbers and it takes the stigma away and suddenly you have to talk about it. To bottle these emotions up ... it’s unhealthy. To be able to talk about it freely is powerful. The more you open up, the more help you can get.

You’ve always had a big platform, but it makes it much more powerful when you’re talking about something that can impact so many lives. How often do you get the chance to reflect on where you were when you were battling cancer and where you are now back on E! officially?

Giuliana: I’ve been at E! since 2001 -- 18 years -- and when I started there and even beyond, I never thought that we would be here today talking about this. Honestly, I just loved movies, fashion and TV shows. And also writing, interviewing, hosting. And I just wanted to marry those two: I was loving life and had a career that I loved, and I never expected it to take the turn it took. I've had a lot of incredible moments on the red carpet, but nothing is more rewarding than talking about this and things that could save a life. My career is more rewarding than I ever pictured it would be. 

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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