Giuliana and Bill Rancic talk $100,000 cancer care grant, teaching their son, Duke, and Giuliana leaving 'E! News' (Exclusive)
Giuliana Rancic and her husband, Bill, continue to walk the walk.
Over seven years after the E! personality's breast cancer battle, the couple continues to increasingly use their global platform to raise awareness around cancer research, support and awareness.
The Rancics' latest venture, working with the Astellas Oncology C3 Prize, recently announced that it had awarded a $100,000 grant to Audrey Guth and the Nanny Angel Network, which delivers free childcare for mothers with cancer.
"That there was a gap in services for mothers who had cancer and their children," Giuliana told AOL's Gibson Johns during a phone interview this week. "This wonderful woman started the organization where she trains nannies and, once a week for a year, they’ll go into a home and help while the mother goes through treatment or does what she needs to do, they know that their child is being cared for at home by a professional. It’s just one less worry."
"I thought the Nanny Angel Network was going to have a huge boost from this, and what I truly love about the C3 Prize is that in five years I’m looking forward to looking back and looking at where they are at that point," Bill, who served on the judging panel that awarded the grant, added. "Hopefully they’re all across America and in different countries, because the possibilities are really endless."
The announcement came just one week after Giuliana made another headline-making reveal of her own: She'd be stepping away from "E! News" in 2020 as the show moves from its Los Angeles base to New York. While she called the decision to stay away "so hard," she told AOL that she's "excited" about the prospect of using more of her time and energy to raise awareness for projects like the C3 Prize.
"It was more about the schedule and what was right for my family and really honestly giving the opportunity to do things that I’m very passionate about, but haven’t been able to do as much," she told us. "I want for those things to be more of a priority."
For our full exclusive interview with Giuliana and Bill Rancic, continue reading below:
Last time we talked, you were encouraging people to submit ideas for the C3 Prize (Changing Cancer Care) back in May, and now we have a winner! Who was chosen for the prize and why?
Giuliana Rancic: This year’s winner is called the Nanny Angel Network, which was founded by a cancer survivor and mother of four [named Audrey Guth] who realized that there was a gap in services for mothers who had cancer and their children. This wonderful woman started the organization where she trains nannies and, once a week for a year, they’ll go into a home and help while the mother goes through treatment or does what she needs to do, they know that their child is being cared for at home by a professional. It’s just one less worry. We’re really excited. What’s wonderful about the $100,000 grant that she received is that she’s going to be able to take the Nanny Angel Network to the next level and expand into more communities, because every community could certainly use an asset like this.
Bill, you were on the committee that helped choose the winner. What about this project specifically spoke to you?
Bill Rancic: It was tough as a judge, because we received hundreds of submissions. At the end of the day, we narrowed it down to three finalists. We had three female entrepreneurs this year, and I thought the Nanny Angel Network was just going to have a major benefit not only from the $100,000 grant we gave her, but also from the exposure. That can be so important, because 100 percent of the nannies are volunteers: they’re social workers, they’re school teachers, they’re people who have some form of professional background in dealing with children, and they also go through training to help give these kids therapy when their moms are in treatment. I just thought, “Wow, what an opportunity.” I thought the Nanny Angel Network was going to have a huge boost from this and what I truly love about the C3 Prize is that in five years I’m looking forward to looking back and looking at where they are at that point. Hopefully they’re all across America and in different countries, because the possibilities are really endless.
The $100,000 is certainly a leg up and it's exciting to think about where they'll be able to take the organization with this money. It's up to them to make the most of it!
Bill: The fact that we’re talking to you about it right now, with the millions of people who are going to read your article, the exposure is just great. They're also going to be like, "How can I get the Nanny Angel Network here?" That’s just as important as the grant money they’ve been awarded, and Giuliana and I are going to also sing their praises from the mountaintops.
When we talked back in May, a big theme of our conversation was spotlighting aspects of cancer treatment outside of the treatment itself that people often forget about. There are so many other factors that can fall by the wayside, and it's incredible that the winner of the C3 Prize focused on one of those things: Childcare.
Giuliana: Exactly. When I was going through breast cancer, I didn’t have a child at home. I do now -- he’s 7 -- and I think about that, like, "Gosh, how much harder and more stressful would that have been had I had my son at the time?" The Nanny Angel Network certainly resonated with me, and I know it resonates with so many parents. The other night, I was chatting with someone on social media actually, and we were DM’ing. She’s 36 years old and she was diagnosed at the same age I was diagnosed, and she was going into surgery yesterday and she said, "I’m really nervous." I was sharing how I felt the night before and was giving her any sort of guidance or inspiration I could share with her, and she mentioned that the hardest part was her two little girls at home. It’s heartbreaking, and so many people are faced with that struggle every day. Going through cancer is hard enough, but when you start to bring in the other layers of it, like worrying about your family and how you’re going to get to appointments, there’s so much to worry about and it just takes it to a whole other level. There were a lot of really great submissions and so we’re excited about the next one. The more people see that you don’t have to be a doctor or have a degree to enter the C3 Prize contest the better.
Bill: It’s also an excellent example of big business working with small business. If you look at these large organizations, many of them started out in a basement or a studio apartment or a garage, and the fact that big business is able to work hand-in-hand and help mentor and guide these small organizations and hopefully [make them] much larger, is really special. Astellas Oncology is an excellent example of being a good corporate citizen. I’m thrilled to be partners with them.
You have your son, Duke, and you’re awarding this prize to help others with kids, and I’m curious what messages you impact to him around how to help others and when it comes to leading by example or giving back.
Bill: That’s a really good question, and that’s something that we really try to lead by example. We bring him with us on a lot of things that we do. We’ve taught him that every night when he says his prayers he should ask, "Please help me be kind, loving and generous." We show him examples of generosity and making a difference and one thing that Giuliana and I believe is that to whom much is given, much is expected. We’re going to make sure he follows suit on that.
Giuliana: Earlier in October, he came with us to a breast cancer charity event, and he really wanted to come and learn about it and he’s really aware of the pink ribbon now. It’s funny, because Breast Cancer Awareness Month really does bring awareness in a lot of different ways, and with my son it was an opportunity to talk about it. He’s 7 years old, and he asks a lot of questions and wants a lot of information and it’s wonderful. I get to talk to him about it and told him a little bit about how Mommy had breast cancer and is okay now and the pink ribbon signifies breast cancer. Now every time he sees the pink ribbon, he squeezes me hand and smiles. He loves it and loves seeing it. It’s something that’s new to him. You don’t have to tell a child too much, and he can just feel that it’s something that was very hard in my life. He’ll give me a kiss or a hug, too. It’s so sweet, and that’s really important to us. I know he’ll take that with him for the rest of his life.
Another way that you’ve been able to lead by example is just the fight you showed during your own cancer battle, which I’m sure is something that he’ll be able to appreciate more and more as he gets older.
Giuliana: The time will come to talk about it more, absolutely. That’s why it’s so important: Whether I’m talking to my son about it or just sharing my story on television or over DM, I take that very seriously, and it’s just so important to me. I know how I felt in that moment, and when I get messages they stop me in my tracks. Sharing your story is so important, if you’re comfortable enough to do.
You made a big announcement last week that you’re stepping away from "E! News." You must feel support from fans in moments like that, too, because that's such a difficult decision to make after such a long time on the show.
Giuliana: It’s so hard, because I’ve been on E! doing "E! News" since 2002, so a long time. I love the viewers, I love when people tell me they watch and I love that connection. For me it was definitely hard to announce that, because I love the show and it will always be such a big part of my life. I will pop in and do as much as I can and of course staying on "Live From The Red Carpet," so it was more about the schedule and what was right for my family and really honestly giving the opportunity to do things that I’m very passionate about, but haven’t been able to do as much. I want for those things to be more of a priority. I knew that it was the right thing to do for me in my life and my family. I’m thrilled to stay with the network, it’s my second home. It’s exciting, and I’m just so happy to be able to take this stuff to the next level.
This interview has been edited and condensed.