By Giuliana and Bill Rancic
In August of 2011, Bill and I were on our third attempt to get pregnant using in vitro fertilization. When my doctor suggested I get a mammogram, I thought it was premature; there was no history of breast cancer in my family, and I always figured I would do it when I turned 40. Little did I know, our quest to have a baby would save my life.
Our world changed when the doctor called with the mammography results. I had breast cancer. A lumpectomy was unsuccessful in removing all the cancer. We researched options, talked with experts, made “pro and con” lists, rode a rollercoaster of emotions and ultimately decided to have a double mastectomy.
Consecutively, we were pursuing surrogacy to have a child. We kicked cancer’s butt and then switched gears to go through a remarkable experience with our surrogate mom, and ultimately celebrated the birth of our son, Edward Duke, in August 2012. It was 12 months that were the most trying of our lives, but something that we wouldn’t change. Our experiences along the way have defined our lives and exposed us to remarkable acts of support and encouragement that remind us of just how blessed our lives are.
Encouragement can come in so many forms. The emotional support we received was overwhelming. We chose to share our story with the public, and the encouragement we felt from everyone was tremendous. Emotionally supporting each other was equally important. Even something as simple as having your loved one at every doctor’s appointment provided strength every step of the way. Additionally, Bill and I are very strong in our Catholic faith. Spiritual support provided an additional layer of encouragement to remain focused and positive on the darkest days.
The power of our physicians and nurses was equally important and encouraging throughout the diagnosis, treatment and recovery process. We had an amazing medical team on our side and we felt that we were in good hands. Being comfortable with your caregivers is so important. It was helpful to know that we could ask them all of our questions, no matter how simple or complex and they took the time to explain everything along the way.
While emotional and spiritual encouragement guided us through this process, there were also physical components that were equally significant. Staying healthy is important to our family. Exercise and healthy living was a staple in our lives prior to the cancer diagnosis. After having cancer, my attitude toward exercise changed. I had a renewed appreciation for little things, like being able to work out and go for a run. Three months after beating breast cancer, it felt great to be able to throw on sneakers and hit the pavement.
Running has taken on a special part in recovery and maintaining wellness. It clears my mind and makes me push myself in new ways. Whether we run together or run alone, it is a dedicated time to focus on the world around us and living in the moment. It’s also somewhat funny to think about how taking a run or stroll has taken on a whole new meaning in our lives. Strolling down the red carpet used to be a priority. Today, my time strolling is split between celebrities and working out with Duke in a baby jogger!
The bottom line is that no matter what you are facing, having a team of family, friends and clinicians on your side providing strength and encouragement is critical to getting through a difficult period. Consider them your greatest fans and lean on them whenever needed.
There’s a quote that says, “Tough times don’t last – tough people do.” It’s a quote we’ve come to live by. Since everyone deals with their diagnosis differently, find support in what works for you. Take the time to think through your options, do research and go with what your heart tells you. And, be sure to take one day at a time.
On May 4, Bill and I will be visiting the Jersey Shore and heading to Manasquan to be part of a special event called Paint the Town Pink, which is sponsored by Meridian Health and focused on increasing awareness of the importance of having an annual mammogram. Our fans were some of our greatest sources of encouragement the past 18 months. We are looking forward to an evening with you all to talk about our experiences with breast cancer and parenthood, and the little things that got us through a challenging period. Hope to see you there!
To purchase tickets for “Little Things: An Evening with Giuliana and Bill Rancic” on May 4 at the Algonquin Arts Theatre in Manasquan, call 855-PINK411 or visit www.PainttheTownPink.com for event details.
The Two River Times™ is a 2013 sponsor of Paint the Town Pink a breast cancer awareness initiative sponsored by Meridian Health System. Additional information about Paint the Town Pink can be found at www.PainttheTownPink.com.