Giuliana Rancic might want to add professional juggler to her already-impressive resume. Between her hosting gig at E! News, her own showGiuliana & Bill, and their adorable son Duke, it’s shocking she still has time to focus on herself. But the 39-year-old superwoman is also a breast cancer survivor, which means she knows the importance of staying healthy. We were lucky enough to get a chance to speak with Giuliana, in an honest and open interview in which she discussed breast cancer, how to stay healthy, motherhood, and her new partnership with Save Lids to Save Lives.
Check out our Q&A below, edited for space.
You’ve been very open about your breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. What was it like when you first found out?
I think its what you would imagine it would feel like but a million times worse. I think as a woman you always have that in the back of your head once you reach adulthood. You hear the statistics of breast cancer—that one in eight women are going to get breast cancer—and you think, gosh, one in eight, that means one of my friends, one of us in my group is going to get breast cancer. It’s scary. It’s hard not to think about—when you go to the doctor and get your yearly exam or you get a mammogram—how you would react if you heard bad results. So I always kind of thought what a nightmare that would be to hear that, and it was—times a million. It was worse than anything you can imagine.
In the beginning it was incredibly hard and confusing. I didn’t know what was going to happen and I was very scared. You’re forced to really think about life and death and everything in between. It was terrifying. But slowly but surely as I learned more, as I educated myself, and once I got the surgery and that it was successful—my double mastectomy—things started getting better. It’s true, time does heal all wounds. As time passes I feel like I’ve come to terms with it more. And the fact that I am using this opportunity and what happened to me to do good and to give back really makes it a lot easier to heal.
What advice do you have for women during Breast Cancer Awareness month?
I think it’s so great that October is devoted to Breast Cancer Awareness and that’s very important, but really every month should be Breast Cancer Awareness for every woman. Breast cancer is a disease that impacts so many people and it’s something that simple tests will tell you whether you have it or not. So you really have to stay on top of your health. You have to be proactive. And if you’re 40 and over, you’ve got to make sure that you’regetting an annual mammogram. You owe that to yourself, to your family, to your friends. Because if you can find breast cancer early, chances are you can survive.
I used to always support breast cancer and I would do the walks and runs—this was way before I was ever diagnosed. And I would hear about early prevention but I don’t think I even really understood why it was so important. The key is, you’ve got to find it early, and the only way you’re going to find it early is to be proactive about your health and to stay on top of your doctor’s appointments. If you’re going for a mammogram every two or three years, it might be too late when you find your breast cancer. So I’d like to stress that and really make sure that women are taking charge of their health, because if they’re not taking care of their health and making their doctor’s appointments, who’s going to do it for them?
You’re insanely busy these days—how do you find time to stay on top of your health?
The way I do it is, our baby gets up pretty early—anywhere from five to six in the morning—so I spend an awesome morning with the baby and play with him and hang out with him. And then when he goes down for a nap, I’ve got a treadmill at home. So I have the baby monitor on the treadmill, and I watch The Today Show and run or walk.
Before the baby, I felt like unless I’m at the gym at least an hour, four days a week, I’m not doing my part to stay healthy. I don’t think that’s necessarily true anymore. Now if I can just get in a 20- or 30-minute walk every day on the treadmill or around the neighborhood, I feel great. I have light weights at home and I do bicycle crunches and a couple of ab exercises. I’m in and out of there in less than forty minutes, and I do it while the baby is napping. I’ve surrendered to feeling like there’s one routine that works and nothing else will do the job.
What’s one of your best tips for juggling work and motherhood?
A great tip that I learned is when I’m at work, I devote myself to work 100 percent. I was like a lot of people—I’d be at work and then I’d be on my Facebook and then suddenly I’d be shopping for baby clothes. And the problem with that was I would come home to be with the baby and feel like I neglected my work, so there was a temptation to be on my phone and be responding to emails while I’m playing with the baby, and that’s not good. I felt like I was giving the baby 50 percent of my time and work 50 percent of my time.
Now what I do is I go to work, I know I’m there, and that’s it. That way when I go home, the phone goes away. And I feel like, I worked my day today. It’s kind of like the European mentality—and I’m Italian so I should have been like this years ago! I’m so much more efficient. I come home and that’s my time with my baby. I go around the neighborhood, I don’t even bring my phone with me, and I can feel good about knowing that I did my job today, I gave it my all, I was 100 percent committed and now I’m 100 percent committed to my son. That helps you find some balance.
Tell us about the new partnership with Save Lids to Save Lives.
I’m very excited about it! General Mills reached out and asked if I wanted to partner with them to help promote awareness for breast cancer through the program, and obviously I’m very big on that. I’m a huge breast cancer advocate. In 2011, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I’m happy to be able to use my story and my platform to give back and help find a cure. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, which is a pretty astounding number. So anything I can do to help give back, I’m happy to do.
And this is just such a great program. For every lid donated, General Mills will give 10 cents to Susan G. Komen—up to $1.5 million. That’s a big number and that money will go a very long way in the fight.
So how can people get involved?
Starting in September, over 25 General Mills brands will be featuring the pink “Save Lids to Save Lives” lids on their packaging. Back in the day you would think of the Yoplait yogurts that had the pink lids and you would collect those—that’s actually what I would do when I was younger. But now your box of Cheerios will have the lid on there. You can cut them out and send them in. Or you can even go to the Save Lids to Save Lives website to get more information and enter them online. It’s very easy to do. And as a mom, this is a great project to do with your kids.