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Breast Cancer Club | Welcome to the Club | Giuliana Rancic
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Welcome to the Club, Giuliana Rancic

January 3, 2012

In an effort to add more cancer related content here on the blog I’ve decided to dedicate two or three days a week to recent breast cancer news, data, facts, stories, and of course my survivor point of view. For some reason, my posts about cancer get the biggest response from my readers – so fire away with your questions on the topic. I’m not afraid.

So you all know Giuliana Rancic from E! News came out late last year about her breast cancer diagnosis, right? Maybe you didn’t and that’s ok. Honestly, news of a celebrity with cancer – Melissa Etheridge, Sheryl Crow, Christina Applegate – maybe got a second glance at the People magazine cover from me while at the grocery store. But since having been diagnosed myself three years ago, I now find I’m really interested in any person’s breast cancer diagnosis. I think it’s just the desire to compare cancer profiles and treatment options.

giuliana rancic on the cover of people magazine

I’m really happy to see Giuliana talk so publicly about her diagnosis because there is so much blame and shame associated with being diagnosed. It’s ridiculous but so true. The topic is discussed a lot in my cancer support groups. People need a reason and since there isn’t any one specific thing to blame for cancer the finger gets pointed at the person and what they must have done to get cancer. Talk about needing a therapy session to understand that.

Like I said, it’s great Giuliana is speaking out. I just saw an interview she and her husband did to promote their New Years Eve appearance and she talked about how her recovery from the double mastectomy (the removal of both breasts and breast tissues) “was hell.” I didn’t have a mastectomy. I had a lumpectomy in which the tumor was removed but the breast remained. So, I can’t compare my surgery and recovery to hers. But I can compare our profiles and this is where I wish she would divulge more. Is she BRCA positive (does she have the cancer gene)? Was her cancer hormone positive? Negative? Triple negative? HER-2 positive? Were lymph nodes indeed affected (had it spread)?

Her treatment, as I understand it, is the mastectomy and radiation treatment. But I’m confused because People Magazine reported that she had lymph nodes removed and doctors suspected that nodes were affected. If that’s the case, why isn’t she undergoing chemotherapy? Sure, the docs scooped out a bunch of cancerous and healthy nodes but that does not mean that there isn’t one single cell – or more – left in her body ready to conquer and divide at any second. If she’s so hell bent on living then why isn’t she doing chemo too? I hope she isn’t using her career as an excuse because a lot of women – celebrity or not -continue to have careers and go through chemo at the same time. It’s called a wig. And anti-nausea meds. And steroids.

She’s also hell bent on having a child. So, is she saying no to drugs too? Doctors typically recommend Tamoxifen for pre-menopausal women and its taken for a minimum of five years. I’ve read that she opted for the mastectomy in lieu of taking the drugs. Which I just don’t understand if that is the case. I get her desire to want to have a baby but isn’t living more important? She could easily wait another three years (she’s 37 now) and take Tamoxifen during that time and then try to conceive after that. Studies show that even a few years of Tamoxifen could add years before a potential recurrence.

Treatment for breast cancer isn’t black and white and I’m certainly not trying to make it out like it is. These decisions are beyond difficult to make and unfortunately there isn’t a manual that says “If you are diagnosed…this is what you should do.” Doctors can only give you the info and ultimately it’s up to the patient.

Ugh! Breast cancer, you suck. I wish Giuliana a speedy recovery and want to welcome her to the young survivors club.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

SurferWife January 3, 2012 at 8:25 am

You are such a great resource for breast cancer. I admire how you have taken your own experience and expanded upon it for us.


Wendy January 3, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Thanks SurferWife!
I’m an open book and happy to share my experience and perspective. It may be the only good thing that came out of a horrible experience!


Nancy's Point January 3, 2012 at 8:38 am

I’m sure Giuliana is trying to “muddle” her way through this just like the rest of us. Well, not exactly like the rest of us, but you know what I mean.


Wendy January 3, 2012 at 12:47 pm

You’re definitely right because you learn as you go, don’t you? Thanks for commenting Nancy!


Ashley @ It's Fitting January 3, 2012 at 8:48 am

I love your perspective on this. I agree that it’s hard to get some of the information and wonder what the answers are for the rest. I’m of the mindset that if you are going to put yourself out there to “educate” people, there needs to be complete transparency… She should be answering those questions because you don’t want someone to read her story and tell their doctor that they want what she had… Because sadly people do that.
I wish her every bit of luck with her treatment and her goals to have a baby… I just think she needs to be careful with the information that she’s putting out there… Or not.


Wendy January 3, 2012 at 12:57 pm

I absolutely agree with you, Ashley!
A lot of doctors would agree that there is a ton of misinformation being passed around and I am fearful that many women will think they have just as good odds if they hack off both their breasts and not consider the traditional therapies that come along with fighting this disease.
But like another reader commented – she’s probably just trying to “muddle” her way through this like we all have.


Kathleen January 3, 2012 at 10:41 am

Genetics, the aging processes or enviornmental factors cause cells to take a deadly course. Would you agree Wendy? For Guiliana, I suspect genetics (currently genetically mapped or not). If this speculation is acurate, you are asking the right questions. Desires for baby, beauty and career can be rolling the dice. I agree it just takes one post surery cell with a cancer agenda to reek havoc. I guess only time will tell. Scary stuff.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Terrific stuff.


Wendy January 3, 2012 at 1:04 pm

I definitely believe there isn’t just one factor that causes cancer. I think it’s the perfect combination of factors – all of what you mentioned. As for rolling the dice…I was presented with a similar situation upon my diagnosis of whether or not to freeze embryos as we desperately wanted more children. But for me, saving my own life was for more important that giving life to a motherless child.
The whole thing just makes me sad and pisses me off. Thanks for commenting Kat!


bravoerunway January 3, 2012 at 2:23 pm

This poor woman has been through enough. Between trying to have a baby and then getting diagnosed with breast cancer, it just makes me really sad. I do think she needs to stay on any medication that the doctors do recommend, I have an aunt who was diagnosed with breast cancer 3 times, 3 different strands. It’s not a one stop cure all incident, and all the best to Guiliana in the new year! BTW, superexcited to see your new hair cut!


Wendy January 3, 2012 at 8:23 pm

Thanks for commenting – a post about my new ‘do is sure to come.


Nicole January 3, 2012 at 6:25 pm

She has only had a few months to throw her arms around this, I really feel she deserves her privacy and if it took an interview to get people off her back – I support her. She’s still just any other woman and needs to be able to process this and not have people scrutinize what she’s doing.

She is not doing this for publicity. It’s an old PR practice that when mags get concrete tips, they contact the celeb’s people. The celebs then have the choice of either denying, giving no comment, or opting for an exclusive interview or photo-op where they can tell the public what they feel comfortable revealing and it’s usually very, very P.C. so that they don’t have to answer the hard questions. Since The Today Show (NBC) and People are in cahoots…I am almost positive they were privy to some pretty accurate confidential information. (Let’s just hope she donated the money she earned for this cover piece to a good charity.)


Wendy January 3, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not scrutinizing or criticizing Guiliana Rancic or the decisions she has made. I’ve been in her shoes and completely understand the difficulty of that process. What I am critical of is the inability of doctors to find a treatment that they know works – for every woman.

I absolutely agree that she deserves her privacy during her battle and I completely respect whatever decisions she feels are best for her. But that doesn’t mean I still can’t be confused by them.


Nicole January 3, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Your post was crystal clear. I think it’s disgusting how the media bullies celebs into spilling the beans during personal issues like this, pregnancies, divorces.


shelly June 26, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Hi Nicole

I know this is an old post..but I just had to reply to you, hope its ok

Guliana RAN to NBC and the today show to ‘spill the beans”
she couldnt wait, she also went on the wendy show
Guliana has found a way to really market her pain…a restarant, a clothing line @ HSN etc
and you must remember she is well versed in the “industry”
so she knew it would really send her reality show numbers sky high, which it did

post mastectomy with reconstruction has Guliana with 60 NEW cells
she is tamoxofin for the next 5 years
and as another poster said so well”she is hell bent on having a child”

from what I hear through the grapevine..she already has plans for another child via
gestational carrier

I really used to like Guliana
and felt her pain…not so much anymore
her reality show never once relaly showed the ‘reality” of this..not once
I work in the industry and im not alone in how I feel she handled this
personally I feel that if your going to engage the emotions of viewers everywhere
you owe them the dignity to show what this journey really looks like

if you watch the show
sh emade it look like she went to sleep and woke up, took a walk in the hallway
and went to work on E

Guliana is not a ‘celebrity”
she’s a gossip show host…big, huge difference
she reports on clebrities…she has no other particular talent


Jessica January 4, 2012 at 9:26 am

I remember being SHOCKED when I first heard this news. It seemed like this “normal celebrity” was all of a sudden being forced to live a “real life.”

Celebs have the ability to handle things like cancer and other sicknesses in a completely different manner than the general public. There never appears to be that sheer panic that I’ve seen and I’ve experienced with relatives because they have more of a means to fight something so awful.

I love that she was so open with this, but I agree with you – I’m hoping there’s more we just don’t know because I would think that living is ultimately what’s important in this case.


Wendy January 4, 2012 at 9:42 am

“Means” as in money?


Jessica January 4, 2012 at 10:31 am

Yes – in relation to my family.


Sara January 7, 2012 at 9:21 am

I like that you are going to regularly focus on the topic – there’s always the need for more awareness and discussion. I too was disappointed that she has not yet stated her BRCA disposition – if she knows. But I think it’s a really weighted and personal topic (as you know). Maybe she’s drawn the line at what she wants to share.


Dee Anne Barker April 3, 2012 at 9:48 pm

I think many of us ‘survivors’ have had mixed feelings for Guiliana’s ‘journey’ through breast cancer up until now. While I completely support her need to be private, I also know that she sits in a powerful seat in the media. This in and of itself has provided her the opportunity to not only process through and tell her own story but advocate for others as well which I see her doing repeatedly through organizations such as Bright Pink. And like you, I am also extremely interested in knowing her ‘BC stats’ (ER/PR positive? HER2/neu? Oncotype Dx Score? Lymph Node Status? etc.) as this is the information that needs to be disseminated. But, the 3x breast cancer survivor in me says, “in time, just give her the time she needs.” Bottom line, being in the public eye makes one more vulnerable yes, but not responsible for attending to the needs of everyone else and in telling all the details of one’s personal health crisis. After watching her show tonight, it is quite clear that she is trying her best to deal with her diagnosis, health decisions and course of treatment. I’m 51 and still trying to wrap my mind around this 3rd diagnosis after 20 years. No easy feat.


al April 15, 2012 at 10:47 am

I am just so confused and feel like i am being a terrible person, but why … it seems like this was over for her so quickly, no million rounds of chemo, no hair loss (of COURSE there are things i/we do not know. I don’t know if she has started radiation, etc). Am I the only person who is just gobsmacked that she wants to continue IVF? She spoke about the antiestrogen medication, that seems like an enormous flashing light. (Anti-estrogen needed to combat her cancer, but she wants to go back to IVF, which i believe includes added estrogen to encourage or create more eggs?)

I haven’t seen every episode of her reality show, but she had a terribly painful overstimulation, was hospitalized, then later found cancer in both breasts … that would seem to me like at least a yellow light, if not a red one, for continuing down the IVF path. I guess part of my confusion also is wondering two other things – with their schedules/careers, who will raise the baby? And secondly, what about ALL the children who need loving homes? I guess i, in my 20 year journey that has been filled with physical pain every day, and myself understanding that my body would not be strong enough to carry a baby (and it has taken me those 20 years to be OK with not being a Mother, although i do still have moments of terrible sadness) has led me to understand that some things just aren’t “meant to be” – and that’s OK!! Other things will come along and sometimes delightfully surprise us.

Am i awful for thinking, “Sometimes, Giuliana, we just can’t have everything. So please please stop adding stress to your healing body about this baby and let yourself enjoy your marriage, friends, nieces and nephews…” the lie that we can “have it all” just seems to push so many women to overdo and get sick.

Sorry, I do not usually get so soap box-y, i just seem to see this lady everywhere i turn, and keep hearing the story over and over. It’s just scary to think of again putting hormones in your body that aren’t meant to be there. :( I hope they will get good counsel (sp?) from a wise doctor. or five.


Wendy April 16, 2012 at 5:39 pm

I seriously could not have said it better.


al April 15, 2012 at 10:56 am

Has she been private, though? She has a reality show and there was something on the E! channel about her life where she explained that she and her husband wanted to show it all so she/they can encourage other women. I don’t know that she spoke out as a result of any bullying, i think they chose to share. Maybe they had to edit some of the technical things for the general audience for the reality show and she can share the rest later.

I feel like the rest of you, i think, i just used way too many words. This is such a likeable lady, i hope such good things for her, and hope so much that she will make wise choices.


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