Breast cancer doesn't just affect the person who carries the tumor inside their chest. It reverberates through the person's entire support system, affecting their caregivers - be it a significant other, children or friends. The people who shuttle them to doctor's appointments. Hold their hands during doctor's appointments. Pick them up off the floor when they crumple. Wipe their tears when they cry. In short, sometimes cancer is just as hard on the caregiver.And for the first time, a caregiver will share the stage with a breast cancer survivor on Sunday, when celebrity husband-wife duo Bill and Giuliana Rancic speak at the annual Vail Breast Cancer Awareness Luncheon. Giuliana is an E News Live co-anchor and co-star of E!'s popular Fashion Police team with Joan Rivers; Bill was the first candidate hired on Donald Trump's "The Apprentice." Giuliana was diagnosed with breast cancer last September after a routine mammogram picked up early stage cancer while she was undergoing in vitro fertilization. It was around that same time that organizers of the Vail Breast Cancer Awareness Luncheon were starting to plan the 2012 event. "It was last October - literally within days of Giuliana's announcement on the Today Show that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer," said Kristin Kenney Williams, the president of the Vail Breast Cancer Awareness Group board. "She was our first thought for a guest speaker. We jumped falsely to the conclusion that it would be premature to ask her to come to Vail this summer - we simply thought it would be too soon to ask."Turns out the group was wrong. The Rancics were happy to come, their agent said. "This speaks to the incredible, life-saving work that Giuliana and Bill are doing. In the midst of it all - treatment, work, following through on their dream to have a child - they are using their platform to raise awareness around the importance of early detection. We are so very, very fortunate to have the healthy and happy Rancics coming to Vail to speak to our some 600 attendees."
During Sunday's luncheon, the Rancics plan to give both perspectives of battling the disease, they said during a recent phone interview together. "Our goal is to humanize it," Bill said. "To give people an intimate look at how we battled it, how we conquered it. We had a system in place that was very effective and helped us get through it in a way that strengthened our relationship.""The role of the caregiver is so crucial in recovery and in my case, my caregiver was Bill," Giuliana said. "And I can't imagine having gone through it without Bill. Whether you're a husband, a cousin, sister, friend, or whatever it is, you can play your part and make all the difference in the world. We have a lot of great tips we can share for people who are caregivers."Giuliana also plans to talk about some of the "pros and cons" of having cancer. There are pros to having cancer? The native Italian beauty said that yes, there are good things that have come as a result of her diagnosis."Breast cancer is never a fun thing ... but some pretty incredible things have happened as a result, though," she said. "Realizing who your true friends are and what you want out of life and more importantly, realizing how you can inspire people and use your platform to help others. I think you can do that whether you work in Hollywood or not. You can always use your voice to help others around you. By just sharing your journey, you can help people in a tremendous way."
Recently the Rancics have been spending a lot of time in Colorado. The pair have been busy preparing for the arrival of their baby boy who is due at the end of the summer. The surrogate lives in Denver. While every child is special, this little boy is especially so. The couple credits their son with saving Giuliana's life. Before starting in vitro for the third time, her fertility specialist insisted on a mammogram since the hormones released during pregnancy could accelerate the cancer. "It makes you realize God does work in mysterious ways," she said. "Doctors could never give reasons while I wasn't getting pregnant. God had a master plan - He didn't want me to get pregnant because I would have been in a lot worse shape."It's her faith in God that Giuliana credits with getting her through what were some very low times. "Where I started turning a corner was when I was praying more, going to church more and just getting down on my knees and praying. That's when everything started to change for me. I'd always heard about the power of prayer, and I grew up a Christian and obviously believing in God and praying but until you're diagnosed with something like this ... I prayed for things that were so specific in my diagnosis and treatment that came to fruition. There was no disputing it. Prayer does work. It worked for me. That's where I got most of my strength and came out of my sadness and despair."Vail Daily High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.