Giuliana Rancic

I wasn’t planning on writing about Giuliana Rancic’s breast cancer diagnosis in October or her decision to have a double lumpectomy or her announcement  that her double lumpectomy has morphed into a double mastectomy. Much has been written about it, and she’s done the talk-show circuit, and I didn’t feel the need to comment on the latest celeb to begin a cancer “journey.” However, the more I read about her story, the more compelled I am to comment.

First, when her cover issue of People magazine hit the newsstands, it nearly caused me to have a heart attack. I was mindlessly unloading my loot from my shopping cart and putting it on the conveyor belt when I caught a glimpse of this:

I didn’t notice the photo or her name, but was drawn in by the bold yellow headline and wondered, who’s that and what’s she got that is serious enough that she has to fight for her life??? Imagine my shock when I read the fine print and realized that it’s Giuliana Rancic and she’s got what I had — breast cancer. After the shock wore off, I thought I’d better see how serious her diagnosis is; after all, if she’s fighting for her life, it must be bad. I’m thinking stage 4 with mets everywhere.

The article in People, titled “The Fight of My Life,” speaks of her “devastating cancer diagnosis.” I’m thinking this is really bad.

As I read on, though, I learned that her BC was caught early and had not spread.


So does this mean that early-stage, non-metastatic BC qualifies one to be deemed “fighting for one’s life”? If that’s the case, what does that mean for women whose BC is not early stage and has spread?

This kind of overwrought journalism really bugs me. I know that People has to sell mags, but good grief, how about a little truth in advertising? The cover story of  “I’M FIGHTING FOR MY LIFE” in big, bold letters nearly caused me to stroke out, and left me thinking I really underplayed my BC story. My cancer was in both breasts, not just one, and I never declared that I was fighting for my life. I’m thinking I seriously mishandled this.

I’m certainly not one to kick a sister when she’s down. That’s not my intent at all. I wish her the best; I truly do. Cancer is a terrible thing, no matter what age or what stage one is when diagnosed, and I certainly don’t mean to give Rancic grief — she’s enduring enough of that as is. However, I do wonder about some of the comments she’s made. I was hoping they were taken out of context, but ….

She said that the double lumpectomy didn’t get all the cancer so she was moving forward with a bilateral mastectomy, and I totally support her saying that deciding to have a mastectomy “was not an easy decision but it was the best decision for me.” Agreed. But when she went on to say  “Not only can it [mastectomy] save your life, but you can come out feeling healthier and with a positive self-image”


Ladies, raise your hand if your bilateral mastectomy left you feeling healthier and with a positive self-image.

Come on, show of hands.

Anyone? Anyone?

Maybe I’m the odd girl out, but the process of lopping off my breasts certainly didn’t make me feel that way, and 18 months later, it still hasn’t. I’ve talked to more than a few BC gals, and never once has the topic of feeling healthier or having a better self-image come up. Not once.

On The Wendy Williams Show the other day, Rancic spoke openly about her surgery and how she thinks it will affect her: “Listen, I love my girls, but I’m gonna feel more like a woman when this is all done.”

“I’ll be able to say that I survived something major and it’s made me stronger. I will be a better woman for it.”

 Oh boy. More like a woman and a better woman. Yikes.

I hope she’s not setting herself up for a very big, very traumatic fall.

Rancic went on to say that “scars are beautiful. I think scars tell a story.”

Yep, there’s a story there all right. Millions of women can attest to that. There is most definitely a story there. Hopefully not a horror story.

I wonder if she’s seen any images from The SCAR Project. I was blown away by photographer David Jay’s shots the first time I saw them, and receiving The SCAR Project book is one of the best gifts ever (thank you, Trevor). The women are beautiful, and their strength and kick-assed-ness is beautiful.  The scars, not so much.

Giuliana Rancic speculated of her breasts after reconstruction: “They might come out looking even hotter. You gotta have fun with this. We find the humor in everything. Bill helped pick ’em out. I’m like, ‘Bill, that big? Really?'”

They might come out looking even hotter.

I’m gonna have to linger on that idea for a minute.

And when I’m done, I will contemplate the damage that occurs when people say things that imply that facing breast cancer is a tidy event that requires surgery and treatment then fast-forward on to the happily ever after. While the happily ever after certainly can, and does, happen, I think it’s misleading to say that BC is something you deal with and move on. The idea that after cancer comes transcendence is flawed. The idea that all you have to do is wrap a big pink ribbon around a cancer battle is flawed. The idea that everyone comes away from breast cancer a better, stronger person is flawed. It’s not that easy, it’s certainly not pretty, and it doesn’t always result in the kind of change you would consider positive.

In speaking of Rancic’s mastectomy, her husband Bill said, “Our goal is to be done with this by Christmastime and not look back. We’re taking the rear view mirror off the car and we’re not looking back, because we’re going to be done.” Well, considering she had the surgery two days ago, and is still in the hospital, I hope she’s “done” by Christmastime. It’s good to have goals.

Maybe the whole cancer thing is still too fresh for me, too raw, but the idea of not looking back is weird and foreign and borderline incomprehensible. Maybe there’s a pair of magic “don’t look back” glasses that gets passed out upon diagnosis, and I missed out on that. I can see how that might happen as I’m always in a hurry and might have scooted out of Dr D’s office before anyone had a chance to give me the “don’t look back” glasses. Or perhaps I was supposed to get them from my oncologist, but was so freaked out by the fact that I have an oncologist that I ran out of his office before I got the magic glasses. Maybe Giuliana got her glasses in advance; one of the perks of being a celeb and having cancer. Personally, I don’t know how one can experience a cancer “journey” and not look back. I hope it works out for her.

Giuliana is definitely on the fast-track. She says, “I hope for a full recovery by New Year’s Eve. We’re planning to be in Times Square!”

If any of y’all are going to be in Times Square for New Year’s Eve, look out for Giuliana. And be sure you don’t bump into her. Those mastectomy scars and JP drain holes take a while to heal.

19 Comments on “Giuliana Rancic”

  1. Eddie says:

    typical glib, vapid nonsense from another celeb. Perhaps things really will go swimmingly for her and she will be hotter, feel better about herself, and never look back. However, she seems completely unaware by putting this public face on cancer she dimishes the struggles of so many for whom it does not go so well through no fault of their own.

  2. Trevor Hicks says:

    I certainly applaud their positive outlook and wish her the best. I felt the same way in the early afterglow of your diagnosis. Now I see that I was a bit naive. If you had to pick an outlook I think you could do a lot worse than hopeful and naive as long as you’ve got a good dose of resiliency behind it when you need it.

  3. David Benbow says:

    If you don’t look back, you’ll never see how far you’ve come. If you take the rear-view mirrors off the car, the blind spots could kill you.

  4. Amy Pace says:

    I think everyone has a different outlook in each place of their journey. I appreciate your honest take and hope that Guiliana has someone to give her an honest take and support during this tough time. I hope she does not have to fake through it because of media and comments made before she knew what she was dealing with. Your views are fair and so is her hope:) Love ya!

  5. Nellie Sabin says:

    I love this article. You manage to write it from a supportive and understanding place, which is more than I can manage for this woman. She played out her desperate fertility problems all over the tabloids, when in fact she couldn’t get pregnant because she refused to follow her doctor’s orders and EAT. She’ll take hormone shots every day but refuses to gain ten pounds. She has no concept of what health is. And double breast reconstruction IS NOT A BOOB JOB. What a heinous, ignorant thing to say. She has another article in People about choosing an regimen that would allow childbirth – then she said it all came down to wanting to survive. Drama queen.

  6. […] Pink Underbelly has a terrific post on Giuliana Rancic and the nature of “celebrity cancer”, a theme echoed by Anne Marie in her blog […]

  7. Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad says:

    It always hurts me to hear how naive a newly diagnosed person can be and it pains me how the media falls right into line with “positive.” Being positive can help us lead better lives, but, for me, being realisitic keeps me from getting kicked in the butt later.

    That is how and why I wrote Fine Black Lines: Reflections on Facing Cancer (breast), Fear, and Loneliness. And thousands of women have told me that my realism helped them cope more than all the pie-in-the-sky optimism. Meantime I wish Rancic all the best.

  8. Christy says:

    I agree that her positive attitude is great. I just think that, like most people, she is a bit naive as to what she’s in for. You just don’t know until you live it! You, for one, know that. Good luck to her. I pray she has caught it in time and can move on easily.

  9. pinkheart says:

    Thanks for helping me through a particularly rough day of this BC journey laying in bed with my cats and laptop telecommuting with work. Your realistic humor can always make me laugh despite the pain. I wish GR well, too, really do. But Times Square by NYE? I supposed that’s a touch more realistic than St. Bart’s.

  10. Paul here … it’s been awhile. I suppose if anything positive comes out of this People article may provide for more funding for BC research – but listen – you and I both know there’s no money in the cure. I’m hoping G. Rancic was upset when the cover story was posted – “fighting for her life” as we both know is not exactly true. The right choices lead to the right doctors, the right meds, the right plans and the right remedy. As usual, I find more joy in reading the poetry of James Morrison than I do the sensationalism of today’s media where today’s problem is an opportunity to sell another magazine – seems to me we already covered that with the fact there’s no money in the cure.

  11. Jan Hasak says:

    Yeah, this celeb really knows what she is talking about. Not! The scar project really needs to get out there where people can view the images head on. And in a few years, if not sooner, her perfect celeb marriage may crack under pressure as so many others have done.

  12. demi says:

    I agree somewhat but i think she/they are handling it how they know how, my guess is they are probably still in shock. She is entitled to handle her bc her own way.

    She is shit scared hence the they will be better insinuation.

  13. Mandi says:

    I don’t regret my bilateral mastectomy, but they did make it sound a bit easier than it is in the interviews. I can’t imagine romanticizing the outcome though. I think when you are in the spotlight you push to be extra positive, because complaining isn’t going to help anyone. A cancer diagnosis of any kind is scary, and it does take time to know how far along you are (or how much you may be fighting for your life).

  14. Rancic’s comments left me very sad. It felt a little too much like denial of the stark reality. I had a right modified mastectomy, and I didn’t come out feeling “healthier” or with a GREAT self image. I’m doing ok–don’t get me wrong–but breast cancer was not an event for me that I’ve been able to leave in the past.

    So glad you wrote about this…I felt like I was the only one troubled by some of these statements.

  15. Mama says:

    Koryn Hutchison I don’t have to tell you that this hit a very raw nerve with me as well. Fighting for your life is enduring 12 months of chemo, MRSA infections, hospitalizations, surgeries for the MRSA, depleted immune system, and aggressive her2+, inflammatory or Triple Negative breast cancer. Talking to Wendy Williams, a certified over the top breast augmentation crazy woman was probably NOT the person Giuliana needed to talk to about her double mastectomy! Wendy cannot possibly begin to understand how devastating losing a breast or reconstruction is. And the one story that photos from The Scar Project cannot tell is how a woman wight these recreated blobs on her chest cannot even feel them. They are NuMb. Now how’s THAT for feeling more like a woman? I just fear for the women who listen to this and believe that they’ll end up all brand new when it’s over. Nothing could be farther front the truth. Breast cancer sucks no matter who it is bhut unfortunately the irresponsible words spoken by a celebrity who hasn’t walked this journey yet will be terribly misunderstood by the common folks like us.

  16. Thanks for a great post, Pink!! That People article is terribly frustrating, on SO many levels.

    Rancic’s comments were made prematurely and naively, before her BMX. I will bet money that she dials her optimism way down about “looking hotter” and “having fun” with reconstruction. She really has no idea what she is in for. Do any of us? Luckily we don’t all go on TV pre-surgery to talk about how great it’s gonna be to kick cancer’s ass and get new foobs. If only it were that simple.

    In the spirit of Christmas, I forgive the Rancic’s — for they know not what they do. Or say.


  17. lLauren says:

    Just catching up and read this today…it feels a little to me like when we were pregnant and imagined how wonderful it would be and reality set in that yes it is wonderful but a hard long haul. I suppose given the bright yellow headline, there is a story of positive vibes rather than woe is me…

    all that to say, you are so right. I just lost half a breast and still get it as my scars where itching like crazy yesterday for some reason, and i still don’t look in the mirror…

  18. Nellie says:

    Giuliana gets real about surgery:

    She “hosted the Nivea kiss stage” at Times Square, whatever that means. She must be on a LOT of painkillers!

  19. […] We know because we learn the hard way. Despite the Pollyanna snow job by pink-ribbon celebs like Giuliana Rancic and Amy Robach, having a mastectomy does not mean you get new boobs. Not even close. In this […]

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