Understandably, the diagnosis rattled Rancic at first. But then, calling on her trademark pluckiness, she made the brave decision to announce she had breast cancer during an appearance on NBC's Today show.
In the subsequent months, Rancic — who has no family history of the disease — underwent a double mastectomy and, not long after, returned to her role as an E! News anchor and costar of Fashion Police. In the years since, she has devoted much of her time to empowering and educating women about early detection.
"I realized when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, 'Hey, this is a very private thing, and I can be private if I want and not share my story,'" she told SheKnows, "'but I have this incredible platform being on television and reaching so many women every night. Why not get a powerful message out there about early detection?'"
In that respect, Rancic's current collaboration with P.F. Chang's perfectly aligns with her mission.
This October, for the second year running, the popular national restaurant chain will be donating $100,000 to support the American Cancer Society during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Through Oct. 31, diners can join the fight by helping the restaurant reach its benevolent goal — and Rancic is helping to get the word out.
"What's great is that so many people are looking for ways to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer," Rancic said. "But it's hard for people to give a lot of money, so it's nice when companies like P.F. Chang's step in and go, 'You know what? We'll do it for you. Just come enjoy your meal.'"
There are two easy ways to trigger a $1 donation. Diners can simply try the restaurant's new Jicama Street Tacos (which Rancic vows are "delicious!") at any U.S. P.F. Chang's location and the restaurant will donate $1 to the American Cancer Society. Or, alternatively, if you take a pic with P.F. Chang's Warrior Horse and share it on social media using the hashtag #PFChangsPink, the restaurant will likewise make a $1 donation.
Photos from the latter option will later be used to create a stirring digital mosaic of the iconic Warrior Horse, a symbol of strength and protection, which will be adorned with a pink ribbon-shaped wreath at over 300 locations in honor of those who've been impacted by breast cancer.
To Rancic, the gesture resonates. "When people come in, immediately they're reminded it's breast cancer awareness month, and they're reminded a great company like P.F. Chang's is helping in the fight," she explained.
When you're in the midst of that battle, knowing people are in your corner is invaluable. Rancic credits a few proverbial warrior horses in her own life with getting her through the fight. "My mom was a big part of my journey because, when I was diagnosed, I remember just feeling like, 'I want my mom.' We would lay in bed and watch television, and she would always cook me my favorite pasta dishes. It was just so nice having my mom by my side," said Rancic.
Rancic's other "rock," of course, was her husband Bill. "My husband is an incredible guy, and what he did — which I think was very important and is important in the role of any caregiver, no matter what someone's going through — is take the emotion out of the decision-making process. Because I was so emotional, I could not make good decisions. I really couldn't!"
The role of the caregiver, Rancic stresses, cannot be underscored enough.
"People out there who have the opportunity to be a caregiver in someone's life — whether it's a spouse, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a sister, a mom — it is such an important role, and it's one we shouldn't take for granted," she said. "I don't know what I would have done without my husband as my caregiver."
But Rancic had another secret weapon in her battle against breast cancer, and it's one that served her well then and continues to serve her well: a positive attitude. Because the truth is (and it's one that is readily apparent from the outside looking in), even when Rancic is doing something positive, she deals with more than her fair share of naysayers who spread negativity.
Yet she always manages to respond in positivity.
"I'm just a very positive person and I count my blessings every day. And I pray every night with my husband — prayer is a big part of our lives. We pray obviously for good health and different things we're going through, but we also are very thankful and grateful every single night," she told SheKnows.
So her advice to others suffering a hardship or dealing with negativity is to maintain a positive frame of mind. "I just feel like you only live once. It's up to you. You can wake up in the morning and you can choose to be happy, or you can choose to be unhappy. It's really, really up to you."
Almost as though predicting the detractors who'll inevitably decry, "Well, that's easier said than done," Rancic points out that she understands it's not an infallible mentality.
"When I went through breast cancer, there were mornings I woke up unhappy, of course. But I had to just pick myself up off the ground and make that decision every day: Am I going to continue in this emotional funk, or am I going to pick myself up and be happy and just seize the day and enjoy life?" she said. "And that's what I chose to do — and it's been great."
And, despite the ups and downs, Rancic holds fast to her life... just as it is. "I'm very blessed, and I have a beautiful life," she shared. "I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world."
To find out more about P.F. Chang’s breast cancer awareness campaign, visit pfchangs.com/pfchangspink. To learn more about Giuliana's Fab-U-Wish breast cancer awareness program in partnership with The Pink Agenda, visit thepinkagenda.org/fab-u-wish.
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