Here’s what you probably know about reality television stars Giuliana and Bill Rancic: They rose to fame as co-anchor of E! News and winner of The Apprentice, respectively, and for sharing their daily lives on the reality series Bill & Giuliana. And here’s what you probably don’t know about them: They want the public to help them find the next great idea in helping cancer patients that goes beyond treatment.
From now through July 15, they are encouraging anyone and everyone to submit ideas to the C3 Prize, which stands for Changing Cancer Care. The contest is sponsored by Astellas Oncology and will give away up to $200,000 in grant money to the best non-treatment ideas to improve cancer care for patients, caregivers and their loved ones. Their passion for the project stems from when Giuliana was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, and the couple faced many of the challenges with cancer that exist outside of the hospital themselves. That’s exactly what they want to help other people with, and they’re hoping the C3 Prize can help with those solutions. They tell us all about it.
Why did you decide to get involved with the C3 Prize?
Bill: The C3 Prize is essentially a quest to find new and innovative ideas to help improve the lives of those going through cancer and their caregivers. It’s the fourth year that this has been in existence, and hopefully (there will be) many more because it’s really remarkable what’s happened. We’re searching the country and the globe for innovators, entrepreneurs—anyone with an idea big or small that can improve their lives that are non-treatment related. For example, someone who has an idea to help get people to and from appointments that might not have transportation, scheduling, after care, (or addressing) the psychological challenges that come with cancer and fighting the disease. I encourage anyone and everyone, if you have a good idea, to submit at C3Prize.com.
Giuliana: When I was diagnosed at 36, a lot of information came my way in terms of treatment, but more under the medical category. Obviously I needed that and that was very helpful and critical, but while you’re going through cancer, there’s also your everyday life and how you feel and the fears you have, the concerns you have, the support you need. So much more is involved with cancer than the actual treatment itself. You don’t have to be a doctor or in the medical field to have an idea and truly impact the lives of thousands, maybe millions of people, ultimately.
What was the most challenging part outside of treatment for you?
Bill: At the end of the day, there are a lot of other challenges that people face. We got to experience those firsthand. Certainly the treatment, and everything that comes with that, but there are a lot of ancillary challenges. The number one challenge that people face today is transportation, believe it or not. It may seem very simple with Uber and Lyft and some of these other organizations. But when people are going to and from treatment they want a ride with someone they know or a family member because chances are they are either very anxious, or when they’re coming home from the treatment they’re not feeling well, they’re sick, so that’s a very troubling circumstance for some people who don’t have support. We don’t think about that, but there are a lot of challenges like that that exist and that’s what we’re really looking for — ways to improve those ancillary challenges and try to find solutions to the problems.
Giuliana: So many of us women have a lot on our plate. We make these to do lists every day, but yet our health oftentimes isn’t on that list, so we help others in our life — whether we’re parents, friends, daughters — whatever we are, we help a lot of other people. With me, I remember a lot of people would reach out and say ‘what can I do for you; can I help you?’ I said, ‘no, no, I’m fine,’ because I always wanted to be fine. I didn’t want people to feel like they needed to help me or burden anyone. (Now when) people ask us for advice about helping someone going through cancer, we always say ‘don’t ask, tell.’ I remember a friend telling me, ‘go to your door; I left something outside’ and it was a bag full of all my favorite magazines, a book and some snacks. Had she said can I go pick some up magazines and snacks, I would have said, no I’m actually covered because I wouldn’t want her to go out of her way. But when they showed up at my door it was the best surprise, and so it’s little things like that.
Bill, when Giuliana was diagnosed with breast cancer, you became her caregiver. What most surprised you about that role?
Bill: Giuliana is a pretty strong woman, but as with any caregiver your most important role is helping them make decisions based on knowledge instead of decisions based on emotion. When anyone hears the words ‘you have cancer,’ it’s like a punch in the stomach and takes the wind away from you. You want to surround yourself with someone who can help you think (about) the process, help you get great information, and make decisions based on the information that you’re given, not based on your raw emotion, because like anything in life, when you jump to make a decision you later regret it. For me that was my number one role. Now, was I also a short order cook and a stand-up comedian and a driver and a male nurse? Yeah.
Giuliana: I can’t imagine having gone through that without Bill. You have friends and people you can turn to from 6am to midnight, but what happens between midnight and 6am in the middle of the night? You don’t want to be a burden, you don’t want to call anyone, but you’re scared and having someone by your side was very helpful for me. It breaks my heart to think there are a lot of people who don’t have that. Is there something to do in that space to impact people who don’t have a support system but need help in the middle of the night? When you wake up in the middle of the night in a panic and don’t have cancer that’s scary, but when you wake up and do have cancer, it’s a lot scarier. It was definitely a tough time and I certainly can’t imagine having gone through it without Bill.