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"I was blindsided": Giuliana and Bill Rancic open up about breast cancer journey, and finding new innovations beyond cancer treatment

The Rancics talk cancer care innovations
Giuliana and Bill Rancic open up about breast cancer journey, new innovations in treatment 01:57

In 2011, entertainment reporter Giuliana Rancic was diagnosed with breast cancer. Rancic and her husband, Bill, had been filming a reality show about being newlyweds juggling their busy lives. But suddenly, they were put on a different course. "Giuliana and Bill" would now focus on infertility, a double mastectomy and recovery.

"I was totally blindsided at 36 years old — totally blindsided. No family history of breast cancer, and I got diagnosed," Giuliana told CBS News. "It's very easy to feel like, 'Oh my gosh, this has become my life. When will things go back to normal?' And I am proof they will go back to normal."

After about a year-long journey, the couple was out of the woods. They welcomed a baby boy, Duke, via surrogate in 2012.

Giuliana and Bill Rancic sat down with CBS News for an interview during Breast Cancer Awareness month. CBS News

"They say, 'To whom much is given, much is expected,'" Bill, a businessman and the winner of the first season of "The Apprentice," said. 

"When Giuliana was diagnosed with breast cancer we said, 'You know what, let's showcase this [on the show.]' Maybe other people will be inspired to go out and get a mammogram," he continued. The couple is still committed to sharing their experience and raising awareness for breast cancer. 

This was the second year the Rancics participated in the C3 Prize, an annual competition from Astellas Oncology that funds new innovations in cancer care.

"The C3 Prize is a really amazing opportunity for people who want to change cancer care — and that's what C3 stands for, Changing Cancer Care," Bill said. 

The C3 Prize competition receives hundreds of submissions from people all over the world who have ideas to make the cancer journey easier. From self-help and educational programs, to a new tool for scheduling friends' hospital visits, the C3 prize innovators all have one goal in mind: to ease the burden of the cancer journey for patients and their families.

This year, Bill was a one of the official judges, but Giuliana weighed in on the decision. The C3 grand prize winner was The Nanny Angel Network, an organization that provides mothers with free child care during their cancer treatment.

"That whole concept really spoke to me as a mom of a 7-year-old," Giuliana said. "I can only imagine how much harder that journey would've been had I had Duke in my life."

Giuliana acknowledged there are many non-treatment-related challenges one faces while going through cancer — for many moms, that's child care. "Just the other night, a young woman reached out on social media and she was saying she was having surgery for a double mastectomy, and she has two little girls at home," she said. 

"And she goes, 'I got this — just the one thing is, I have two little girls.' And I thought, that's the first thing on most mothers' minds when they're going through cancer," Giuliana continued. 

"What's great about The Nanny Angel Network is that they provide child care once a week for a year to a family. These are volunteer nannies ... and they play a really big role in these families' lives," she said.

As the grand prize winner, The Nanny Angel Network received a $100,000 grant from C3. Another $100,000 in grants was given to other innovators. 

Bill Rancic was one of the official judges during this year's C3 Prize, but the couple said Giuliana weighed in to help him choose the winner. C3 Prize

The Rancics are extremely busy — they own multiple businesses and continue to make appearances, and while Giuliana recently announced she will not return to "E! News," she assures fans she will still be on the red carpet during awards season. 

Despite their jam-packed schedules, they always make time for breast cancer awareness. "When Giuliana finished treatment we both vowed that we would do all we can to make treatment easier for those following in our footsteps," Bill said. "So, when the C3 Prize opportunity came about, it took us all of three seconds to say, 'We want to be a part of this.'"

Giuliana said she still receives countless messages on social media from women battling the same disease she did 8 years ago — and she's always willing to offer advice. "The best phrase that always helped me was 'This too shall pass,'" she said. "I would think about that over and over again, 'This too shall pass.' And you know what? It did pass." 

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