The E! host, who’s battled breast cancer *and* COVID-19, is on a mission to encourage young women to be proactive about their health.

By Ellie Trice
October 09, 2020
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Having battled and beaten breast cancer herself, Giuliana Rancic has a personal relationship with the word "immunocompromised" — and, as a result, knows just how essential it is to be proactive about your health, especially during this scary health crisis. Unfortunately, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has made keeping up with preventative appointments, tests, and treatments particularly challenging.

In fact, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) recently released their Cancer Progress Report, and it reveals that the number of screening tests for early detection of colon, cervical, and breast cancer "plummeted by 85 percent or more after the first COVID-19 case was reported in the United States." What's more, the delays in cancer screenings and treatment are projected to lead to more than 10,000 additional deaths from breast and colorectal cancer over the next decade, according to the same AACR report.

"This whole experience has made me realize how thankful I am to understand the importance of early detection, of self-exams, and of being in contact as much as you need with your doctor," Rancic told Shape. She recently announced that she — along with her son and husband — contracted coronavirus in an Instagram video explaining her absence at this year's Emmy's. All three have since recovered and are now "on the other side of COVID-19 and feeling good, healthy, and back to [their] daily routine," she says. Still, "it's scary," she adds. "Getting tests done, whether they are COVID-19 tests, mammograms, or video consultations with your therapist is key to prevention."

Now recovering from COVID-19 at home, the E! host has doubled down on her fight to raise awareness for genetic testing (she's recently partnered with medical genetics company Invitae) and proactive self-care, especially since it's October — Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Below, the breast cancer and coronavirus warrior gets real, sharing how she's using her survivor title to encourage young women to own their health. Plus, what she's learned about her own wellbeing during the pandemic.

Knowledge Really Is Power

"I recently realized I wasn’t sleeping at all, and I wasn’t exercising enough. After researching the correlation between the two, and how important they might be to bettering my quarantine health, I knew I wanted to figure out mentally what was causing me to flake out on these crucial elements of my health. I realized, okay, when I’m feeling stressed, or when I’m feeling not calm or uneasy, what's the root of it? For me, that was like reading the news at a certain time of day or too much of it; if there were toxic people I needed to cut out.

Earlier in the pandemic, I had just one person in my life who was just constantly texting me bad news. They were filling up my mind and making me nervous. I saw then that I had to be honest with this person, step back, and let them know I needed some space. Once I identified the roots of my worries — the people, the not sleeping enough, the not exercising enough — that knowledge changed everything." (Related: How and Why the Coronavirus Pandemic Is Messing with Your Sleep)

The Power of Being Proactive with Your Health

"When you look at things in your life that you were afraid to know the real answer about, odds are now you'll look back and say 'thank God that was uncovered'. When it comes to bad news about health — and breast cancer in particular — I can’t tell you how important it is to be proactive about your health; to do self-exams.

Women in your 20’s and early 30’s: When breast cancer is caught early, it has an incredibly high survival rate — the key is to find it early. When I found my cancer, I was only 36. I had no family history, and I was about to begin in vitro fertilization to have a baby. Cancer was the last thing I ever imagined would come up during a routine mammogram before beginning IVF. But as scary as it was for me to hear the words 'You have breast cancer', thank goodness that I heard them when I did because I was able to beat it early."

Rethink Your Perspective

"One night, probably day 30 of my cancer treatments, I just started to look at my medicine for cancer as an incredible vitamin. I started to see it as an energizing way to supercharge my inner strength. I began to see it as this amazing thing helping me, energizing me — almost as though it had the ability to give me this powerful inner glow — and that was it!

This little change came from reading about every little side effect, getting in my own head about it, then knowing I had to stop letting these thoughts take over. I even started to look forward to my medicine. I started to love it. I now apply that to other parts of my life as well because I know how powerful the mind is." (Related: Does Positive Thinking Really Work?)

Learn to Love Your Scars

"For me, my scars from my double mastectomy are a little daily reminder when I’m getting in and out of the shower or changing clothes that I’ve been through something really big.

Growing up I had scoliosis; I had this curvature in my spine, so one hip was higher than the other. I had an illness that made me feel, look, and see myself differently than other girls in middle school and high school. Having rods put in my back to treat scoliosis, and having scars from my mastectomy, have made me better. I feel so lucky I had that experience [with scoliosis] so early on to serve me for the rest of my life. I don't really notice [the scars from the scoliosis surgery] so much anymore. Now I feel they're a natural part of who I am. I look at my mastectomy scars and remember I got through breast cancer and started a family. I look at my scoliosis scars and think of my rods and remember I started feeling strong and fighting my battles in middle school. I'm so thankful for that. I hope any young woman can see their scars the same way too."

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