So often, we have the impression that those in the spotlight are exempt from the crises and frailties the rest of us must face. The fact of the matter is no matter who you are or what you are, cancer doesn’t discriminate.
Q: What were you doing before your diagnosis?
Giuliana: It was an exciting time! We were getting ready to try for a baby and about to begin the second part of in vitro fertilization process.
Q: And your life the day after your diagnosis?
Giuliana: It was the shock of a lifetime. My head was spinning. I felt like I’d just been handed a death sentence. And immediately, Bill stepped up as caregiver.
Bill: I’ll never forget that moment, either. But Giuliana dug deep into her soul to hold herself together. My main objective for both of us was to make decisions based on knowledge rather than on emotion. So I made it my task to arm her with knowledge. And of course, I filled in as short order cook, too!
Q: Who are the people you’ve met since your diagnosis who have changed your life?
Giuliana: Certainly the doctors. We immediately reached out to Dr. Richard Child with the National Institute of Health. He had treated Bill’s father and since we had a preexisting relationship with him, he was a great source of comfort. Dr. Armando Giuliano of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center; my surgeon was fantastic. But here’s something I didn’t expect. As soon as I went public with my diagnosis, I immediately began receiving posts and tweets from people I didn’t even know. When you see words like, “Be Strong!” thousands of times a day you can’t help but begin to believe you are going to strong, and you are going to survive.
Q: What has surprised you the most about survivorship? In other words, what have you experienced that you never expected would be a part of the “cancer package?”
Giuliana: The first year, of course, is especially very difficult. You think your life will never be the same and you’ll never stop thinking cancer and all that comes with it. But suddenly you realize you have moved on, and that life has moved on as well. Time really does heal all wounds. As hard as the entire process was, I’m astounded at how much stronger of a woman I have become. I try not to sweat the small stuff, my priorities have shifted. I’ve become a stronger person in all aspects of my life.
Bill: Something of this magnitude turns down the volume on lots of things. It strengthened our marriage in ways I never expected. I developed new respect for Giuliana as I watched her battle. And in truth, she was way stronger than she remembers. Then, she turned a negative into a positive. We tried to use our show to help others who are going through cancer. We talk about the importance of early detection, and of course about Fab-u-Wish.
Q: We say that cancer draws a line in the sand of your life, there’s before cancer and after cancer. One of our platforms is to encourage women to make their “after” period as fruitful as possible; to use the gifts of time and experience to help other women. We call it their 2nd Act. What’s your 2nd Act?
Giuliana: I really believe in turning your negatives into positives and I try to find some good in tough times. It helps m deal with the bad. So I look at what happened to me, and say to myself, “I was put here to have a greater purpose and help people.” I always want to find why, as in “why, why did this happen to me” — and then do good with it. I came up with the idea of Fab-u-Wish less than a month out of surgery. Everyone around me told me to wait and focus on my own recovery. But I was pretty adamant about getting it started. And Bill came up with name. We were in the car, brainstorming ideas, and it just popped out. I always try to make time to chat with people I know who are newly diagnosed. I want to give folks the tools they need to make the right decisions. People tell me to be careful not take on too much. But I never see it as a burden. Rather, it’s a gift. I feel fortunate to have lived through it and I feel it’s my duty to give back.