When Giuliana Rancic learned in 2011 that she had breast cancer, the diagnosis came as a shock.
“I was 36 years old,” she told PEOPLE on Tuesday at Living Beyond Breast Cancer and Genentech’s Not One Type breast cancer awareness pop-up in New York City. “It really came out of left field.”
And without the proper resources to learn about her form of breast cancer, Rancic felt lost.
“I would walk out of the doctor’s office and I would remember one or two nuggets of information he gave me and I would Google those,” the E! host, now 43, recalled. “And then I would think, ‘She has this, so I’m obviously going to have this surgery and have this medication.’ That’s not necessarily the case, so that’s why you want as much information as you can get.”
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Partnering with Not One Type, which aims to help women learn about their specific type of breast cancer, has allowed Rancic to give others in her position more information than she had. “There are just so many factors that go into your treatment and if you could just go into the doctor’s office with your questions ready and do the research with those answers, then you’ll be so much better equipped to move forward and get the treatment that’s right for you,” she said.
The mom to son Duke, 5, celebrated six years cancer free in December, and has fans tell her all the time how her journey encouraged them to get checked. But Rancic wasn’t always certain she wanted to go public with her diagnosis.
“It was hard to come to the decision to share my story,” Rancic admitted. “I held back a couple of months before I decided to come out with it. I honestly didn’t know what to expect. For me though, I decided to share my infertility journey, which was very empowering, so that helped me come to the decision to share my breast cancer story as well. I thought, if this can happen to me, this can happen to anyone. I thought how all these women my age, younger, older, watch me on TV every night and if just one woman goes and does a self check, or gets a mammogram and finds her breast cancer early, wouldn’t that be incredible?”
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The TV personality pointed out that breast cancer has a five-year survival rate of 99 percent, but “the key for me is getting out there and encouraging women to find it early,” she said. “More women find their breast cancer themselves than at the doctor or mammogram. I have women all the time who say, ‘I found my breast cancer early because of you and I’m going to be okay.’ And I think, ‘Wow, what a privilege to be able to use my platform to help so many people.’ “