After their public struggle with cancer and infertility, celebrity couple Giuliana and Bill Rancic from Style Networks Giuliana & Bill shared the story of their unplanned plan.
How we met was an unplanned plan, Bill Rancic, who first reached fame after winning the first season of The Apprentice, said to the audience of 825 students and community members in the MSC Ballroom, who attended University Lecture Series (ULS) second lecture of the semester.
After meeting with The Apprentices producer Mark Burnett, Bill said he was initially supposed to be an alternate contestant on the show the 17th of 16 apprentices. But someone fell out, and Bill got the spot on the show, winning the season and the attention of media outlets around the country including E!News, the outlet his future wife belonged to.
A beautiful young reporter came through the door to interview me, he said.
The couple first met when Giuliana was assigned to interview Bill after he won the show, and their relationship quickly took off, with both saying they had never made as serious plans with past significant others than they did with each other.
We just had a really fun and exciting relationship after that, Bill said. I got a phone call from the Donald (Trump). He congratulated me on the engagement, but told me to get a pre-nup.
The couple was happy to do the agreement, but Giuliana said she played hardball with clauses such as If you get caught cheating, I get 110 percent of your net worth. Though Bills net worth is estimated to be more than $5 million today, the agreement ultimately ended when Giulianas brother called Bill saying, Italian girls dont sign pre-nups.
We decided to keep open communications after that, Bill said.
Giuliana, who graduated from the University of Maryland with a bachelors degree and then a masters degree from the American University injournalism, said she knew she wanted to be a journalist since she was young.
I moved to America as a little girl from Italy, she said. From third grade when I watched the news, and I saw this beautiful anchorwoman, I wanted to be just like her. The first person to laugh at me was my teacher.
Her teacher told her she should be a cheerleader like the other girls wanted to be. Giuliana, she said, had a harsh name and a harsher Italian accent. News anchors needed to speak proper English.
This ignited a fire in my belly, Giuliana said. For the first time in my life, someone told me I couldnt do something. From then on, I studied journalism, and after graduation I went to Hollywood. I wanted to be an entertainment journalist.
After they married, the couple took their combined talents of journalism and business to the Style Network, where they proposed the idea of a reality show based on their marriage.
Bill said while he initially disliked the idea, it came to be one he favored.
Our marriage was rooted in fun and love and a zest for life, he said. We could show people this marriage, and show them to never settle for less. I was not interested in doing a show for Style Network, but that was our next unplanned plan.
The show has now completed five successful seasons, and a sixth season began this month.
In late 2010, the couple decided they wanted to have children.
Because of medical complications, the couple went through fertility treatments to try to conceive.
Youre going to be tested with struggles and adversities, Bill said. Were fighters and we were going to do everything we could. We decided on IVF. Low and behold, we got pregnant.
Eight weeks later, however, the couple found out they had miscarried.
Before another attempt at pregnancy, doctors recommended that Giuliana take a mammogram in October 2011.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer.
I thought it was going to be fine, she said. I was 36, and I ate well with no history. It was the moment when I was most blind-sided in my whole life. The ground goes away, and you fall through the earth. I was hysterical. I called Bill. Instead of going home and going under my pillows, I think I was in shock. I went in to work.
Giuliana was crushed by the news. For weeks, she said she would ask herself why this was happening.
Eventually, she got her answer when her story reached thousands of fans.
It wasnt till I went public, and people began sharing their stories, she said. It was hearing their stories, and when they compiled, I knew why everything was happening to me. God knew I was this loudmouth Italian girl, and knew I would share my story.
Giuliana decided to undergo a double mastectomy, or surgical removal of both breasts, in December 2011. She struggled with the idea for a long time, but said she gained strength from her husbands words: Honey, I dont care what you look like. I need you around for the next 50 or 60 years.
The unplanned-ness of the couples story has strengthened them, they said.
I am a stronger, wiser, all around better person, Giuliana said. I couldve let it consume me, destroy me, but I chose to share my story. When I set out to do my job, I was just looking for entertainment stories. I never thought I would go out and save lives (with my own story).
Now, the couple shares their story, giving not just advice on cancer to young women, but also on life and business.
You have to ask yourself, will what you are doing today, Bill said. Will that get you to where you want to be in 20 years from now? … When your plan is derailed, embrace it, Bill said. Our plan was derailed, but we embraced it. Our unplanned plan worked out pretty damn good.