Along with her husband, Bill, a motivational speaker who appeared on “The Apprentice,” Giuliana Rancic will be the keynote speaker at the Nancy Floyd Haworth Foundation’s 24th Celebration of Hope, an event that combines a breast cancer education seminar with a benefit luncheon, both on April 12.
She and her husband (stars of the Style Network reality show “Giuliana and Bill”) will make their first trip to Albuquerque.
And she’ll be talking about a topic close to her heart: breast cancer.
Not only is Rancic a cable TV fixture, she is also a survivor of breast cancer. She was diagnosed after a mammogram she was obliged to take by the doctor she saw when trying to conceive, a journey documented on her reality show.
Now, she is the cancer-free mother of an 18-month-old son named Duke, and eager to share her journey, she said in a phone interview with the Journal.
The Nancy Floyd Haworth Foundation invited the couple to speak a few months ago. “They reached out and asked if we were interested,” she said. “We were honored to be asked.”
When asked what she’ll talk about in her keynote, Rancic replied: “How to turn a negative into a positive … more of an inspirational talk, telling people about what we’ve been through, how we got through the very dark times in our life and came out on top.”
She added: “It’s been great to be able to use my experiences for good. If you can impart a message that could change a life or save a life, it’s pretty incredible.”
Of breast cancer, she said: “It’s not a death sentence. I think it’s the most important thing – stressing that. If I am able to get through it, and come out healthy and strong, anybody can,” she said. “You have to stay on top of those mammograms.”
She said she will also point out that if detected early, breast cancer has a survival rate of more than 90 percent, and that it’s important for women to not only get mammograms, but to also do breast self-exams. In learning about the disease, she said, she has heard that in 8 to 10 cases, it’s the woman herself, and not the mammogram, that detects the lump for the first time.
“Those self-exams are more important than (women) realize … That’s why its so important when you are in the shower, you are feeling around to make sure there are no changes in your body.”
She hopes high survival stats upon early detection will hit home with her audience. “That’s a strong number that resonates with women,” she said.
Her husband will be joining her in giving the speech, she said, with him talking about how he was a big part of her support system.
“It’s not just the person going through the cancer; it affects everyone. Whoever ends up being the caregiver needs to be prepared,” she said. “When you’re going through it, your decisions tend to be emotion-based and not rational. I would make statements and say I wanted to do certain things, and Bill would say, ‘Let’s ask the doctor,'” she said. “He’ll talk about how he helped guide the process because I was a little emotional.”
Once the talk is over, she’s not sure how the couple will spend the remainder of their time, but she’s looking forward to seeing Albuquerque for the first time. “I hear it’s beautiful. I’m excited,” she said, adding, “My husband’s planning the trip,” so outside of giving their speech, “I’m not quite sure what we will be doing” while in town.
Her involvement with supporting those with breast cancer isn’t limited to giving speeches. In 2012, she launched Fab-U-Wish, an organization that grants fashion, beauty and celebrity-themed wishes to women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. With that organization, she said, she is “definitely involved day-to-day.”
The luncheon at which the Rancics will speak will be preceded by a free seminar starting at 10 a.m. “Updates and Controversies in Breast Cancer” will be moderated by doctors and experts from UNM’s Cancer Center and UNM’s Center for Life, as well as St. Vincent’s and Presbyterian hospitals.
A silent auction will be going on at the same time, to benefit the foundation’s grant program. Then at noon, the Rancics will speak.
The luncheon costs $80, with $40 of that being earmarked for donation to the foundation, which was established in 1990 as a tribute to Nancy Floyd Haworth.
“I think the event is named after a woman who was a pretty incredible woman, from what I hear,” Rancic said.
Nancy Floyd Haworth was the eldest of five siblings, an Albuquerque resident since she was 11, and a graduate of University of New Mexico. She began her career as a dental hygienist, and then became a Realtor.
She died in 1989 at age 42 after a two-year battle with breast cancer, leaving behind a husband and three children.
Her parents, Dr. Vaun Floyd, now deceased, and Mary Floyd, started the foundation in her name in 1990. It became an independent nonprofit organization in 2006. Some of its projects include seminars, mammogram funding for those without insurance, and providing breast cancer resource materials to libraries.
When asked how she thought her daughter would feel about how they are honoring her memory, Mary Floyd replied: “She would probably be very embarrassed. She was a very modest person (but) she would be very happy that it’s functional and helping people.”