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Giuliana Rancic, my celebrity breast cancer twin

5 Dec

I got a call from my editor a couple of days ago, sharing some top secret (sad) news.

Giuliana Rancic, the young and vivacious cohost of E! News who’d appeared on the TODAY show in October to discuss her recent breast cancer diagnosis, was coming back on the show early Monday morning to talk about her latest news. She now had to have a double mastectomy.

Would I like to write about this? my editor asked. Absolutely, I told her.

As someone who only too recently lived through a cast-iron-skillet-to-the-head cancer diagnosis and a double mastectomy (not to mention chemo and radiation), I had plenty to say. (Check out some of my previous essays about breast cancer on Today.com and you’ll see what I mean.)

Here’s how my latest piece, entitled Giuliana Rancic, my celebrity breast cancer twin, starts. As always, thanks for the read.

Some women look to celebrities when they’re pregnant, identifying with famous moms-to-be who are due around the same date.

Others, like me, look for celebrity cancer twins, like E! News host Giuliana Rancic, who just joined the ranks of my small group of hapless — but hardly hopeless — heroes.

Don’t get me wrong; I wouldn’t wish cancer on anyone. But there’s something incredibly powerful about a smart, successful celeb letting down her perfectly coiffed hair to speak openly, honestly and even fearfully about a wretched, life-changing disease that has turned her world — and mine — completely upside down.

Wanda Sykes is another such cancer twin. Diagnosed in February of this year (same as me), the comedian went on Ellen back in September to talk about her double mastectomy. During the interview, which I’ve probably watched a dozen times, Sykes looks healthy and beautiful and strong. More importantly, she’s fazed but still funny, taking potshots at her cancer as if she were back roasting the president at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

NBC News’ tough, tenacious Andrea Mitchell is another cancer twin. Ditto for Christina Applegate .

And now there’s Rancic, the 37-year-old funny, self-effacing cohost of E! News and Fashion Police, who discovered her disease while prepping for a third round of in vitro fertilization treatments.

To read the full story click here.  

As always, I’m curious how others deal with their breast cancer. Have any of you adopted “celebrity cancer twins,” people who were diagnosed at the same time you were (with breast cancer or anything else)?

If so, have they inspired you? Helped you get through your ordeal? Made you so angry that you fought even harder? Would love to hear your thoughts.

Mastectomy and the single girl

12 Nov

Originally published October 14, 2011 on SingleShotSeattle.wordpress.com

I’m still not sure if this was really brave or really stupid, but whatever the case, I decided to write a series of personal essays about my battle with breast cancer for Today/MSNBC.com.  The first, “Mastectomy and the Single Girl,” went live today. Here’s how it starts:

Most people cry and cuss and rage at the universe when they’re first diagnosed with breast cancer.

Me? I scheduled a pin-up shoot.

Not that I didn’t do all of that other stuff, too, along with cracking bad jokes and mocking any and all medical personnel within spitting distance.

When the radiologist — aka Dr. Debbie Downer — came into that small dark room to tell me that the ultrasound had found three masses in my two breasts, I cried and raged plenty. I also told her I couldn’t have cancer because I was health writer, as if knowledge comes with a protective shield.

But just like the other 230,000 plus women diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. every year, I had no shield. What I had instead was a needle biopsy, which confirmed that the masses were all positive for invasive lobular carcinoma, a “sneaky” cancer seldom found in the early stages because it doesn’t create a lump.

One of the tumors had caused a tuck, though, a small dent under my left nipple. That dent — and the fact that I had checked it out — undoubtedly saved my life.

To read the rest of the piece, click here.   To find out more about Old School Pinups, the people who did my pin-up shoot (including the attached photo), click here.

My next essay, “Love in the Time of Chemotherapy,” will come out next week (I’ll post another link when it goes live).  As always, folks, I look forward to your thoughts on the piece.

Unless your name happens to be “SueinTX“.  Sheesh lady, lighten up. I got cancer here!  ; )