Viewers of the couple’s hit Style Network show Giuliana & Bill know the story well: Giuliana went through three IVFs (one she miscarried; one didn’t take), and then, at 36, was diagnosed with cancer. She had a double mastectomy. Unable to carry the embryos from her third IVF (due to her cancer medication), she enlisted a gestational surrogate, who gave birth to their son on August 29. Come November, after a few months of baby-bonding, it’s back to work.
Congratulations on Duke! What’s your favorite thing about him?
I love when I feed him in the middle of the night. Those moments are incredible, when it’s so quiet and there’s just a little bit of a light on, just looking at his little face.
The road to baby was a tough one for you. You’ve said you were blindsided by how difficult it was.
It was a big shock! I always say how I chased my career instead of chasing guys. And everybody was patting me on the back. No one ever told me, "Oh, by the way, your eggs change when you reach a certain age." I didn’t think 35 was old! So when the doctor said, "It’s not as easy as you thought it would be," it was a real blow. Because I felt so young. I mean, this is a girl who was running six miles a day, and eating healthy, so how can you tell me that I’m not healthy in that department?
So would you have done anything differently?
I don’t think I would’ve frozen my eggs. A lot of people throw that out there, like, "Oh, just freeze your eggs." That is major. It’s surgery! As a 25-year-old making not a lot of money, you’re not just going to go through all that and freeze your eggs.
Were you ever frustrated to see other women getting pregnant?
My first IVF I did get pregnantthat was the miscarriage. But the second one, I did not get pregnant, and that was the biggest kick in the stomach, because I just could not believe you go through so much to get those eggs and put them in, and when the doctor calls you, to hear, "Oh, sorry, it didn’t work." That was the most shocking. I would go, "I’m a good person, and I could give someone the greatest life of all, but yet I can’t get pregnant." And then you watch these TV shows, 16 and Pregnant, and these girls who want nothing to do with their babies are pregnant. And you’re going, what? None of that made sense to me.
Had you known what was coming, would you have chosen to keep any of this private?
Had you given me a crystal ball when we were signing on to do the reality show that said, "This is what’s coming up, do you want to do it?" I would’ve said absolutely not. You couldn’t pay me enough. But, looking back, I’m so happy that I did do it. As I would question God, "Why are you doing this to me, why me?" I think God knew I was a loud-mouthed Italian girl who would get out and share my story, not tuck it under a rug.
After finding your cancer, did you know what your next steps would be?
No way, are you kidding? I was shell-shocked. I thought I was going to die. I didn’t know that if you find breast cancer early enough, you have a 98 percent survival rate. I went to work right after finding out and did E! News. I recently watched that episode and I don’t know how I pulled it off. Afterward, I ran into my dressing room and started hysterically crying. Bill was really the one who had to pick me up off the floor and say, "Hey, we’re making a plan here." He took over.
Focus on the positive. Whenever I was so sad, when I was on the floor kicking and screaming and crying, the best way I could pull out of it was when I would remind myself: Even with this happening, you’re still better off than a lot of people. For me, it was saying, "Yes, I have breast cancer. Yes, I had to have a double mastectomy." But, you know what? Thank God I’m going to a good doctor. I’m so fortunate I found it early. I’m so fortunate to have Bill. I’m so fortunate that I have a boss who understands.
What is your cancer prognosis right now?
As of this week, I’m a one-year survivor! I get checked every three months, and I’m looking good.
Where do you feel your absolute happiest?
Taking a long walk on the lakefront of Chicago with my husband and my baby boy.