Fran Drescher Talks Cancer Schmancer with NM

Photo by via Flickr Creative Commons.
Photo by via Flickr Creative Commons.

by nicole panteleakos

Actress, author, and advocate Fran Drescher is probably best known to the average American as the creator and star of the successful 90s sitcom, The Nanny, but as Nanny Magazine learned during an interview with Drescher over the summer, she’s spent the last decade doing more than performing—she’s saving lives.

In 2000, after years of misdiagnosis, Drescher was diagnosed with uterine cancer, requiring her to undergo a hysterectomy. “My whole life has been about changing negatives into positives,” Drescher said. Her second novel, Cancer Schmancer, details her experiences with the disease, and also inspired a movement of the same name, the purpose of which is to educate women not only about diagnosis and treatment of the disease, but about early detection and prevention.

According to their website, Cancer Schmancer’s primary mission is “to shift the nation’s focus from just searching for a cure to prevention and early detection of cancer in order to save lives.”

The key to surviving any cancer, including uterine cancer, is early detection. As survivor Fran Drescher put it to Oprah in a 2010 interview, “If you catch it on arrival, 95% survival!” Pap smears are not indicators of whether one has or is at risk for uterine cancer, so be sure to consult your doctor if you are having any symptoms that may indicate a problem, especially between-cycle or post-menopausal bleeding.

Even better than early detection is prevention. Drescher advises women to check out www.cancerschmancer.org to learn about how to purge the cancer-causing toxins from one’s home, as the home is the place people “have the most control over” but also the place in which one is most exposed to potential dangers. Says Drescher, we must all “make better choices (about) what’s in your mouth, on your skin, what you’re gardening with…” As a starting point, readers can go online and enter household products into the movement’s website to see what they’re rated and whether or not they’re recommended.

After the interview, Nanny Magazine contributor Nicole Panteleakos decided to check the ratings of some of her household products, and was shocked to learn that several items in her home, including the same brand of toothpaste her charges use, had received extremely low safety ratings, and that the baby wipes one of her families used to buy had received a rating of only 6 (out of 10) due in part to “limited disclosure of ingredients.” Additionally, it has been proven that some baby products that are safe in other countries include carcinogens when sold in the United States. This must change, which leads to the movement’s third mission: policy change.

Drescher says, “We are very active in Washington and currently have an initiative to get legislation passed to put a label on all products,” which will make it easier for consumers to “make healthier choices… so you don’t have to go to MIT to understand the ingredients!” Drescher adds that she feels “very optimistic about this… Through consumerism we can begin to dictate manufacturing trends, because at the end of the day companies don’t want to kill us, they want to sell to us.

Cancer Schmancer is also highly involved in educating the public through awareness programs available to students. The website houses directions and sign-up forms for those interested in hosting detox—or “Trash Cancer”—parties to help themselves and their friends protect themselves and their homes.

Additionally, for those nannies, MomBosses, and other women living in the Los Angeles or New York metropolitan areas, the Cancer Schmancer website includes information about Fran’s Vans, mobile medical centers that provide free cancer screenings to qualifying women.

One American will die of cancer every minute this year. That’s 60 deaths per hour, 1,440 deaths per day, 10,080 deaths per week, for a total of around 525,600 deaths per year.

But there is hope through advocacy, prevention, and early detection. See www.cancerschmancer.org for more information.

Check out the main highlights of our interview with Fran Drescher in the November/December 2014 issue of Nanny Magazine, available in NM's store as a digital single.