We all remember her as the beloved Fran Fine from the CBS hit, The Nanny, always the bumbling nanny pining after the handsome and debonair Maxwell Sheffield. We all cheered as the slapstick humor and brilliantly written scripts would bring us rejoicing almost to love, but then we’d fall back to earth as our favorite commitment-phobic, Mistah Sheffield, would  “take it back.” The comedy ruled our televisions from 1993-1999, but there was drama brewing under the laughter.

Fran Drescher, known for that unforgettable nasal-toned voice, infectious laugh, and thick New York accent, knew something wasn’t right.  The two-time Emmy and Golden Globe nominee would experience bouts of excruciating abdominal pain while on the set, often powering through the pain to complete her scenes.  Finally, after countless doctor misdiagnoses, Drescher was diagnosed with uterine cancer and underwent a total hysterectomy.  That hysterectomy not only physically altered her

Finally, after countless doctor misdiagnoses, Drescher was diagnosed with uterine cancer and underwent a total hysterectomy.  That hysterectomy not only physically altered her life, but also led to her new passion of advocacy and prevention.  I had the incredible opportunity to interview the Malibu beauty as she prepared for her Cancer Schmancer Health Summit on October 24th in Los Angeles.

 

Karen:  A diagnosis of cancer completely redirected your life.  Eight doctors misdiagnosed you before you heard the word cancer.  Now you have devoted your life to be a voice for cancer wellness, early detection and prevention.  How has this new passion changed your life?

Fran: I change my pain into purpose which helps to make sense of this senselessness. I really believe that I got famous, I got cancer, and I lived to talk about it, so I’m talking. My life has changed exponentially.  I began the health advocacy organization that has the same name as my best-selling book, Cancer Schmancer. I realized after the book was written, it was not the end but just the beginning of what has become a life mission. A great deal of my time is spent speaking, traveling and organizing my vision for the organization which includes our programs and our annual education events. Currently, I’m extremely focused on The Fran Drescher Health Summit Oct 24th at The Music Center in Los Angeles.   Cancer Schmancer has deepened my life in a way I could have never predicted. I’m not glad I had cancer, but I am better for it.

Karen:  What are some of the unique challenges that your diagnosis brought? How did those 
challenges shape your life after cancer?

Fran: I was extremely lucky that even after two years and eight doctors, I was still in Stage One, when cancer is most curable. Many people aren’t as lucky. And the reason we lose loved ones to cancer is almost always due to a late-stage diagnosis. So I began to question, “Why isn’t everyone diagnosed in stage one? Why, in a country as wealthy as ours, are so many people sick? And, why do we spend so much time and money looking for a cure with little to no focus on the cause?  This became my obsession and vision for my organization, Cancer Schmancer, with the cornerstone being early detection:  if you catch it on arrival, 95% survival. But then causation became the next deep involvement and quest! Let’s not get cancer in the first place, how’s that for a cure?

Karen:  Cancer Schmancer is a movement you created after your best-selling book chronicled your cancer journey.  Tell us about your non-profit.

Fran: Cancer Schmancer is a three-prong organization: Prevention, early detection, and policy change. Too many people do not associate their own lifestyle as the reason they, or their loved ones, may experience disease. But in fact, well over 90% of most illnesses and cancer is triggered by environmental toxins. We educate people into becoming mindful consumers with our extremely progressive “Detox Your Home” program! We educate you on what you are eating, on all of your personal care items, including oral hygiene, and what you are cleaning and gardening with as the foundation for a detoxified, healthier life. With early detection, we educate people into understanding that you must make that appointment for the doctor when you feel the whisper symptoms. That is the time when it’s most easy to ignore but essential to act upon!
Recognize the early warning whispers and know the tests that are available, because all too often they are not on the menu at the doctor’s office. And lastly is getting involved & making some noise! Going to our elected officials and creating policy change on behalf of the greater good. We were extremely instrumental in getting the Gynecologic Cancer Education and Awareness Act passed by unanimous consent. That

Going to our elected officials and creating policy change on behalf of the greater good. We were extremely instrumental in getting the Gynecologic Cancer Education and Awareness Act passed by unanimous consent. That means all 100 Senators said, “Yes Fran!”

Karen: What do you consider your greatest achievement, thus far, for Cancer Schmancer?

Fran: You know, the organization itself is so fresh, so outside of the box with its originality of thinking that’s so motivating and so informational, I think its very existence for all these years and its struggle to survive in a reductionist world hell-bent on finding a cure without understanding the cause, is our greatest accomplishment. But I would have to say, I’m extremely proud of our Health Summit scheduled this year for October 24, 2017, in Los Angeles. This has become an annual event that encompasses a full spectrum of cutting-edge health information for the whole family. It’s actually quite exciting and mind-blowing for those who attend because we get speakers with ideas and revolutionary techniques that are going to change the course of medicine in the 21st-century. This year will be our third annual event and it is in complete harmony with the Cancer Schmancer Movement, from the food to the speakers to the program itself, everyone who attends is transformed from the patient into medical consumer!

Karen: Tell us more about the Cancer Schmancer Summit.

Fran: The Health Summit supports Cancer Schmancer programs.  It is a complete day of education from cutting-edge experts in all fields of health. By the time the event is over, you leave with a game plan, far more educated and motivated than when you arrived. Instead of feeling hopeless and helpless, you feel empowered and knowledgeable, Learning how mind, body & spirit need to be in constant balance in order for your immune system to be optimal.  You understand about gut microbiome and how that’s the center of your immune system as well as the mouth/body connection. Each speaker is a highly accredited doctor or expert in health. Our expert authors bookstore allows guests to purchase an assortment of books to take home and further this profound day of education.

Karen: Let’s talk balance – one of the toughest challenges for survivors.  It’s important for those who have taken the cancer journey to find a place of comfort with all things survivorship, bring a woman and juggling with what used to be our “norm.”  What is your advice to our readers about finding balance?

Fran: The new normal, post-cancer is not and never will be the old normal. Stop trying to go back, rather go forward. Cancer happened.  Now what do you think played a role in that and what can you do to strengthen your immune system? Turning your pain into purpose helps to make sense out of the senseless. So, become active & volunteer. Join Cancer Schmancer, become a medical consumer, learn how the products we use and the foods we eat contribute to our poor health and chronic inflammation.  Don’t try to go back because that old lifestyle obviously did not serve you well.  Rather see this chapter as an awakening and a holistic change in wellness!

Karen: You are known for your unique voice.  Now, you have done so much to be “the voice” in Washington for advocacy efforts.  How can those who can’t be in Washington make a difference, too? 

Fran: First change yourself, then your family, then friends, neighbors and extended family. Go to
petition.com.  That’s a great way to get your voice heard. Also become an activist in your community. Encourage schools to go toxic-free in play areas, cleaning products and lunch meals. Ask your local grocery store to carry more organic, local, family-farmed non-GMO produce, meats and products. Cut back on buying plastic wrapped foods as well as all grocery items. Refuse the straw! Drink filtered or pristine water and a lot of it. Take the in, on and around you check, choose and change challenge through the Detox Your Home Cancer Schmancer Program, and lastly, each one, teach one.

Karen:  What’s coming next from our beloved Fran Fine?

Fran: I’m very busy writing on numerous projects. I am working on a feature, a Broadway Musical, and my next book. Of course, Cancer Schmancer keeps me quite busy as we are now in post-production on the latest teen-targeted Detox video starring Jamie Foxx that will be available to school assemblies, after-school clubs and all pathways of social media.  Next major event after The Health Summit is our June 2018 NY Cancer Schmancer Cabaret Cruise evening of motivation and music in the Hudson Harbor on the magnificent Hornblower! When life hands you lemons, make lemonade!

And in a conclusion of some true ring of “Fran Fine” laughter, we will toast the career, passion and advocacy of everyone’s favorite Nanny, Fran Drescher, and look forward to many years of working together to educate and inspire.  Thank you, Fran.  And goodnight, Mistah Sheffield.

 

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Karen Shayne is the Founder of the Women Survivors Alliance and Principal Partner of New Focus Network, a media company producing lifestyle and positive content across multiple platforms for broadcast, cable, digital and its own SVOD. Karen is a regular contributor to the magazine through her blog and her show "Living Inspired" on NFN.