You may know her as “The Nanny,” but that’s only one of the many roles this glittering star plays. Her real-life name is Fran Drescher, and in addition to being a talented actor, she is an exceptional advocate for women’s health. Drescher was one of three honorees at the Tenth Anniversary Blossom Ball on May 8. On stage, Drescher was lauded for her tremendous advocacy for women’s healthcare, most notably for early detection and cancer prevention.
After a slew of misdiagnoses – seven to be precise – and two surgeries, Drescher triumphed over uterine cancer in 2000. Grateful to have survived this arduous experience, she embarked on a campaign to ensure that other women need not travel the same path. Channeling her bitterness into “Cancer Schmancer,” a New York Times-bestselling book, was nothing short of cathartic. During the book tour, it became apparent that there was a real need for a leader to promote early detection. Enter The Nanny, stage right! Before long, Drescher had become President, Founder, and Visionary of her own foundation: Cancer Schmancer. The name, for those who didn’t grow up in a Yiddish-infused household, connotes “Cancer, you’re not the boss of me,” Drescher explains.
Gynecological cancers were the initial focus for the Foundation. Its vision has since expanded to include early detection and prevention of all cancers. “Fran vans” roll through low-income neighborhoods in New York and Los Angeles, bringing mammography equipment. “Catch it on arrival, 90% survival!” Drescher implores. Guidelines and videos promoting healthy living appear on the website, cancerschmancer.org.
As she began to question why cancer is so prevalent, Drescher came up with one of her signature lines: “Let’s not get sick in the first place. How’s that for a cure?” This led to the “Detox Your Home” movement and accompanying video starring Drescher, Jamie Foxx and Jeff Bridges, designed to bring teens into the fold.
There are plenty of ways to become an active participant in Cancer Schmancer: sail the night away on a cabaret cruise, bid on Dine with Nanny Fine (her persona on the eponymous show), or attend the Foundation’s annual Master Class Health Summit, a day of talks by experts, emceed by Drescher.
Emmys schmemmys – two-time nominee Drescher knows that awards may be impressive, but she believes that fame can and should be wielded as a powerful tool. “If you’re a celebrity and you’re not leveraging your celebrity for the greater good, you’re wasting it,” she asserts.
And now, for Drescher’s specific advice for endo women: “Always get a second opinion and consider or at least learn about robotic surgery; it’s much more successful than previous protocols.” She is also intent on spreading the word about listening to the “whisper stage,” the time when symptoms signal that “something’s off internally.” Drescher credits her immediate action upon hearing the whispers to saving her life.
And, if you’re wondering whether cancer could possibly have a positive effect on one’s career, indeed, it can. “It made me a better actor because I’m more empathetic to other people’s pain,” she says.
When The Blossom caught up with her, Drescher was acting as herself: cuddling her very own warrior, Samson, her adorable Pomeranian; relishing the excitement of the world premiere of “Safe Spaces” at the Tribeca Film Festival, a film she appears in with co-star Justin Long; and musing about “Uninsured,” the pilot she just shot for NBC. Just another day in the life of this extraordinary woman.
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