by Kim Henderson
The Happily Divorced Star’s Cancer Prevention
Mission and Personal Health Secrets Revealed!
Cover Story 16.2
The lovely Fran Drescher.Photo by Russell Baer
Her unapologetic sex appeal, unmistakable laugh and Queens, New York, accent are all uniquely Fran. Exuberant, outspoken and accessible, Fran Drescher exudes a radiant beauty that comes from being comfortable in her skin and caring for her body, mind and spirit—and sharing her life experience with others through art and health advocacy. A uterine cancer survivor now for nearly 12 years, Fran has used her health crisis as an opportunity to make well-being a top priority and early detection her mission with the formation of her nonprofit organization Cancer Schmancer. And luckily for us, the engaging star we came to love in the hit ’90s comedy series The Nanny is on television again in the second season of her new hit TV Land show Happily Divorced. Healthy Living recently caught up with Fran to talk about Cancer Schmancer and her personal health secrets.
Fran is lucky. During the two years she went from doctor to doctor being misdiagnosed with a perimenopausal problem and told that she was too young and too thin to have something more serious, she had a very slow-growing form of gynecological cancer. When she finally was diagnosed, it was at stage 1. The radical hysterectomy she underwent removed it completely, and she has been in remission ever since. But as she tells me, “Other women are not so lucky. The woman with ovarian cancer is often misdiagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome. Over 80 percent of women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed in the late stages. And over 70 percent of them will die.” Hence, Fran wrote the book Cancer Schmancer and founded the Cancer Schmancer movement and foundation in 2007.
CREATING MEDICAL CONSUMERS
Fran starts by explaining that the name Cancer Schmancer was chosen to say, “Cancer is not the boss of me.” For that matter, the organization advocates that your doctor is not the boss of you either. Instead of placing one’s physician in an authority/parent position that is not to be questioned, Cancer Schmancer suggests that it’s better to be a medical consumer—that is, a patient who forms a partnership with her or his doctor. Fran explains, “You ask a lot of questions. You come in armed with information. You have your list there. You bring in a friend who is your ally who is devoted to asking questions and writing down answers.”
The first doctor Fran visited failed to run a biopsy because only 25 percent of uterine cancer cases occur before menopause, despite the fact that she was exhibiting classic uterine cancer symptoms. As Fran points out, too often the medical establishment encourages the least expensive route of diagnosis, which does not always put a patient’s welfare first. If Fran could go back and do her experience over, she would follow exactly what Cancer Schmancer advises. “When they said that I didn’t need a biopsy because I was too young, I wish I would have said, ‘Wait, what would that test rule out? Maybe we should do that and rule out more serious diseases before treating me for a more benign ailment that I may not have.’”
Becoming a medical consumer could mean life or death. “I don’t give anyone power of attorney over my money, so I’m not going to do it over my body,” Fran tells me with complete seriousness. She’s got a point. “Doctors are very busy people. They have their own problems. When a doctor tells you that you have cancer, at the end of the day, he goes home and eats dinner with his family. You go home and eat your heart out with yours,” she says. She also underscores that it’s not just the cancer sufferer who is affected—an entire circle of family and friends are too.
Refreshingly, Cancer Schmancer focuses on the area that can make the greatest amount of difference—early detection and prevention, leaving cure-finding to others. Fran explains, “Catch it on arrival, 95 percent survival. The reason we lose loved ones to cancer is almost always the stage of diagnosis. If we diagnosed people at stage 1, almost everyone would live.”
According to Fran, America has cancer “cure” fatigue, and it’s time to change the focus. While searching for a cure is important, Cancer Schmancer aims to save more lives by reducing environmental risks—something we can all start doing today. As part of the Trash Cancer initiative, Cancer Schmancer and several other partner organizations are sounding the alarm on the countless chemicals present in what we put in our bodies and what we bring into our homes. Ridding these chemicals from our lives as much as possible is the name of the risk-reduction game.
Fran explains, “We can start doing this today, through knowledge and good, old-fashioned American consumerism.” That means purchasing toxic-free home cleaning products (see our story on pages 14-15); furnishing our homes with nontoxic paints, carpets, draperies and furniture; choosing personal-care products that are free of chemical additives; and consuming purified water and organic whole foods as much as possible. Fran says, “Once you wake up and smell the coffee, it’s hard to go back to sleep.” You can visit the Cancer Schmancer site to find the GoodGuide, which will tell you the level of toxicity of a particular product.
STAYING HEALTHY AND CANCER-FREE
Fran’s life today is busy and full but built on a foundation of wellness. She practices what she preaches, consuming fresh organic produce, minimal animal protein, and lots of spring and alkalinized water; taking walks and hikes outdoors in the fresh air; and keeping stress to a minimum. She uses only biodegradable cleaning products in the home and has canceled the routine pesticide sprayings her gardener used. Additionally, she is very careful to use only personal-care products that are animal cruelty-free and free of harmful chemicals.
The habit she says she’s most religious about is starting each day with a bowl of fresh, organic fruit. “When you eat fresh fruit in the morning on an empty stomach, and particularly after a full night’s sleep, it is the best time for your body to absorb all the fruit’s powerful nutrients.” Her other secret is drinking plenty of water. “If we don’t give our bodies a lot of spring or pH-balanced water, we’re not enabling our organs to function optimally,” she says.
In terms of specifics for her diet, she eats plenty of high-alkaline foods (organic vegetables) and is very careful about choosing only local, grass-fed organic meat in small quantities. “A little bit of animal protein goes a long way. I think it’s healthier for our bodies to eat just a small amount,” she says.
And while her supplement routine varies, she does take vitamin E for breast health, Norwegian cod liver oil and probiotics a few times a week. “The cod liver oil helps build the healthy cholesterol in your body to offset any bad cholesterol. I believe having a healthy intestinal tract is important, and that’s why I take probiotics,” she says. She pays attention to oral hygiene too. “The mouth is the gateway to a lot of problems if you don’t keep it clean. I [use a] Waterpik and floss. And I use homeopathic toothpaste,” she says. She has also had all the silver fillings replaced in her teeth as they contain mercury. When her energy level dips and she feels she might be getting sick, she takes a homeopathic product such as oscillococcinum. “I suck on a Cold-EEZE, which is a honey and lemon lozenge, or I’ll have an Emergen-C, a high vitamin C drink, and lie down and hope that it passes and drink a lot of water,” she says.
But perhaps most important to Fran is tending to her mind and spirit. Despite adversity, Fran has always maintained a thoroughly positive outlook, which requires attention. Nature is a place of solace for her. Living in Malibu with an ocean view, she tells me, “I never tire of looking at wild dolphins, seals and birds.” In addition to long beach walks and hikes in the local area, she does Pilates and practices Zen meditation. “I try to live in the present, striving to be grateful and happy and live with some grace. And I try to remove influences that create stress and fear. Fear is, as most know, not a good thing for the body to experience on an ongoing basis,” she explains.
She consciously picks and chooses what information finds its way into her psyche, abstaining, for the most part, from watching 24-hour news due to the ratings-grabbing, fear-based reporting. Instead, she puts her attention on what’s happening that’s good. She explains, “I like to focus on the people who are out there doing things for the greater good that are worthwhile and loving.” She listens to tranquil music most of the time. “We live in stressful times. If you have a high power position like I do, it’s doubly hard,” she says. Along with nature, culture feeds her soul. “I find fine art very restorative,” she says. She values the wisdom of the inner voice and finding something positive out of any situation.
Sharing the message of health is born out of Fran’s quiet contemplation and desire to contribute something meaningful to the world, but it also informs her work as an actress, writer and producer—and now children’s book author. Happily Divorced is inspired by her real-life heart-breaking divorce from her ex-husband and business partner, Peter Marc Jacobson, who is now living as a gay man. In the show, the couple divorces when the husband realizes he is gay, and, unable to sell their home, they have to live together as a divorced couple—she as a newly single woman and he as an openly gay man for the first time. Hilarity ensues. Art imitates life as Peter executive produces the show along with Fran, who also stars. Ironically, although divorced, Fran and Peter
are still together and very much supporting each other. It’s a beautiful story of two people living authentically. It’s no mistake that Fran’s new children’s book, Being Wendy, encourages children to be their authentic selves, even if it looks different from their peers.
Fran’s Natural Product Picks!
As a medical consumer and the founder of Cancer Schmancer, I believe it is important to rid your home of chemicals as much as possible and continue to move in that direction. Household cleaning products are a big contributor to the toxins we are exposed to in the home. I try to use as many toxin-free, eco-friendly, biodegradable products as possible. Earth Friendly Products is a great example of a company whose products are not only safe, but also work well.
When it comes to minor pain, I like to go natural whenever possible. Curamin, made from curcumin, is an excellent totally natural alternative to conventional pain relievers.
I love Sovereign Silver! In stressful times, your immune system is in jeopardy. This helps bolster the immune system to hedge against times when stress may compromise it.
I love the wholesome ingredients of French Secret Anti-Aging Fluid and Deep Cellular Repair. These products are packed in glass, which is great. The Deep Cellular Repair is very hydrating and moisturizing.
Eco-DenT Toothpowder is lovely. The mouth is the gateway to disease. Oral hygiene is key to a healthy body.
I got into using Hawaiian Health Ohana’s IcyHeat Lavender Noni Lotion when I had upper respiratory congestion. It really helps clear the nasal passages and decongest the chest. I love the scent.
It is particularly difficult to find healthy and safe hair care that perform! I found that Beauty Without Cruelty Rosemary Mint Tea Tree shampoo and conditioner have a great clean fragrance and perform nicely.
As I mentioned, probiotics are really important to digestive health. I like UAS Labs’ Probioplus DDS because it delivers ample amounts of a hardy, proven strain to the digestive tract.
Bragg Live Foods Organic Apple Cider Vinegar diluted with water is excellent for a detoxifying one-day fast as it draws impurities out of the body and is very alkalinizing. And Bragg Liquid Aminos provide a healthy way to flavor veggies and rice.
For wrinkles around the eyes, I like Episilk PHA Serum. It’s made of hyaluronic acid and I really like that it’s non-animal derived.
Xlear Sinus Nasal Spray is soothing and helps eliminate sinus congestion.
Fran’s new book Being Wendy is available at major booksellers and at Amazon.com
Cover Stories from Past Issues
Cover Story 16.1
Donna Richardson Joyner’s Tips for a Healthy 2012
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