Zibby Owens Podcast: Fran Drescher


Zibby is joined by creator and star of The Nanny and founder of The Cancer Schmancer Movement, Fran Drescher, to talk about her 2003 New York Times bestseller, Cancer Schmancer, and how its release changed her life forever. After sharing her journey battling uterine cancer, Fran realized just how common her story was and set out on a mission to help everyone live cleaner and healthier lives. If you'd like to participate in Fran's Mahjong Tournament fundraiser, hosted by Modern Mahjong and benefitting the Cancer Schmancer Movement, sign up at cancerschmancer.org.


Zibby Owens: Welcome, Fran. Thank you so much for coming on "Moms Don't Have Time to Read Books." It's such a pleasure to chat with you.

Fran Drescher: Thank you. I'm delighted to be here. I appreciate the support.

Zibby: Of course. I'm excited to talk about your book, Cancer Schmancer, and how it inspired a whole movement and how your life inspired a movement and how we've ended up here. Now you're collaborating with Modern Mahjong for this charity event. I'm very excited to hear the whole thing. 

Fran: It took me two years and eight doctors to get a proper diagnosis with uterine cancer. By the grace of God, I was still in stage one. A radical hysterectomy was my cure. I began to feel like I didn't want what happened to me to happen to other people by means of misdiagnosis and mistreatment. I decided to write the book, Cancer Schmancer, to share my story with the readers. That took me four drafts, longhand. Back then, I felt very bitter that it took so long. I felt betrayed by the medical community, that they didn't give me the simple endometrial biopsy that most likely would've diagnosed me earlier. I kept slipping between the cracks because only one in four women with uterine cancer are young and thin, as I was. They just didn't think that they should rule that out. Rather, they assumed I was perimenopausal. They put me on four different hormone replacement therapies, the last one having estrogen in it, which is literally like taking poison if you have uterine cancer. I started breakthrough bleeding twenty-four/seven. That's when I knew something was wrong. I called doctor number eight. She said, "Let's do an endometrial biopsy, but it's probably just the wrong pill that I gave you." While she's doing the biopsy, she's acting like I have five minutes of fertility left and I should definitely freeze some embryos with my boyfriend if I ever want to have a biologic child. Three days later, she called and said, "You have adenocarcinoma. I'm very surprised." I said, "What's that?" She said, "Uterine cancer." That was the beginning of BC and AC, before cancer and after cancer in my life. 

When I wrote the book to share my story in what ultimately, by the fourth draft, became a very inspiring, motivating, sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, empowering book, I went on the book tour as celebrities who are cancer survivors and have a best-selling book do. It was then that I realized that my story was not unique. There were many people coming forth saying to me that the same thing happened to them. That was when I realized that the book was just the beginning of what became a life mission. Out of that came the movement, the Cancer Schmancer Movement. We started with the cornerstone being early detection. Catch it on arrival, ninety-five percent survival. Let's diagnosis it while it's still in stage one. Then the more I began to learn about health, the more I realized that there are many systems working in the body. Cancer is actually the end stage of a long history of low-level inflammation. What causes inflammation, mostly, is our environment. It turns out the home is the most toxic place we spend the most time in. 

That was when the Cancer Schmancer Movement began to focus heavily on a very progressive program called Detox Your Home. We empower, educate, motivate, and activate our members to start reading labels, to start recognizing that how you live equals how you feel. There's really no wiggle room in between. It behooves you to eat organic and to use products, both personal care and cleaning and gardening products, that are either organic or ecofriendly. If it's bad for the planet, it's going to be bad for you. We are one big, interconnected living organism. We have to start looking at it that way. We put the ownness back on you to use your hard-earned dollars and purchasing powers to dictate more responsible manufacturing trends. Let's get the carcinogens and toxins out of our homes, out of our lives. Let's get out of the chemical industry and go back to using products with ingredients that may have grown in your grandma's garden. When you do that, you successfully reduce your risk of getting a whole host of diseases in your body. It's absolutely ground zero, where to begin.

Zibby: Wow. Okay, I am motivated. On your website, you had all these little cheat sheets for how to know if you're at risk for one type of cancer or another. You can go through. I started looking through. I was like, I have to stop. This is getting really depressing. [laughs] There are risk factors in everything. What you're talking about, low-level inflammation, it's so easy to eat the wrong thing sometimes. Stress is a huge trigger in inflammation, too, for so many people.

Fran: Yes. You have to know how to manage that too. You have to be your own thermostat of your body. You have to know when your body's slightly going out of whack because of interferences from the outside, whether it be aggravation that's causing you stress or being exposed to people who are sick with a cold or a flu or you have a vulnerability to it because of your genetics, which should encourage you to live more cleanly, more pristinely. Your genes have at least twenty-seven, twenty-eight different ways to express itself. If you're constantly exposing your body to carcinogens and toxins, it's not going to express itself well. It's your obligation to honor your body, to support your immune system, and to not aggravate vulnerable genes that may express itself in a direction you wouldn't want it to because you're constantly exposing your body to things that are extremely unhealthy. We all have gotten quite used to taking things that suppress our symptoms. That is the body's way of alerting you that something is wrong. You're not supposed to muzzle your body's expression. You're supposed to actually try and support your body, help your body. Do the right thing. Live cleanly and pristinely.

Zibby: Did some of this come about because you wondered what had caused your own cancer?

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