After surviving cancer 17 years ago, actress Fran Drescher found her “life’s mission.” She set up the Cancer Schmancer Movement to promote proactive health care and toxin-free living. “Turning pain into purpose is extremely healing,” she says.
“Senior Planet” caught up “The Nanny” star as she helped launch Healthline’s “State of Cancer” study, exploring how Baby Boomers use the internet and patient support groups to make treatment decisions.
Fran says she insisted on listening to her body’s “subtle whispers” after being constantly told she was “too young and too thin” to have uterine cancer. Finally diagnosed, aged just 43, she found herself a posse of fellow patients, then started investigating healthy living.
Here the Queens, New York, native reveals her attempts to persuade her parents to eat organic food, her 60th birthday bucket list and a strange encounter with future president Donald Trump.
Senior Planet: You had a run-in with Donald Trump on “The Nanny?”
Fran: We liked to invite our friends from New York onto the show and Trump was one of those many people. I was supposed to say, ‘All you millionaires are alike’ but we got a note from his people saying, ‘Mr Trump is not a millionaire, he’s a billionaire and would like to have the line changed.’ My now gay ex husband (“The Nanny” co-creator Peter Marc Jacobson) framed it. I didn’t want to say billionaire, it didn’t sound right, so I asked if it was ok to say ‘You zillionaires are all alike’ and he was fine with that.
Senior Planet: Do your parents follow your healthy living advice?
Fran: My mom is going to be 84 in April and my dad just turned 88. They are still madly in love after 63 years of marriage and it’s really quite wonderful. They are not too diligent when it comes to eating organic. When I visit I say don’t shop, I will go and buy what you like. Their cleaning stuff is a different matter. I live more with the indigenous people who are more connected to their health and more respectful of the natural world.
I remember the health implications of getting my cancer diagnosis. When you are misdiagnosed it chips away at you. My mission now is to look at other ways, not necessarily driven by big business. Causation of cancer is something widely ignored in Western medicine. A chronic condition is likely caused by the environment, maybe five percent is genetic. But even genes can be turned off and on by lifestyle.
Senior Planet: What do you say to young people sitting indoors on their phones?
Fran: I’m sure it’s not easy for kids on computers, it’s like a religion to them. I’m not saying you can’t go online, just you can’t be on your computer 24/7. You have to go out in the fresh air. Research says that kids are not going to live as long as we do now and we have to change that for their own health and survival. People have to start shouting from the rooftops. We need GMO foods because there is going to be a big population boom? Like, really, who said that?
Senior Planet: What does ageing with attitude mean to you?
Fran: I just turned 60, that was a little bit chilling. You can’t deny it, you can feel it. I’m not afraid to say I went out last night and I am going out tomorrow night, so I am staying in tonight. I used to eat out all the time, now I would rather have people come over and I will cook. I went to Italy for Thanksgiving because on my bucket list I want to live in a foreign country. It was only for one week, just me and my dog in a walk-up apartment.
It’s a license to do what you want to do. I saw an interview with Paul Newman’s wife Joanne Woodward where she said she realized she was never going to learn French. It struck me, was I ever going to raise a baby elephant or live in Italy?
For more information on Healthline’s “State of Cancer” study go to www.Healthline.com