Why Fran Drescher Says “I Live to Talk About Cancer”

The actress is so determined to spare women the agony of a cancer diagnosis that she’s started her own advocacy group and lobbies Congress for new laws. Here, her journey from cancer patient to health activist.

Gina Roberts-Grey
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Cancer Schmancer sends more than a dozen “Fran Vans” to low-income neighborhoods in Los Angeles and New York. The vans, which advertise the importance of early detection, offer free mammograms to uninsured women 40 and older. The organization also encourages people to hold “Trash Cancer” parties in their homes. Guests are encouraged to purge their homes of harmful cleaning, food and beauty products. “The best cure for cancer is to not get it in the first place,” Fran has said. “We want to prevent cancer by eliminating the causes.”

Fran recently introduced an initiative in California to mandate women’s cancer screenings at their routine exams. And today, she’s considering a run for the U.S. Senate. “I was encouraged by both sides of the party line,” she says. “It’s something I see on the horizon.” In the meantime, she’s committed to helping other women stay healthy. Her best advice for fellow cancer survivors? “Become something better than you were before, whether it is how you relate to your family or how compassionate you are as a human being. Turning pain into purpose is healing.”  

3 ways to create a healthy home
Fran also empowers people to watch over where they live. “We have control over what we bring into our home,” says Fran. She advises taking the following steps to reduce your cancer risk:

  1. Focus on fresh foods
    Canned foods may pose a health risk. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people who consumed one serving of canned food daily over the course of five days had significantly elevated levels of bisphenol-A, or BPA, a chemical that lines most food and drink cans. BPA, which is also found in plastic bottles, can mimic the body’s hormones and has been linked to a higher risk of cancer. 
  2. Go natural
    Limit your exposure to toxic ingredients in cleaning products by making your own cleaning supplies. Consider using baking soda for deodorizing and scouring bathroom tile, olive oil for polishing wood, and a combination of vinegar or lemon juice and water for disinfecting kitchens or bathrooms. When you do use cleaning products, keep the area well ventilated by opening windows and doors. Avoid using products with unhealthy ingredients
  3. Know what’s in your cosmetics
    Check out Skin Deep (ewg.org/skindeep), a cosmetics database from the Environmental Working Group (an environmental health research and advocacy group). It enables you to look up products and determine whether they contain ingredients associated with cancer. Another good source of information is cosmeticsinfo.org, which provides information about cosmetics safety.
June 2013