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


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. 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?

Fran: I kind of knew that I — I was told when all this was happening that I had luteal phase defect, which is something that they test women for if they get pregnant and miscarry. They don’t normally test women for it otherwise. I did have other symptoms that indicated that I had very short menstrual cycles, which was an indication that my progesterone was not kicking in when it was supposed to. Yet over the years when I went to doctors and said, “Why do I have such a short cycle? I know as soon as I start to feel better, then I start to get premenstrual again,” and they said, “Has it always been this way?” I said yes. They said, “Normal is what’s normal for you,” but that ain’t necessarily so. A lot of doctors are not good diagnosticians. They don’t dig deep enough. They don’t offer you the tests. The things you need may not even be on the menu at the doctor’s office. Doctors are bludgeoned by big business, health insurance to go the least-expensive route of diagnostic testing. Also, they have never really learned how to listen to the patient, to honor what the patient is feeling, what they’re saying, and give them the time that they need.

Now, of course, there are exceptions to that. I try desperately to find those doctors. We at Cancer Schmancer curate annually, the most wonderful, outside-of-the-box thinking doctors from all different spheres of medicine and put them into our Fran Drescher Master Class Health Summit, which I have been told from so many people is a life-changing experience. I urge people to sign onto It’s free. You’ll get some emails from me which are very informative. We’re very positive and empowering. Then you’ll learn what we’re doing and when we’re offering it, like our Master Class Health Summit, which is a fundraiser for me if you come in person. You can also watch it on — there’s a livestream. That’s offered free to the public because we’re a nonprofit. It’s wonderful. Then that program is offered for a nominal fee as a downloadable video that you can watch over and over again and share with your friends and family. It is so dense with information that every time I look at it, I realized I missed something that I hadn’t heard before. It’s really worthwhile. We also put out at Cancer Schmancer, right at the beginning of the pandemic, a COVID Care 4 You program that also is offered free that you can access at our website. We had doctors that were offering very practical tips for people.

Back then, there wasn’t a vaccine. A lot of people didn’t know what they were dealing with or who was going to get sick or who wasn’t going to get sick. The supplements that were suggested to take, now mainstream doctors are offering to their COVID patients. Back then, it was our doctors, our outside-of-the-box thinking functional medical doctors who have gone one step beyond medical school and decided to really look at how the body operates. What is causation of disease? How can we look at that? An analogous of this is, if you had a big apple tree and the apples that were growing on the tree were rotten, would you try and fix each apple, or would you look at the roots and the trunk to see what was causing this problem? Most medical doctors just try and treat the apple. They’re not really looking at how the patient lives, how the patient eats, where the patient works, what the patient is exposing him or herself to in their home, what the history is. All of these things factor into your disease. We really have to start pivoting towards that if we want to go from a nation of sick care to a nation of real health care.

Zibby: I love that. With the apple tree, at least the apples, you can see that they’re rotten right away. I think with women a lot of times, especially in this area, we accept whatever’s going on as, oh, this just must be how it is. People don’t talk about this area that much, and so it’s even harder to diagnosis.

Fran: Women are very conditioned to put their family’s needs above their own. When they recognize something is not right in what I call the whisper stage, the earliest and most curable stage, that’s also the easiest time to dismiss their symptoms and say, you know, it’s probably nothing. I have too much on my plate already, so I’ll wait. Maybe it’ll go away by itself. What we really have to say to ourselves is, something doesn’t feel right. It could be nothing, but God forbid it’s something. I want to rule it out while it’s still in the whisper stage because the best gift I can give my family is a long and healthy life. I’m useless to my family if I’m six feet under.

Zibby: Oh, my gosh, this is so useful to me right at this moment. I’ve personally been under so much stress. I keep postponing making all my doctors’ appointments.

Fran: Do it, girl.

Zibby: My doctor keeps emailing. He’s like, “You haven’t had a physical in two years,” or blah, blah, blah.

Fran: Don’t do that.

Zibby: I know. It’s so silly.

Fran: Well, it’s typical. As a woman, you have to climb out of that rabbit hole. It doesn’t behoove you. It doesn’t help anybody if you get sick. On this journey, we were sold a bill of goods as women. It’s time for us to reprogram. It’s not serving us well to be like that. Everybody just has to jump on board. When you set boundaries for yourself, everybody learns how to respect you differently because you respect yourself more.

Zibby: I like it. This is great. I think I’m just going to keep replaying this. I’ll keep it in the background on my computer.

Fran: It’s not only a women’s movement anymore. We’ve kind of opened it up to — the whole family suffers when they don’t go to the doctor or when they’re exposed to toxic processed food, industrial-farmed foods, or in the home. There’s a tremendous amount of air pollution in the home, more polluted than living across the street from an oil refinery. What do you think that’s doing to you? How do you think that’s impacting you? I don’t even sleep with my Wi-Fi on because that is the time for my body to regenerate itself. Having microwaves buzzing around my head all night is not helping me do that. I put an on/off switch next to my bed which connects to my router in the garage. At night, I turn it off. I don’t need it. I don’t want it. My smart TV in my bedroom is plugged into the Ethernet. I made sure all of this was available to me, accessible to me.

Zibby: Not that you need ideas, and maybe you’ve already done this, but you should do a show where you go into people’s houses and clean it up, clean up their lives, try to get rid of all the toxins, take out their Wi-Fi, clean their fridge, escort them to the doctor, all of that.

Fran: Absolutely. Actually, we’ve pitched that before. We thought about doing something like that. I just wonder if it would get very redundant because I’m sure as I go into different people’s homes it’s going to be the same crap over and over again. I’ll throw that out. What is this toothpaste? If your toothpaste says “do not swallow” or “call poison control,” isn’t that counterintuitive for something that you’re going to be putting in your mouth at least once a day? Come on, people. Walk away from that toothpaste. Start reading labels. Every time you finish something and need to replace it at the market, try as hard as you may to replace it with something that’s a much cleaner, organic, ecofriendly product. In the end, it’s going to really serve you and the planet well.

Zibby: Okay. All right, point taken. I hear you. I’ve adopted this. You’ve inspired me. Modern Mahjong, tell me about why you got involved with this, how people can sign up. I know all the funds are going to Cancer Schmancer. You can sign up at Why did you partner with them? Are you a huge mahjong fan?

Fran: I have a girlfriend who is very enthusiastic about playing mahjong. She was the one that encouraged me to get all my besties together here at my house on the beach. We’ll all have a causal dinner. She wanted to teach us all how to play. One time, I was playing. Rosie was my partner. We won. Somebody who was also playing took a video of it. I posted it. It went viral. The Modern Mahjong organization that’s around the world picked up on it and said, “This is so great. We need more people like Fran and Rosie to engage people into playing this fabulous and ancient game.” They said, “We would love to host a fundraiser for Cancer Schmancer.” I always perk up when people say that because, needless to say, we’re always in need of raising money so we can keep doing the good work that we do. Also, it’s important because during the pandemic, most nonprofits had a particularly difficult time. We weren’t able to do the fundraisers in person like we normally do. As many times as we did something online virtually, it’s not the same. You can’t raise the same amount of money. We were very grateful that they made this suggestion. You can go to and find out all about Fran’s Mahjong Tournament that’s hosted by Modern Mahjong. It’s going to be a lot of fun. You can gather your besties at your house and play or you can just go online and do it with strangers. It’s all there on the website explaining how to sign up. It’s a week of playing. You don’t have to play for a week, but it’s going to go on for a whole week. It’s going to be a blast. For all you mahjong players out there, please consider playing for a cause. This cause is my organization, the Cancer Schmancer Movement.

Zibby: Amazing. Thank you so much. This has been so fun. It’s a good reminder. I know you say, oh, isn’t this going to get repetitive? Somehow, even when you hear something — isn’t there something, you have to hear something eleven times before it makes a difference or something? You can hear it over and over, but there’s always that one extra time where you’re like, okay, now I’m actually going to do something about this.

Fran: As many times as I’ve said I’m a cancer survivor, there are still people that say, I didn’t know that about you. It’s like, how could you not know? For twenty-one years I’ve been talking about it. It’s true. Messaging does evade people. You probably can’t say an important message too many times. I thank you for reminding me of that. I do keep talking constantly about this. I feel like I got famous, I got cancer, and I lived to talk about it, so I’m talking.

Zibby: I love it. Thank you. Thanks for talking to me about it and to my listeners and all the people who can sign up now for Modern Mahjong and now can go back and read your book, which is fantastic.

Fran: Thank you. Thank you so much. Please call your doctor. Make that appointment. Take time for yourself. In the end, you’re not only doing yourself a service, but all of your loved ones too.

Zibby: Okay, I will. Have a great day. It was really nice to meet you.

Fran: Take care. Be well. Thank you so much.

Zibby: You too. Thank you. Buh-bye.

Fran: Bye-bye.



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