26 March 2009

Why I love Fran Drescher

Tonight Fran Drescher walked onto Minneapolis’ Orchestra Hall stage hailing a Miss America wave. She stepped up to the podium & graciously smiled, then said in her famous Queens, NY accent, “What a warm Minnesota welcome! Thank you for coming out in the snow; I am so flattered!” Immediate laughter and the ice was broken.

Within moments of tonight’s Smart Talk’s Connected Conversation this once “chubby girl from Queens” effortlessly evoked the feeling of dishing with an old friend over coffee. And like the good friend that I am, everything good that happened to her I was excited about and everything challenging I took to heart.

I rooted for her and felt proud of her as she told the story of how her revered show, “The Nanny” came to be and the tribulations and triumphs that came with it. I was disgusted on her behalf as she spoke of the 2 years of 8 doctors and misdiagnosis she endured before finally learning she had Uterine Cancer. The subsequent hysterectomy & recovery made my heart ache for her. But her perseverance inspired me.

Fran Drescher recovered from uterine cancer motivated to change women’s health policies and that is just what she has done. Marching up and down Washington D.C.’s Capitol Hill for women’s health, she seized every opportunity to network with people she knew and talking about the necessity for stronger women’s health initiatives. Her work paid off; by unanimous vote in 2005 The Gynecological Cancer Education and Awareness Act passed and was signed into law.

But she didn't stop there. She founded the organization, Cancer Schmancer to help educate women on the prevention and early detection of cancer. The organization is named after her book "Cancer Schmancer" (released in 2003) in which she shares her experience with Uterine Cancer and subsequent recovery. On the website for Cancer Schmancer there are links to advice for Cancer prevention, early detection signs, and diagnosis and treatment. With this site, Fran Drescher created a fantastic place where women can go and find straight forward information about a deadly disease that very few people talk about candidly.

All of her stories, no matter how dire the situation had not only a punch line, but a silver lining as well. She really advocated for us, her audience, to “invest in every opportunity” and to see every event, good or bad, as an opportunity to invest in. She also advised us to be proactive when it comes to our health: Don’t be infantile, write down questions to ask, and bring a strong support person with you. I appreciated that & took with me so much because of it.

When the evening came to a close, I stood with great enthusiasm, clapped and even let out a hoot. I felt so much gratitude for all the work Fran Drescher has done on behalf of women. Also, I had learned so much and suddenly had so much to do. I was inspired to make things greater for my community and myself, and to invest in every opportunity that comes my way.

2009 is the 13th season of Smart Talk and I am looking forward to Phylicia Rashad on Tuesday, April 21st at 7:30pm, and Diane Keaton on Thursday, May 21st at 7:30pm. Both events are at Orchestra Hall and tickets are still available. You can learn how to buy tickets here.


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