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Why Fran Drescher Says Her Cancer Diagnosis Was an 'Opportunity'

Gettyimages | Harmony Gerber
By Beca Dalimonte

Fran Drescher, best known for her role in The Nanny, was diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2000, only one year after her divorce from husband Peter Marc Jacobson was finalized.

Although Drescher and her ex-husband, who came out as gay after the divorce, are friends now she has described leaving the marriage as "walking through fire."

"I had never done anything for myself that was against the will of somebody else that I cared about," she said. "And that was part of my problem. I kind of had a backseat in my own life. I was making everybody else happy, but not really myself."

Gettyimages | Leon Bennett

When Drescher was diagnosed with uterine cancer it put her life into perspective even more. Although the diagnosis was scary, she used it as an opportunity to finally break free from her "people-pleaser" mentality.

She realized "I couldn’t do it alone."

"It opened me up to realizing that helping and supporting and advising other people, it gives you a false sense that you have your s— together," she told People. "But that’s really the distraction of it all."

She ended up gaining "a lot of clarity" about her life through therapy.

Wikimedia | https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fran_Drescher_(31298182588).jpg

Drescher told People that "turning pain into purpose pivots you back into the driver’s seat."

In addition to opening up about her cancer diagnosis, Drescher also discussed a terrifying moment in her past in which she and her friend were raped and held at gunpoint while then-husband Peter Marc Jacobson was forced to watch. Drescher was only 28 at the time, and worried over causing her parents "additional stress" when she realized she had to tell them.

"After the rape, my friends knew, but I couldn’t even call my parents and tell them," she admitted. “I had my sister tell them.”

Wikimedia | https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fran_Drescher,_dancer_against_cancer_press_conference_2010_(1).jpg

Drescher first wrote about the traumatic experience in her 1996 autobiography Enter Whining, nearly a decade after it happened.

Although the rape was not literally linked to Drescher's cancer, she believes there's a "poetic correlation" between the two.

"I really didn’t deal with my pain for many, many, many years with the rape," she said honestly. "So when you don’t do that … I mean, I ended up with a gynecological cancer. So it kind of ends up being very poetic in where the body decides to break down and create disease."

Giphy | NBC

It took Fran Drescher two years and eight doctors to finally get a diagnosis for uterine cancer, at which point she had to undergo an immediate radical hysterectomy to treat the disease.

You can now see Drescher on the NBC sitcom Indebted, a series about two young parents named Dave and Rebecca who end up having to take care of Dave's parents when they realize they've mishandled their finances and need help paying down a sizable debt. Drescher plays Dave's mother, Debbie.

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