Close Ad

Fran Drescher's Incredible Survival Story Proves It's Never Too Late To Find Purpose
Fran Drescher
(Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images)

Fran Drescher's Incredible Survival Story Proves It's Never Too Late To Find Purpose

Most widely known for her iconic role in the 90s sitcom The Nanny, Fran Drescher has made millions laugh with her easygoing manner and her particular voice. Behind her seemingly indestructible good humor, Fran harbors a past heavy with trauma and survival.

Many of us tend to think of celebrities as untouchable stars who have everything in life handed to them on a silver platter. They live in luxury, they don’t have to worry about commonplace problems, and if something does bother them internally, they can probably resolve that with enormous amounts of money.

While it’s true that money plays a huge part in how we are able to provide care to our most basic of needs, we must not forget that celebrities, as successful and fortunate as they may be, have also led difficult, oftentimes traumatic lives to get to where they are. 

Take Fran Drescher for example. If you remember watching television during the nineties, you’d instantly recall her. And if you can’t recall her face, you’ll certainly be able to recall her magnificent and striking voice.

As the star of the hit television show The Nanny, Fran Drescher impressed the crowds watching at home with her winning charm and a thick, nasally voice that’s one for the history books. Her coarse voice and her tough, street-smart New York-oriented persona made her one of the most memorable characters from the nineties, both on and off the screen. 

Since the show wrapped up in 1999, the actress has kept busy by working in a number of movies and television series over the years. Yet The Nanny role is always going to be the selling point when it comes to the fans. In fact, Fran Drescher and the rest of the cast are coming together to perform a virtual table read of the pilot episode, set to be released on April 6. 

So before you dive back into nostalgic heaven through this table read, you should know that Fran Drescher’s life was filled with as many challenges and traumas as it was filled with moments of fame, worldwide success and intense admiration. But as humans often do, she moved forward and healed in extraordinary ways. 

She was robbed and raped at gunpoint

Back in the mid-eighties, Fran and her former husband Peter Marc Jacobson were subjected to a brutal home invasion at their Los Angeles apartment. They were having dinner with a female friend of theirs when two men broke into their home. One man proceeded to ransack their house while the other raped Fran and her female friend. Peter was attacked, tied up and forced to witness this horrific ordeal. 

Such a traumatic and chilling experience shakes an individual to the core. And the same happened for Fran— the actress didn’t go public with this incident until over eleven years later in 1996.

Fran revealed that prior to that terrifying attack, she had heard a detective in a talk show speak about the difficulty in catching rapists and bringing them to justice, as the trauma that victims endure makes it difficult for them to recall their attacker's features.

While she was being assaulted, Fran remembered those words so she made sure to memorize her attacker's face. Having a photographic memory, she was able to describe it so precisely to the police sketch artist that it looked like the attacker had posed for it. This is what led to his arrest.

Survivors should be able to take as much time as needed to come to terms with their trauma and begin a process of healing and understanding. But Fran revealed that she didn’t want to come off as weak at the time, so she basically just sucked it up, buried the incident and got on with her life. 

I didn’t really get into my feelings or my vulnerabilities. I never wanted to come off as ‘weak,’ so I just kind of buried it and got on with life.

Fran Drescher to InStyle

Some six years later, she and Peter developed The Nanny, which instantly launched Fran into the public eye. But she still remained silent on her past, because she was focused on working hard and “making everybody else happy,”, as she told InStyle

In 1996, Fran chose to open up about it for the first time in a chapter of her memoir Enter Whining. She’d reasoned that because she was now famous, she’d able to resonate with other survivors of sexual assault. The reception was stunning; the number of men and women that were moved by her story of survival, trauma and recovery was telling. Fran wanted to inspire other survivors and offer them hope — it is possible to move on. 

The trauma may very well become a part of you but it’s a part of you that’s survived and fought through the harshest of circumstances to make it back to the other side. It’s a stubborn force in you that refuses to fade away from your memories but you’ve got to accept that part of you and find ways to grow and evolve as a result. 

To feel your pain, then try and pick up the pieces and put yourself back up together. You’ll never be the same, but whatever that is, then forge forward with that. Turn your pain into purpose, which is what I always do

Fran Drescher to News AU

Her diagnosis of uterine cancer changed her life altogether

Shortly after The Nanny ended in 1999, Fran was diagnosed with uterine cancer. She had been having symptoms for over two years and the doctors had initially misdiagnosed her with a perimenopausal condition that she didn’t have. So instead of getting the proper biopsies to detect her disease, she was put under four different hormone replacement therapies that were not necessary at all. 

It took her over two years to get an accurate diagnosis of the disease. Thankfully for her, she was able to undergo a critical hysterectomy following her disease and recovered from the disease shortly after. But as you may have predicted, this cancer diagnosis completely changed Fran’s perspective on life. 

At that point I realized that I had to lose my Superwoman complex. I told myself, 'You’re not Superwoman. You walk on the ground with everyone else. You’re just a person, and you’ve got cancer. So start feeling your feelings.' I believe that everything that comes at us presents an opportunity to become a more refined version of ourselves. 

Fran Drescher in InStyle

As it is known to happen, cancer makes you reflect on your place in the world and reminds that your body is a temporary, vulnerable object at the end of the day. Fran attributes the development of her cancer to the pain that took shape in her body as a result of her sexual assault. Since she refused to deal with both the physical and emotional repercussions of her rape, the pain from her rape “lodged itself in [her] uterus”, she said. 

She realized that speaking up was essential to her purpose 

But instead of chastising herself for not dealing with her feelings when she should have, she moved forward with purpose. If she thought she'd taken too long to speak out about her sexual assault, she certainly wasn’t going to waste a minute with respect to cancer awareness and women’s health issues. 

Two years after her surgery, Fran wrote and published a book named Cancer Schmancer, which laid out her extensive experiences in going through the diagnosis, the treatment and the recovery of her disease. It’s no small deal to be able to recount and share openly how you suffered through some of the most difficult processes of your life but at the end of the day, Fran wanted to inform and educate other women on how they could be taking charge of their bodies, both spiritually and medically. 

In 2007, she also launched a non-profit organization titled the Cancer Schmancer Movement, which also seeks to spread awareness about women’s health. The mission of the organization is to ensure that all women are diagnosed while in Stage 1, just as she was. But Fran didn’t just stop there; this had become her life’s motto and to date, she does everything she can to raise awareness and help pass bills that empower women in terms of their health. 

For anyone that’s going through anything — and no one leaves this planet unscathed, one of these days life’s going to bite you on the butt — just remember after you kick and scream and cry, ‘Why me lord,’ if you turn your pain into purpose, it is really healing. It somehow makes sense out the senseless

Fran Drescher to People

Healing comes from within 

In Fran’s case, it took her decades to realize and apply her specific healing approach. In terms of her sexual assault, she chose not to deal with it immediately and lived to regret it. Sexual assault is a complex, incomparable experience that leads each individual to go about it in their own way that’s in line with their mental and physical wellbeing. Fran chose to sidestep the trauma and work hard in her career and her relationships; it may have worked for a while but she had to address her past eventually in order to move forward. 

But as Fran realized from her cancer diagnosis, she could connect to such a larger community of women if she chose to use her platform for doing good and opening up about her emotions and experiences. And that’s precisely what’s been helping her heal, connect, and grow despite the curveballs life’s thrown her way. 

You can never predict how your life is going to go or what kind of unexpected, oftentimes tragic and trying obstacles you may have to face. It’s all up in the air, and it will always take you by surprise. But what you can do is control your reaction.

You can find silver linings in the direst of circumstances and change your life for the better. Changing one’s life is different for every other individual out there, but one thing’s for sure: it’s never too late, and you can keep trying over and over again. 

More inspiring stories of survival:

Hot Stories

Beyonce and Jay-Z dressed up on the red carpet
Beyonce and Jay-Z
KMazur / Getty Images | Mike Coppola/ Getty Images

Ever wondered how power couple, Beyoncé and Jay-Z keep their love alive for 16 years? Hint: luck has nothing to do with it. If you've been blaming your failed relationships on "the wrong person"—think again. It may be time to reconsider who is really at fault.

Keep ReadingShow less
How Jennifer Aniston Saved Reese Witherspoon
How Did Jennifer Aniston Help Reese Witherspoon Face Her Past

Reese Witherspoon, portraying a flawless life alongside actor Ryan Phillippe, concealed a troubling secret for years. However, Jennifer Aniston played a pivotal role in unveiling this hidden truth, shedding light on Witherspoon's undisclosed struggles.