The Best Defense against Disease
Is you! The best advocate for your health and well-being you will ever have is yourself. Actress and women’s health activist Fran Drescher joins The Doctors as the show’s honorary 5th chair and shines a light on gynecological cancers.
“What we don’t know is killing us. If we recognize the earliest warning whispers, and know what tests are available, then we can become better partners with our physicians,” she explains.
Fran’s uterine cancer went undiagnosed for two years. Eight doctors and several misdiagnoses later, she discovered the cancer and began treatment.
The mortality rate of uterine cancer is on the rise, but early detection is the key to survival.
“I was diagnosed as peri-menopausal,” the actress explains. “A lot of the symptoms of uterine cancer mimic peri-menopause, and they thought I was too young and too thin to have uterine cancer.”
Fran adds that symptoms of ovarian cancer are often misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). “Eighty percent of ovarian cancer is diagnosed in the late stages, and 70 percent of those cases will die,” she states.
Cancer-free for eight years, Fran turned her experience into motivation and founded Cancer Schmancer, an organization dedicated to ensuring that all women with cancer are diagnosed in stage 1, when it is most curable.
“If you are diagnosed with cancer in stage 1,” Fran explains, “You have a 100 percent chance of making your five-year survival mark. If you are diagnosed in stage 4, your survival rate drops to 20 percent.”
“Cancer Schmancer means cancer is not the boss of me” Fran says with a smile. “We’re trying to change people’s thinking about ignoring these early warning whispers, particularly women, who still subscribe to this Victorian sensibility that ‘if I can grin and bear it, I must do so, because my family comes first’. But when you put your family first, you’re really putting them last, because you are useless to them if you’re six feet under.”
“When women empower themselves with knowledge, we are unstoppable,” Fran concludes.
Johanna's Law authorized the development of a national gynecologic cancer awareness campaign, which was dedicated to educating women about the early detection of gynecologic cancers. The law was named in honor of Johanna Silver Gordon, sister of Sheryl Silver, Founder and President of Johanna’s Law Alliance for Women’s Cancer Awareness.
Former President George W. Bush signed the legislation into law on January 12, 2007, and Fran was instrumental in its passage. She advocated that women and healthcare providers must understand and recognize the early warning signs of all gynecologic cancers, as well as which tests are available to diagnose them.
Fran adds, “Nowadays, we have to go into the doctor’s office armed with information. We put more energy into the buying, selling and repairing of our automobiles than we do into our own bodies.”
Read more about Johanna’s Law.
U.S. Diplomat for Women’s Health
Her tireless efforts earned Fran the mantle of U.S. Diplomat as Public Diplomacy Envoy for Women’s Health, and she circles the globe to educate women world-wide.
“The commonality of women’s issues unite us over and above any political or religious differences,” Fran explains. “We have to lock elbows and force the 21st century into more female-friendly societies.”
Warning Signs of Gynecological Cancers
Risk Factors and Warning Signs of Women’s Cancers
Dr. Lisa explains that unlike a pap smear, a transvaginal ultrasound procedure allows doctors to see inside the uterus and ovaries, and check for fibroids, cysts and other abnormalities. “It gives us eyes on the pelvic exam,” she adds.
The ideal candidate for the procedure is a woman with a history of uterine or ovarian cancer, but Fran urges women to demand the procedure as a supplement to their annual pap smear.
Dr. Lisa performs a transvaginal ultrasound on Kristen.
Celebrity trainer Tracy Effinger brings a vibration machine from FBE Spa in Los Angeles, California. Fran and Dr. Jim jump on the equipment as Tracy explains that a 10-minute session has the same benefits as an hour on the treadmill.
The vibrations are purported to:
• Cause the body’s muscles to contract, just as exercise does
• Stimulate blood circulation
• Improve strength and performance
• Increase bone density
Fran and Dr. Jim report they can feel the machine working, and Dr. Jim notes that although it’s not a replacement for exercise, the vibration machine is a good way to mix up any workout routine.
The economic downturn has spread to the bedroom as people report experiencing a sexual recession in their relationships. Studies reflect that additional stress caused by financial hardships tends to strain relationships and deplete passion, and the experts agree that money is the number one cause of stress in relationships.
“You never, ever cut out sex!” Fran grins. “Laughter and sex, that’s all you need!”
The Japanese have come up with a new way to deal with stress: smashing dishes! Fran and The Doctors test out the new therapy enthusiastically. Fran exclaims, “The Greeks have been doing it for centuries!”