Fran Drescher,
Cancer Schmancer
(Time Warner, 2002)

I should probably start this review by noting I am not a Fran Drescher fan. I only saw The Nanny sitcom on television a few times and I could not stand the main character's voice. As I was not familiar with Fran's other work (This Is Spinal Tap, The Beautician & the Beast and Saturday Night Fever, to name a few), I was basically neutral towards her as an entertainer. I have known for years who she is, but I've never sought out her work. I was, however, interested in this audiobook. In the past month, a friend and an acquaintance of mine have both died from different types of cancer. I thought this book might be able to put cancer into perspective for me.

I made two big mistakes when it came to pre-judging this audiobook. First, I thought the voice I heard on The Nanny was Drescher's natural voice and I was mentally prepping myself to listen to it for approximately three hours. Drescher does occasionally slip in to that distinctive nasal whine that sends shivers up my spine the same way scratching on a chalkboard with fingernails does. But, for the most part, her accent is pleasant enough during the course of this narration.

The second misconception I had was that this audiobook might give a lot of general insights for people whose lives have been affected by cancer -- either because they have cancer or a loved one does. There are a few good points Fran makes that I think everyone should take to heart. Do not necessarily take your doctor's opinion as the absolute truth. Doctor's are human and make mistakes. If you feel it is necessary to get a second opinion (or eleven opinions in Fran's case), then get it. This is your life! You should also do research. With the Internet, this is much easier now than in decades past. You need to be as informed as possible as to what is happening with your illness. Finally, while it is natural to be depressed and feel sorry for yourself, a positive attitude is a must to survive any deadly disease.

Now that I've boiled down the essence of the book, you might not need to listen to it ... unless you are a huge Fran Drescher fan, specifically have (or know someone who has) uterine cancer, or just like listening to pretty women talk very openly about their personal lives and body parts. I imagine if you like Drescher's sense of humor, you also might enjoy Cancer Schmancer.

For myself, I really did not care that Drescher had a divorce after The Nanny ended or that this relationship only held together as long as it did because the show was their baby. I did not care to hear that Drescher is dating a man 16 years her junior. Perhaps it was necessary to point out her relationships as part of her mental healing process, but did I have to hear about their sex life? Drescher also goes into quite a bit of detail as far as her various examinations. If you are squeamish at all regarding the inside of the human body or female sexual organs, skip this audiobook!

The worst part for me, however, was getting the impression that Drescher is very narcissistic. Sure, I understand that she is an actress with a huge fan base. Perhaps she is entitled to act as if the world revolves around her. And I may be wrong since I only have three hours of passive listening to believe that she has a very, very healthy ego -- to put it politely. But each time Drescher delved into her sessions with a psychiatrist, my viewpoint became stronger. It also appears that many of her negative attributes can be squarely blamed on others, either her parents or former relations. There is not much of taking ownership of one's faults here! I should, however, give Drescher credit as she at least dishes all this out with a sense of humor instead of simply whining.

In the end, I am only going to recommend this book to a select audience. If you have been through uterine cancer (or known someone close who has), this might be a good audiobook for you. I understand that it can help to know about the experiences of others who have dealt with the same illness. If you are a huge Fran Drescher fan, you'll be buying this regardless of what I say. I imagine that you will enjoy it regardless of what she says, too. But I do not feel that this audiobook has much to offer the general population. I am not saying Cancer Schmancer is poorly written or narrated. I am simply saying it is not for everyone.

[ by Wil Owen ]
Rambles: 13 July 2002

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