Queens welcomed back one of its natives in Long Island City Monday afternoon during an event aimed at keeping the local community healthy.
Actress and Kew Gardens native Fran Drescher, known for her quirky roles in television shows such as “The Nanny” in the ’90s, made a stop at the nonprofit Project Renewal’s mobile mammography clinic called the ScanVan located at the Community Healthcare Network’s LIC center.
Drescher, who is a uterine cancer survivor, founded the organization the Cancer Schmancer Movement, which aims to shift the nation’s priority from searching for a cure for cancer toward prevention and early detection of cancer.
“We’re all about prevention and early detection, which is why the ScanVan is something that we as a movement, the Cancer Schmancer Movement, supports and feels like anything that we can do to help women that are a little more underinsured or uninsured and a little more marginalized or out of touch or reach to get the capability to detect early. It’s key for survival,” Drescher said.
The organization will also host a cruise around Manhattan on Father’s Day to celebrate family health and kick off pride week, and with all proceeds going toward Cancer Schmancer.
With her organization’s mission in mind, Drescher greeted local community members and toured the mobile clinic. She also added that although she is now based out of California, Queens will always be in her heart.
“All my characters are from Queens. Queens is always very near and dear to my heart. I always write Queens as if I’m still living there and that’s what keeps it close to me and I love Queens and the people in it and it always remains very close to me,” she said.
According to Mary Solomon, director of Project Renewal’s ScanVan, Drescher stopping by allowed community members to see that cancer could affect anyone, no matter who they are, and also emphasizes the importance of detecting cancer at an early stage.
“Cancer is non-discriminatory: it attracts every race, every gender, really every age group. You can be rich, you can be poor, you can be well-known or you can be obscure. Cancer is an insidious disease that will attack just about anyone,” Solomon said. “Her celebrity lends a little credibility to what we’re doing. We’re a little odd ball, we’re doing something you generally find at a hospital center or a breast center or in a radiology office so it’s a little on the edge but we know that if we don’t reach out to women we may not get their compliance.”
The 40-foot ScanVan, which each year stops at over 200 locations throughout the five boroughs and serves thousands of residents, provides free testing to women who are homeless, low-income, uninsured, underinsured, or are faced with other sorts of healthcare barriers.
Solomon added that with partnering with local community organizations, such as Community Healthcare Network, which provides health care to a diverse population, they will be able to reach women of all demographics.
“We strive to take away all those issues so there’s really no excuse,” Solomon said.