Actress Fran Drescher buried her pain after being raped at gunpoint during a 1985 home invasion, and after years of living in denial about the brutal incident, she was diagnosed with uterine cancer.
“It was strange — and kind of poetic — that my reproductive organs, of all things, had cancer,” The Nanny star, 62, wrote in an essay for InStyle. “But it was also an amazing affirmation that pain finds its way to exactly the right place in the body if you don't deal with it. Since I hadn't been paying attention to my own vulnerabilities, my pain from the rape lodged itself in my uterus. No one else around me had cancer. That was a rude awakening.”
She was diagnosed with cancer in 2000, and it was at that point that she realized she had ignored her pain about the rape for far too long.
Speaking of the horrific attack, Drescher told CNN she was in her Los Angeles home with her then-husband, Peter Jacobson, and her girlfriend, when two men broke in, stole her possessions and raped both her and her friend at gunpoint. The criminals also attacked Jacobson, tied him up and forced him to watch the rape.
“We had been victims of a violent crime one night, him, me and my girlfriend and it was a very ill-fated night,” Drescher recalled. “We were held at gunpoint by a man we didn't know along with his brother. He was on parole. He had been incarcerated and then he was let go and went on the rampage,”
Due to her photographic memory, Drescher was able to help police with their artist sketch. “I knew what he looked like and based off of that they were able to apprehend them,” Drescher explained.
Knowing that her rapist was jailed for life gave her some sense of relief.
“I at least have the closure which a lot of woman sadly do not have, but I do. He is locked away now for good and will never do that again - and I don't have to worry about seeing him every time I turn a corner,” the actress said.
Drescher told InStyle that for the next 15 years she focused on her career and on “working extra hard, making everybody else happy and being a caregiver.”
“I never wanted to come off as 'weak,' so I just kind of buried it and got on with life,” she said. “I was busy with The Nanny, and I lived in the oxygen-thin air of other people saying how hard I worked and how nice I was.”
But when she was diagnosed with cancer everything changed, and she realized her body was sending her a sign that she had hid from her pain for too long.
“Don't ignore something and hope it goes away or drive yourself into an early grave because you feel like you have too much stuff to do for everyone else,” she said, looking back. “That is a pitfall women often experience. I'm here to say, ‘Stop that!’”