As an actress in New York City, Kris Carr was used to being in front of the camera. That's why, when diagnosed with a rare cancer at age 31, she didn't crawl under the covers and idly wait for doctors to determine her treatment.
Carr, now 35, seized the day and opted to make a documentary about her search for alternative ways to deal with the disease. Her film, "Crazy Sexy Cancer," blends humor, daring, and candor in a guide for taking charge of your own well-being, even when the odds are stacked sky-high against you.
Why did you decide to film your battle against cancer?
I don't call it a battle, because I don't see myself as fighting cancer. I'm growing because of it. I started filming my "adventure story" to save myself from fear and despair. Approaching things creatively inspired me to take an active role in my life instead of ceding all control to my doctors.
How did working on the film change your experience with the disease?
For the first time, I was able to see my weaknesses, my strengths, and my walls. It helped me steer my journey rather than just go along for the ride.
What has that journey taught you about taking care to yourself?
Cancer made me create an "owner's manual" for myself that I now live by every day. I call cancer "my guru" because it prompted me to make the radical changes necessary to preserve my health and my future. That includes completely changing my diet to one focused on vegan and raw foods, and cultivating a regular meditation practice. Taking care of yourself is crucial whether you have cancer or not. But everyone waits for the big wake-up call. I've learned that if you are going to wait around for someone else to take care of you, you may as well pack your bags.
What do you want moviegoers to walk away with after watching your story?
My biggest hope is that people will be inspired to become participants in their own healing -- that they'll begin to see that what they eat, drink, think, and do can bring them down or help them fly. Everyone is dealing with something. Your "cancer" could be depression, low self-esteem, or abuse. No one gets a free pass. I want people to see that any illness can be a catalyst for personal revolution, if you let it.