WOW: Welcome Kris, we’re thrilled you decided to chat with us. I just finished reading Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips, and I have to say, your book rocks-my-socks woman! Your story is amazing, and your strength, endless... was it a hard book to write, or more of a healing process?
Kris: Thanks love! It wasn’t hard to write at all, actually it poured out like a nice cold Guiness! One of the personal growth perks about being a storyteller is that you can’t really captivate people with your tale unless you truly understand it yourself. There were times in the writing process that I would laugh out loud and then just break down and sob. It felt like I was peeling off a band-aid (with lots of hairs stuck to it) but once I did the light came in and the healing started.
WOW: (laughs) Ouch! See, that’s the thing that gets me, you always have such a fun outlook. In fact, I’ve never heard of a book out there like yours before, so positive, energizing, empowering... and I wonder if it’s because people are afraid to really talk about ‘the c word’.
For instance, one of my long-time girlfriends had breast cancer, but didn’t tell anyone about it. It wasn’t until I ran into her at an art gallery and noticed her new Sinead O’Conner hairstyle that she was forced to tell me. Honestly, I really thought she was going for that rocker-diva look, because I figured she would’ve told me. But now I understand.
One of the things you talk about in Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips is the fact that telling your friends and loved ones can be excruciatingly painful. From your experience, what is the best way to break the news?
Kris: For me, breaking the news and talking about cancer was like listening to the sound of fake nails dragging across a chalkboard. Excruciating. No matter how much I practiced or rehearsed (I have cancer, I have cancer, I have cancer) it was a total disaster! Unfortunately there’s no easy way to do it. You have to go with what feels right for you, it’s definitely an awkward time and it makes you feel like very uncomfortable, like you’re outing yourself.
Telling people does get easier over time, though. It won’t turn on the water works, yours or theirs. People will take your lead so it helps to center yourself. It helped me to know my talking points in case a well meaning guest cornered me with terminal chatter at a cocktail party. There is nothing worse than choking on shrimp as you’re trying to salvage some privacy while talking someone else off a cliff.
Another tip, and this is gonna sound really fluffy, but sometimes it helps to put on some cancer armor. Some people will try and find the cancer, they want to see it and they want you to LOOK sick. That’s why breaking the news while looking fabulous can make you feel like you’re not a sick person. An eyebrow wax, a new bag, some shoes, why not? Cancer really should come with an expense account.
“Imagine walking in a cancer patient’s shoes… I like it when folks listen and provide space and a safe container…”
WOW: It should! Makeovers always make me feel like I can conquer the world, or talk to anybody. And that’s another thing you talk about is the other side, people’s reactions.
It’s amazing, but when I was talking to my friends about how excited I was to interview you, I was surprised at how many of those faux pas they actually blurted out. What are some of the big no-nos?
Kris: Here’s a poo-poo no-no, do not call cancer patients victims. That’s a sure fire way to unleash a can of whoop ass! I hate that, it feels so disempowering. Another thing, don’t ask me how long I have to live or try and bond with me by telling me you know someone with cancer and they just died. Wow, is that supposed to bridge the gap between us or send me running to my shrink? People say they don’t know what to say. Well, it’s just common sense. Imagine walking in a cancer patient’s shoes and perhaps it will set you on course. I like it when folks listen and provide space and a safe container for me to share if I want to. What a lovely and compassionate gift. Just be present.
WOW: That’s useful advice, as are all the tips. I found Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips incredibly motivational, and I’ve already made a plan to integrate some of your tips into my daily life.
I believe every woman can benefit from reading your book—it’s all about empowering yourself by treating your body and mind well. Feeling good! Did you practice these tips (eating well, exercising, meditating) B.C. (‘Before Cancer hijacked your life’)?
Kris: Well, kinda, but I was more of a weekend warrior. I never really committed to treating myself with respect and self-nurturing. The thought balance made me bored. Wow, was I wrong! When the red phone rang with the cancer diagnosis I finally woke up to what my body and soul were saying for years. Slow down love, take a breath, mother yourself. Cancer can be very chaotic but somehow my diagnosis centered me.
WOW: I read that before you were diagnosed, you were partying like a rock star at Florida’s Sarasota Film Festival, where you premiered in a film; you were also a Super Bowl Bud girl, an icon.
Now, you’re even more of an icon! A filmmaker, novelist, and a survivor. You even say that ‘cancer is your guru’. How has your journey with cancer helped you grow as a person?
Kris: It made me go to my zero point and start from there. I went back to school to study nutrition, sold my house, dove into integrative medicine, fell in love, made new and fabulous cancer babe friends and really started living. I used cancer as a catalyst for personal revolution. Hey when the doc says you’re stage IV, there’s no treatment and no cure, it’s time to make some decisions. For me it was, grow up and show up, Toots!
“Knowing that I am putting something good into the world gives me an electric smile.”
WOW: That you did, and the journey shows in your writing; have you always been a writer?
Kris: Well yes, but only secretly. I have decades of angst-ridden journals under my bed. If you want to know what I was doing on May 4th 1989 you could look it up, but don’t tell. I was an English major in college but only as a back up plan. I was convinced I would be a HUGE star by the ripe old age of 25, and that I wouldn’t need to know anything about anything. I just had to sing, dance and pretend to be someone else well. So unfortunately, the only thing I learned in school was how to use Cliff’s notes and tatter a book to make it looked like you cracked it. My teachers would be floored that I turned out half decent and not in jail. P.S. Definitely do a spell check on my writing, I’m abysmal.
WOW: Well that’s what spell check is for—I couldn’t live without it! So while writing Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips, did you have a set writing schedule or a particular time/place you enjoyed writing?
Kris: The schedule was full of fire and fear! I had to write and direct the film at the same time as the book. In fact, their deadlines were the same week. I think we did the film in 6 months and I did the book in four, but it did take a little longer after that to tweak images etc. I shot most of the pictures as well. Basically, I bought an egg timer and would set it for 10 hours per day. After I was done I’d go to the edit room and start helping my husband Brian (who was also the producer and editor) with the cut. He was a total work horse, when I’d drift at 3 a.m., he’d let me sleep on the floor, put on his head phones and cut till the sun came up. Now that’s love.
WOW: Aw... it’s amazing when you can work with your hubby. It’s not an easy thing to do for most couples, but if you can, it strengthens the love. So what was the toughest part of writing the book?
Kris: Besides the schedule? Nothing! It was a real joy and as I mentioned early, a deep healing experience. Knowing that I am putting something good into the world gives me an electric smile.
WOW: I found myself in an electric smile, laughing out loud at times by your fabulous sense of humor. Your metaphors are spot-on. Where do you get your great sense of humor from?
Kris: From being tortured on the playground. I was so skinny the girls used to say I ran around in the shower to get wet! Meanies.
WOW: Oh yes, the playground meanies. Usually it’s because they’re just jealous!
Kris, in the book you’d said that you knew you were meant for something big in life, but just didn’t know it would be big like this. You have a rare form of cancer, EHE, which in your case is slow-moving. Do your doctors think that your health routine and positive outlook are what’s keeping it stable?
Kris: Some do, some don’t. Now I’m obviously not a doctor but I am a patient and a survivor and today I feel great, yesterday I felt great and tomorrow I plan on taking over! Since I changed my diet and lifestyle my laundry list of complaints and symptoms have disappeared, plus I’m happier so I must be doing something right. It’s possible to meet our bodies half way and lighten the load. These are challenging times so we need to do our best to make good choices. As I often tell my mom, nothing tastes as good as happy and healthy. One day at a time, one foot in front of the other.
(Photo: Brian Fassett)
WOW: And a big part of that is learning to roll with the various necessary obstacles of the process, such as insurance. There’s a section in your book called, “Cancer College,” where you talk about creating a binder for all your documents, and give some tips on medical insurance.
I recently saw the Michael Moore movie, “Sicko,” have you seen it? What surprised me was all the red tape involved with medical insurance in the states. In most other countries health care is free. Have you experienced any problems with insurance, and ever thought of moving to France?
Kris: Michael Moore’s movie made me sob! He is a genius and yes, for the first time in my life I considered moving to France for more than the red wine and baguettes and Mona Lisa. I recently got an email from someone who was turned away by both their doctor and their insurance company. Apparently they thought he wasn’t worth it any more. I find that to be utterly inhumane and unacceptable. He asked me if I could help and I just wanted him to move in with me and make it all go away. For me, it’s very helpful and important to follow an integrative approach to wellness. There is so much we can do to upgrade our lifestyles and take our health into our own hands. Doctors don’t always have all the answers and there is a certain amount of empowerment and self-reliance that comes from educating yourself and thinking outside the box. Now, I’m not
advising people to choose one or the other, I suggest working with both. I would love to see a medical system that embraces east and west and encourages doctors and practitioners to meet, have tea, share secrets and reinvent healing. Hopefully we’ll get some sanity in the White House the next time around; we deserve to live in a country that cares for and cherishes its citizens.
WOW: Here, here, I second that motion! But if that doesn’t happen, I’m considering France. But for those who need a quick fix for travel, you suggest a ‘cancercation’ – a soul-recharging getaway. Which was your favorite, and where did you go?
Kris: Well, I’m actually on one right now! My husband and I are in Monauk but we’re working so it doesn’t really count. My favorite cancercation was when I moved into a Zen Monastery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for a while. I had to crack open to find myself and process the weight of it all. The enormity of the mountains and vastness of the wide-open desert vistas made my heart swell and my jaw drop. It was the most valuable time I have ever given myself. Meditation taught me how to go to my edge, curtsy and find peace. We all need time to let the dust bunnies roll like tumble weeds. Life is too busy and then you add cancer to it and it feels insurmountable. Cancercations are ah-ha’s for the soul.
“When you know how good your body can feel it’s like a drug.”
(Book Cover Design: Lisa Cocciardi)
WOW: And besides recharging the soul, you also have tips for recharging your body by putting love into your food. I adored these sections and am hoping for an entire book dedicated to Crazy Sexy Cuisine! How did you research all the wonderful information you’ve included, and create your own system?
Kris: Trial and error! I call myself a guinea pig with certifications. Everything I advise comes from a place of knowledge and deep understanding. I can honestly say, I practice what I preach. When you know how good your body can feel it’s like a drug. I fall off the wagon from time to time but I love feeling vibrant so I try and make choices that will support my health.
WOW: Another great invention of yours is the use of a ‘cancer card’. Can you tell our readers a little bit about this, and how you’ve most recently used it?
Kris: Oh I wish I invented that one, but alas, women have been swiping that card for generations. My recent purchase was quite small actually, some hair clips and a new face soap. I was feeling blue and broke so I didn’t push it. Bankruptcy is not healing, swipe responsibly.
WOW: True... I don’t own a cancer card, but like you, I’ve purchased my fair share of cowboy hats & boots. I know you have a great love for them, but what do they represent to you?
Kris: Cowboy boots represent my fantasy life, a life of freedom on the range with a porch swing and a handsome, yet handy, cowboy at my side. They are the furthest thing from cancer and that’s why I wear them as much as possible.
“Life is a terminal condition, cancer patients are just more aware of it.”
WOW: Speaking of cowboys... I loved reading your dating stories, especially because it comes with a happy ending—your marriage to Brian!
In the beginning though, it must’ve been tough deciding whether or not you were ready to date. I mean, it’s hard enough with the everyday baggage we carry around, not to mention the closet-skeletons, and wonder how we’re going to tell our potential partners about it. How did you know you were ready?
Kris: Well, for me it was hard to hide. Brian edited the film so he saw and knew everything. So in some ways it was the best way to enter a relationship. We were honest, real and very open with each other. We considered the what-ifs and said so what? Life is a terminal condition, cancer patients are just more aware of it. Brian is my best friend, my soul mate. Cancer introduced us, for that I am eternally grateful.
WOW: It sounds like you’ve really met your Prince Charming, and that’s something people may never experience. (smiles) So, now that you’ve gotten married and completed almost every goal on your five-year plan... are you ready to go through with 2008? (Ladies, you’ll have to read Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips!)
Kris: You are naughty. Maybe, maybe not, we’ll see. I have my hands full right now. Crazy Sexy Diapers may have to wait!
WOW: So Kris, what’s next on your promotional schedule?
Kris: I’ll be on tour with the book throughout September (check out my website http://www.crazysexycancer.com for details) and will be speaking and raising money for different cancer and wellness organizations throughout 2008. I’m also getting ready to write another book and Brian and I will be launching a wellness website called crazy sexy revolution. We have big plans, Yee Haw!
WOW: That’s super! You were right when you said you had your hands full!
This has been so much fun Kris, and I feel like I know you just from reading your book, and in reading and chatting with you today, I’ve fallen in love with your spirit! I just want to say thank you for sharing your heart in Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips, and for being a true inspiration. You are a super-sexy-survivor-vixen!
Do you have any closing comments/advice for our readers?
Kris: Hug yourself right now. Wrap your arms around your body and say I love you awesome-delicious me. How’s that? Thanks for your heck-yeah praise. You are a crazy sexy super vixen too!
WOW: Kris, thank you for joining us and taking time out of your schedule to answer our questions. You’re always welcome at WOW! And I’m sure all our readers want to know how they can pick up their own copy of Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips.
Kris: Amazon, B&N, Borders and your hopefully your local store. Storm the gates, make demands, and spread the word! Let’s make a national posse! Crazy sexy cancer cowgirls need to stick together and rise.
WOW: You heard it ladies, we have a mission! And believe me, this book will knock your socks off. It’s the most inspirational book I’ve read in a very long time. Thank you so much Kris for sharing your positive message with women everywhere.
Visit Kris Carr’s Website: http://www.crazysexycancer.com/
And her blog: http://crazysexycancer.blogspot.com/
AUGUST 29 – PREMIERE of Crazy Sexy Cancer (TLC); 9:00-11:00pm (ET/PT)
September 5 – Borders Books & Music (Tyson’s Corner); 8027 Leesburg Pike; Vienna, VA; 7:30-9:00pm
September 7 – Tattered Cover; 2526 East Colfax Avenue; Denver, CO; 7:30-9:00pm
September 8 – Lecture: Cure Patient and Survivor Forum; Wyndham O’Hare; 6810 North Mannheim Road, Rosemont, IL; Time TBA
September 10 – Borders Books & Music; 125 Thousand Oaks Blvd.; Thousand Oaks, CA; 7:00-8:30pm
September 13 – Borders Books & Music; 400 Post Street; San Francisco, CA; 7:00-8:30pm
September 14 – Book Passage; 51 Tamal Vista Blvd.; Corte Madera, CA; 7:00-8:30pm
September 15 – Elephant Pharmacy; 1388 South California Blvd. @ Newell Ave.; Walnut Creek, CA; 12:00-1:30pm
September 15 – Elephant Pharmacy; 1607 Shattuck Avenue @ Cedar Street; Berkeley, CA; 3:00-4:30pm
September 16 – Elephant Pharmacy; 4470 El Camino Real (near San Antonio Road); Los Altos, CA; 1:00-2:30pm
September 17 – Barnes and Noble; 2100 North Snelling Avenue; Roseville, MN; 7:00-8:30pm
Brooklyn, New York
September 19 – Barnes and Noble; 267 7th Avenue, Park Slope (Brooklyn); 7:30-9:00pm
New Milford, CT
September 23 – Documentary Screening and Book Signing; Bank Street Theatre; 46 Bank Street, New Milford, CT; 1:00pm
September 25 – Hastings (Round Rock); 2200 S. IH35; Round Rock, TX; 7:00-8:30pm
September 26 – Lecture – National Ovarian Cancer Society; Address and Time – TBA
September 28 – Fundraising Event for Y-Me Foundation; Café Allegre; 725 Boston Post Road, Madison CT; 11:00am-1:00pm
September 29 – Autographing: NEIBA; The Rhode Island Convention Center; 2:00pm
October 12 – Documentary Screening and Book Signing: NY Open Center; 83 Spring Street, NYC; 7:00-10:00pm
October 25 - 29 – Lecture and Workshop: Planet Cancer; Alamo Draft House Village, 2700 Anderson Lane, Austin TX 78757; 6:00pm
Find out more: http://www.crazysexycancer.com