By BLAISE SCHWEITZER , Freeman staff http://www.dailyfreeman.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=18453821&BRD=1769&PAG=461&dept_id=81975&rfi=6
Cancer can be deadly and scary, but it doesn't always lead to death and need not rob a person of his or her sexuality.
Just ask "Crazy Sexy Cancer" survivor/filmmaker Kris Carr of Bearsville, the creator and star of a documentary and soon-to-be-published self-help book of the same name. "Crazy Sexy Cancer" makes a local debut with its first regional screening June 29 as part of the pre-season Woodstock Film Festival.
"People say to me, what's so sexy about cancer? What I tell them is: 'Women who have it, we're living, vibrant, crazy, sexy, struggling, normal women."
Over the last four years, while fighting relentlessly negative diagnoses of cancer that had infiltrated her liver and lungs, Carr has given up acting to become a documentary filmmaker, fallen in love, learned how to fly via trapeze, married, moved into a new home in Woodstock and created a sort of multimedia cancer-fighting franchise.
What started as a life-saving gambit turned into joyful exploration.
"In the midst of the desperation, I was starting to have fun," Carr said in the documentary.
Interviewed in the Bearsville home she shares with husband/filmmaker Brian Fasset, Carr, who is now 35, laughed at a pop-quiz on how to spell her disease.
Fifteen letters into spelling out the sub-category of her cancer, it was helpful for her to have Fasset at her side. Caught up on whether it was epithelioid hemangioendothelioma, or epithelioid hemengioendothelioma, Fassett spoke up and said "hemAn."
A vascular cancer, the disease has infiltrated Carr's lungs and liver, creating 24 tumors. While the tumors triggered by the disease are normally slow growing, the prognosis is almost always extremely dark.
Although there are some tears (and comically foul language) the film itself is mostly upbeat and full of life-embracing moments. Carr said she gained strength and perspective from other women who fought cancer with creativity and verve by specifically seeking them out.
"I couldn't help but wonder how other cancer chicks dealt with this," she said.
Some embraced the baldness that came with their treatments, others put on wigs and hats that said "FXXX Cancer."
She had a sense of humor about many of the new age treatments that were offered to complement what her Western doctors were suggesting. Sometimes she shook her head and laughed at the crystals or resonating healing tones waved in her direction, but she tried many of the methods anyway.
At the other end of the spectrum, she wondered at a cluster of smokers hanging out at a major cancer hospital.
"Helloooooo people!" she said, knocking her knuckle on her head.
She also tried the macrobiotic kale-burdock-daikon-whole-grain-steamed-bread diet. Macrobiotic diets are supposed to benefit from ingredients that digest well together.
To a point.
At a buffet that a cluster of vegetarians was oohing over, Carr waggled her eyebrows and said: "A plateful of gas!"
In her quest for health, Carr also internalized much wheatgrass juice (and not a few wheatgrass enemas.)
She also went through a raw phase, eating only uncooked ingredients, but that got old after a point. "I don't think I can put another raw thing into my stomach," she said when wavering.
By now, she has found a happy medium between all the dietary and exercise extremes.
She is still a vegan (no dairy or meat) and has hung on to the wheatgrass juice habit, squeezing and juicing clumps of the green shoots regularly.
During the interview, Fasset said they had just completed a flat of wheatgrass, and had had a breakfast including many vegetables juiced together.
When considering the cause of her cancer, she delved into possible environmental and attitudinal sources. Her spiritual exploration considered everything from what her personal guru Bhagavan Das had to say: "Stinkin' thinking is the problem," to whether she had karmically brought on the disease through inconsiderate behavior, the consumption of alcohol or the inhalation of illicit drugs.
Carr, who was starring in Budweiser Superbowl commercials the same year she was diagnosed, lived a rollicking lifestyle before settling down. From this point forward, she sees herself as more of a filmmaker and author. She described the soon-to-be published companion book to her film, which is also named "Crazy Sexy Cancer," to be "A girlfriends' guide to cancer."
To be sure their projects do no harm, Carr and Fasset said they are conscious not to put out a prescription for how every cancer patient should deal with their disease. Each case is unique and the science is nowhere near certain on most treatments, Fasset said.
Nonetheless, Fasset said he has been amazed by how viewers come away from screenings of the film feeling as if it validates whatever perspectives they come from, he said. "People hear what they want to hear, on both sides."
For his part, participating in most of Carr's regime has Fasset, who is 41, feeling less creaky. "I never get colds anymore," he said.
Beyond Carr and Fasset, there are plenty of local people and scenes in the film. One scene is filmed from the apex of Overlook Mountain (where the pair had their first date). Carr hunts for cancer-fighting books at Golden Notebook and shops for cancer-fighting vegetables at Sunfrost Farms, both in Woodstock.
The film leaves off with Carr getting a positive checkup at the doctor's office. Her cancer tumors seemed to have stopped in mid-development, according to the scans, and she becomes more optimistic than ever.
"I actually created a term myself, because most people really need to hear the word remission otherwise they can't take another breath. I call it progression-free remission," she said in the interview. "I talked to my doctor and he said, 'That's pretty smart.' It basically means it's just hanging out. It's like a light switch that's been turned off."
Carr's message goes beyond fighting cancer, she said. "I think anybody who has experienced any sort of adversity will be inspired by our attitude and how we head-butt it. That's the broader message of the film."
For more information about the film and book, visit www.crazysexycancer.com.