Jun 13, 2007
||Tribute (for the living)|
||, United States|
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.
Feb 16, 2006
The Raw and Sexy Food Movement
For decades the American culinary scene only recognized two types of raw food consumers. The first was a thick-skinned meat lover who would roll up his checkered sleeves and order a bloody steak fit for vampires, and the second was a sweet-toothed baker who would whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough, only to lick the bowl clean before the oven had finished pre-heating.
Only in the past ten years has a structured raw food diet (vegetables and nuts, not beef and baked goods) cropped up in public consciousness and mainstream press, with celebrities like Woody Harrelson and Alicia Silverstone touting their lean-and-green regimes.
Raw food is the latest diet craze in the evolutionary progression stretching from vegetarian to vegan, from organic to macrobiotic. The raw food community, however, heartily rejects the “fad diet” label. Turning to history for legitimization, raw food boasts a lineage that reaches back tens of thousands of years, to a pre-Promethean era when humans foraged for vegetables, fruits, and nuts.
In essence, today’s raw food diet has not strayed far from that of our cave-dwelling forefathers. Though the rules sometimes vary, the Living and Raw Foods Web site (www.living-foods.com) prescribes a plant-based diet that is uncooked, unprocessed (that is, unless it involves a Cuisinart), and organic. Most important of these, as the diet’s name suggests, is ‘uncooked’: no food or liquid should be heated over a certain temperature that ranges from 106 degrees to 118 degrees.
The first question to arise is, what’s left to eat? For raw foodists the ‘edible’ list includes a smattering of fruits, vegetables, nuts, sprouts, and seeds. Monounsaturated fats are found in avocado, young coconut, and olive and flax oils, while the necessary protein and minerals come from dark leafy greens, nuts, and seeds. Conspicuously absent, however, are so many of the staple foods that have spawned die-hard vegetarian love affairs, including tofu, brown rice, and soy milk.
Why the ban on the pan? Raw foodists claim that conventional cooking alters the molecular structure of food, which in turn destroys vital enzymes and “renders it toxic,” according to living-foods.com. Raw or “living” foods are reputed to have higher nutrient values than their sautéed, steamed, and fried counterparts. In sum, the diet promises to give its adherents more energy, lighter dispositions, and fewer health complications. The medical community has yet to concur with these claims.
For a few zealous raw foodists, personal health and well-being does not seem to be enough. In these more strident circles, the call is either to elevate the unenlightened savages or to dominate them. Living-foods.com insists that it should be the “goal of all vegetarians, vegans and SAD (Standard American Diet) eaters to eat raw.” Interestingly enough, the website then claims, “this type of diet even gives you a ‘competitive edge’ over people that eat life-less food.” If such is the case, New York could not find a better diet: lose weight and gain power, all in one stroke. One envisions a city where corporate lawyers joust with carrot sticks, where undernourished subway riders slide two at a time through the turnstile, and where all 168 of Manhattan’s Starbucks locations have morphed into wheat grass bars whipping up kelp-accinos topped with cashew crème.
Clearly New York life is far from being nasty, brutish, and 100 percent raw. Still, the raw food movement has been growing steadily over the past few years. What once began as a trickling of isolated culinary outposts in the 1970s and 1980s has blossomed into recognizable, albeit small, sector of the dining world. Over a dozen New York establishments cater to this particular diet, enabling raw foodists to venture outside their potluck supper clubs and back into restaurants.
Of these, two stand out as the most palatable: Quintessence, which opened in 1999, and Pure Food and Wine, which joined the raw foodie fray just two years ago. Inside both kitchens deft experimentation and culinary ingenuity has brought style to the plain old sprout.
Perhaps one day the raw food movement will nestle into a niche in society, free from “fad diet” claims and bothersome quotation marks. Until that time, New York’s raw foodists will hungrily pulverize nuts into “cheese” at home, chat with friends made at the New York City Raw Food Meet-up Group, and bask in their newfound energy and enlightened dispositions. As for me, an espresso and a bowl of Max Soha lamb ragù will do just fine.
Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of Care2.com or its affiliates.
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