Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips

Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips by Kris Carr

April 8, 2011 Funky Sexy Cancer
Girl gets cancer. Girl is dissatisfied with diagnosis and the fact there is no known cause to cancer. Girl seeks answers. Girl reads books. Girl has awakening. Girl changes diet (becomes vegan). Girl focuses on healing journey. Girl does more yoga, meditates more, and looks to food as medecine. Girl reaches out and meets other cancer warriors. Girl turns to alternative medicine treatments. This is my story.

But then I was surfing the net and learned about Crazy Sexy Diet. I go to visit a website called Crazy, Sexy, Cancer and I learn about Kris Carr. Her journey sounds a lot like my journey. ALOT like my journey.

I stop feeling quite so original.

But then I remember TLC's album "Crazy, Sexy, Cool" released in 1994. And I realize that Kris Carr is not quite so original after all.

I chose to reprint my very first Blue Butterfly blogpost above to illustrate how similar Kris Carr's cancer survivorship journey was to my own. And in illustrating how I felt about my journey, beginning a blog, learning how it works, and then going public/worldwide with my diagnosis, I thought I was original, different, and no one else felt this way. How wrong I was! After attending the Young Adult Cancer Canada (YACC) East Retreat this year, workshops, and various support groups for young adults with cancer, I have learned instead that my cancer journey was and is very similar to many survivors as Kris Carr illustrates in Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips. When I first learned about Kris Carr, I had my (oh so wrong) preconceived notions of this Budweiser beer babe/model/actress/photographer turned health educator/advocate/cancer activist.

(I give her 'nuff respec' for completing her Health Educator certification at the Hippocrates Health Institute.) I thought it would be all fluff and no substance but boy was I wrong. (I know, I know... you can't judge a book by its cover.) I am so glad that I began reading this book after my survivorship began because now I could really understand and relate to Kris Carr's message more clearly. At age 31, Kris Carr was diagnosed with Stage IV epithelioid hemangioendothelioma (EHE), a very rare cancer with no known cause or cure and very few treatment options. Immediately, Kris began to take her diagnosis and fate in her own hands by going through a journey of self-healing. Although today, at age 39, Kris is technically not cured of cancer (she lives with "indolent" or non-progressive, stable tumors), she takes us on her journey. When I was first diagnosed and going through my surgery and treatments, I was not ready, clear-headed, or prepared to mentally absorb the sorts of cancer tips that Carr describes. I had to figure out my own "funky sexy cancer" tips, ones that worked for me and define my own journey. But I notice huge overlaps with Carr's journey and my own.

Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips is organized into eight chapters that contain almost 80 tips to go from "Cancer Babe to Cancer Cowgirl". I feel that many of the tips have already been a part of my journey such as:
Tip no. 7 Get a shrink! (A counsellor does wonders)
Tip no. 8 Telling people does get easier over time (I decided to do this through facebook and my blog)
Tip no. 12 Don't tell everyone (in some circles, this feels right to me)
Tip no. 14 Find a penpal (I found one through the thyroid cancer forum)
Tip no. 19 Seek second (and third!) opinions (I had four endocrinologists)
Tip no. 22 Create and maintain a medical binder (mine is a really thick purple file folder)
Tip no. 36 Replace the word patient with the word survivor (survivorship is in my arsenal)
Tip no. 39 Make a List of 10 Things You've Always Wanted to Do and Try Them (I made a list of survivor resolutions after I got my great news so Ima' gonna' start on them)
Tip no. 40 Awaken your artistic mojo! (mine are blogging, writing, drawing, music)
Tip no. 42 Take a cancercation (I've taken a couple-- Newfoundland, Montreal, soon New York)

Like Carr, I have also used my "cancer card", gone vegan, and "shaken my ass" (got active).

With colourful, glossy photographs, notable quotes, quirky anecdotes, and profiles and advice from her creative cancer posse, this book was much a joy to read and felt like getting good advice from your big sister or your homegirl. (According to Kris, her oncologist is her homeboy.) Carr tells you how to eat right, look good, and feel like a cancer-fighting goddess as well as other topics like dating, how to "get your freak on", and beauty tips. You too can be a hot crazy sexy cancer survivor cowgirl.

I so much appreciate a profile from the late Oni Faida Lampley, an African-American playwright, actress, and artist who shared her wisdom. Like her, I am a Black woman who has found very few "survivor" stories from women of colour. In African diasporic (African-American in Oni's case, Afri-Jamaican in my case) culture, as in others, it is still quite taboo to discuss cancer openly but I am glad that Oni talked about her search for Black "survivor role models". (For more on the cultural aspect of cancer, read Everything Changes in which one survivor discusses this subject at length.) I loved reading Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips because it reminded me of a cross-between Cosmo and Shape magazines. and cannot wait to read other books in the Crazy Sexy franchise with a dash of Sex and the City. Click here to get a taste of the Crazy Sexy Life by visiting Carr's awesome blog and website. I will be reviewing her other books as well.

Coming up next: Lotus in the Fire: The Healing Power of Zen by Jim Bedard

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