This week as part of our "Healthy Heroes" series we are profiling the amazing Kris Carr, New York Times bestselling author, activist and self-styled "cancer thriver".
On Valentine’s Day in 2003, aged 31, Kris was diagnosed with a very rare and incurable (yet slow-growing) Stage IV cancer (FYI - there is no Stage V). After shopping around various oncologists and a slew of treatment options (including one suggestion of a triple organ transplant), Kris settled on a doctor who suggested she "watch and wait" rather than rush into any aggressive and debilitating treatments. In the meantime, she was inspired to totally overhaul her single-girl-in New-York lifestyle and diet and embark upon a journey of self-education and deep healing. As an actress by trade, she courageously charted her progress and voyage of discovery in the frank and inspiring documentary Crazy Sexy Cancer, igniting a global wellness revolution in the process.
Having diligently studied, trialled and tested numerous alternative and functional health philosophies, Kris found a balance with a vegan lifestyle which has enabled her to celebrate her 11th year of her cancer diagnosis this year. While she is still living with her cancer, it is currently stable and she has proven that a 'terminal' diagnosis doesn't have to mean there is no hope. In her own words:
She has therefore devoted her life to becoming a passionate advocate of living consciously and consuming mindfully, all with a liberal dose of humour.
As she has learned to live with cancer, her brand has broadened to focus on living the healthiest life possible rather than solely on how to cope with a cancer diagnosis. Having experimented across the spectrum of 'alternative' therapies on her journey, she has settled on a regimen focusing on a plant-based, high-alkaline, anti-inflammatory diet with daily green juices.
Her unique style, described by the New York Times as "a mash-up of 'Eat, Pray, Love' and the expletive-laced pro-vegan “Skinny Bitch” books, frilled with easy intimacy and bedecked with hot-pink chick-to-chick flourishes", may not be for everyone, for her many fans, her humorous, upbeat brand of self-love and wellness is genuine and infectious.
Inhabiting such a controversial space, as you can imagine, KC is not without her critics, who mainly argue that her brand trivialises the severity of cancer for those battling the condition and who point out that not everyone is 'lucky' enough to have a form of cancer which can remain dormant for long periods.
Nonetheless here at The Holist HQ, we think she is a brave, courageous and hilarious woman whose passion and determination to change the narrative on cancer and terminal illness should inspire all of us to lead the healthiest lives we can. While at times her unique brand of uber- American peppy, kick-ass self-love can become a little much for us reticent Brits, it is hard to deny she inhabits an incredibly inspirational space for anyone looking to devote themselves to a healthier life, especially for anyone diagnosed with a chronic illness.
We also love her realism, she recognises that a strict vegan lifestyle can be a daunting undertaking and isn't for everyone and her site is full of useful tips for how you can make smaller changes to your lifestyle which can still make a huge difference, for example, cutting down your animal product consumption to a maximum of 2 - 3 times a week and choosing products with a certified humane seal of approval to ensure they are free of antibiotics, hormones and other nasties.
Her online community, especially her informative blog, which you can find here, is jam packed with useful advice and inspiration for anyone in pursuit of a healthy lifestyle, whether chronically or terminally ill or not. If you find that her message resonates with you and want to go a bit deeper, she has also distilled her decade of wisdom into a series of books and online programs. While some of these are cancer focused, she also focuses on optimal health more generally in books such as Crazy Sexy Diet (which she describes as her bible for a healthy lifestyle) and Crazy Sexy Kitchen (which is a more recipe-based offering). She is also a great speaker and magnetic personality so check out her You Tube channel, and her other talks online including her interview with Oprah.