How one woman turned a cancer diagnosis into a healthier lifestyle

When Kris Carr was 31, she was diagnosed with epithelioid hemangioendothelioma, a rare cancer, with no options for surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or a cure.

When Kris Carr was 31, she was diagnosed with epithelioid hemangioendothelioma, a rare cancer, with no options for surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or a cure. Since receiving that diagnosis in 2003, Carr has started a new career as a motivational speaker and wellness coach, starred in the TLC documentary Crazy Sexy Cancer, founded the online magazine Crazy Sexy Life, gotten married and published three books — including her newest, Crazy Sexy Diet. You have to admire her chutzpah.

Carr’s nutritional advice is not for the uncommitted: she advocates a vegan diet heavy on veggies and raw foods, including fresh juices and smoothies, with processed foods given the boot. That said, she’s also willing to meet people at their personal starting point, with advice on how to add some extra healthfulness to any diet, including those that include meat and dairy. Her 21-day cleansing plan is strict but based around whole foods and self-awareness, avoiding the supplements and laxatives that other plans employ.

Carr’s greatest strength as a writer and motivator is her ability to tell it like it is, whether it comes to discussing her cancer diagnosis or giving the bare details about colonics. When reading about constipation and giving up French bread, a little wit is appreciated. And at the end of the day, it’s kind of tough to argue with the woman who’s surviving cancer.

Carr shared her thoughts on living with cancer, changing your diet and slowing down:

Q: The lifestyle changes you detail in Crazy Sexy Diet are pretty intense — how quickly after your diagnosis did you make them? Do you think it’s better to ease in slowly or go cold turkey?

A: Since I was doing the tango with a disease that had no cure or treatment, I jumped in cold tofurkey. Food was my medicine and I wanted health and longevity stat. But there’s no right or wrong way to approach these changes. It just depends on what type of guy or gal you are. If you’re a Type A, full-tilt boogie kind of person, you’ll probably be most successful by moving full speed ahead. If you do better dipping your toe in the water first, then lean into the changes. Bottom line: do something! And remember, this lifestyle isn’t intense or radical. The Standard American Diet (SAD), removing organs, having bypass surgery, inserting stomach bands, and taking cholesterol meds are radical.

Q: Did you have any concerns about using the word “diet” in the title of your newest book? It’s more of a lifestyle plan, but the word can mean different things to different people.

A: At first it was called Crazy Sexy You, which encompasses the overall focus of the book. But at the end of the day, we used the word “diet” because I wanted the book to reach as many people as possible. The final title placed Crazy Sexy Diet on the shelves where the most people would find it. More readers equals more prevention, health, and happiness! Plus, we wanted to make sure that people understood that the foundation of the lifestyle is the food you eat. I don’t see the word “diet” as a negative. I believe a diet is about what you consume and in my world, that’s not about deprivation.

Q: If you could get someone to make just one change in their diet or habits in order to be healthier, what would it be?

A: Juicing! Fresh green juice flushes your bloodstream with a quick blast of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, oxygen, and antioxidants. This super drink alkalizes your body and sharpens your mind. If you can’t afford a juicer, do green smoothies. Most importantly, make sure that the ingredients are clean and green. Stay on track with a 3:1 ratio of green veggies to fruits.

Q: Is there something you often hear from people you work with, or those that have read your book, about why they want to make a lifestyle change?

A: People come to me when they’re up against the ropes. They might be depressed, obese, facing a terminal illness or health challenge. A lot times it’s a combination of these things and other energy-sucking hurdles. They discover a chick thriving, happy, and living in harmony with a so called terminal diagnosis and wonder what this Crazy Sexy Diet and Lifestyle could do for them. They start to ask, “If Kris can do it, why can’t I?”

Q: What was the most difficult part about making such a big lifestyle change? What was the easiest? Are there still difficulties, now that you’ve been living this way for years and have seen the benefits?

A: The biggest challenge is changing your mind. Change your mind about it being “intense” and “difficult” and the rest is a snap. As I mentioned earlier, this is not a radical or difficult way of life. Once you get started and decide that you want energy and long-lasting health, the diet and lifestyle will be a joy, not a drag.

Q: What’s up next for you?

A: I’m taking my own advice and taking time to nurture my self, relationships and environment. It’s time to slow down! My husband and I just bought a farm and we’re renovating it so that we can have more people, rescue animals, and veggies in our lives.

Check out a healthy recipe for a greens-based soup from Carr’s book Crazy Sexy Diet.