Kris Carr is not the kind of person who gets cancer. Old people get cancer. Sickly people get cancer. Even your family members get cancer. It is not unlikely that you, at some point, will get cancer.
But that Kris Carr could have an abdomen full of tumors seems impossible. She is that blend of quirky and charismatic that seems untouchable, with her omnipresent peacock earrings, a quick smile and a habit of dancing when at a loss for words. And yet, on Feb. 14, 2003, at 31 years old, the aspiring NYC actress was diagnosed with stage 4 terminal vascular cancer.
On the same day, after writing herself a Valentine's Day love-note, she began filming Crazy Sexy Cancer, a four-year video journal of her fuck-you approach to the disease doctors told her was incurable.
Things started to change when she explored less traditional treatment options. Although the clown reiki she encountered at an alternative health fair didn't seem to be a fit, Carr found relief in a variety of macrobiotic and raw foods approaches. Once Whole Foods became her pharmacy and kale took over her fridge, her tumors, at least according to some tests, slowed in growth.
While overwhelmingly positive, Carr has her moments. She cries over a Nalgene full of murky green liquid lunch and at one point breaks down, screaming, "I've got issues. I've got tumors. I've got 24 fucking little issues."
Ultimately, Crazy Sexy Cancer is more about crazy sexy life. True, Carr is living with a body full of cancer, but she is very much living. She fell in love with her cameraman and married him in a beautiful backless gown; she returned to her childhood home to play on her old swing; she learned some trapeze moves. People like Kris Carr get cancer, apparently, but it doesn't become their life.
Before Saturday's screening, local natural foods chef Christine Pirello will prepare a vegan lunch and share her own experience with cancer. At 26, she was diagnosed with untreatable leukemia and packed her bags for Tuscany to die peacefully. When a friend suggested trying a macrobiotic diet, the self-described "junk food vegetarian" didn't have much to lose. "They weren't offering a lot of hope, so I thought, 'I may as well keep my hair,'" she says.
In addition to celebrating being cancer-free for 25 years, Pirello is also getting ready for the release of her new cookbook, This Crazy Vegan Life, in which she "comes out" as a vegan.
While passionately convinced that her animal-product-free lifestyle is responsible for her complete recovery, Pirello hopes Saturday's talk will encourage everyone to find a diet that works for them — for both preventive health reasons and the nurturing communal experience. "Since we stopped eating food appropriate to humans together, we've lost a lot of our grace," she says. "Mother Nature was brilliant — she made this easy. She made food so sexy."
Sat., Nov. 15, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., $35, Painted Bride.