EDITOR'S NOTE: On Valentine's Day 2003, 31-year-old Kris Carr learned she had a rare, incurable stage IV cancer in her liver and lungs. The actress and model, best known as a "Bud Girl" in Superbowl commercials, went on the attack. The result led to a documentary about her battle on The Learning Channel and an "advice from the trenches" book she wrote titled Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips. Here are excerpts from Chapter 4 of her book, Part 4 of a 10-part series:
CHAPTER 4: WHEN DO I BECOME A SURVIVOR?
Survivors are like tea bags: You don't know how strong we are until you dip us in hot water. So when do you get to call yourself a survivor? Today, mamacita, today! A survivor is a person who perseveres despite hardship or danger. Isn't that you? This may seem like a chapter that should come toward the end of the book, but for many folks living with cancer is a day-to-day, ongoing challenge. Each of you has the right to define your own journey. Go with what feels right for you.
In my mind, you are a survivor the day you are diagnosed.
So don't be timid, say it loud and say it proud. There's no need to wait for the green light from Mr. Doctor Man. Celebrate! Crack the bubbly and order a three-tiered organic frosted cake. Make sure it's fattening and share it with no one. Go ahead, I dare you, walk over to the mirror and say it! I am a survivor ...
One of the first questions people asked me when they found out I was writing a book and making a film about my cancer journey was "Did you beat cancer? Are you in remission yet?" Yet? Oh, the pressure! At first that dreaded question took the wind out of my sails. It felt invasive and nosy, as if I were being quizzed on my net worth or, worse, my weight. But on a deeper level, I was just ashamed to admit that I hadn't kicked it yet. If I had only tried harder, maybe I'd be in the popular clique. Truth be told, I just hated making people worry and light candles. I wanted it all behind me ...
Thought it might not seem like it, this is the time to start taking some risks and planning for your future. That's right, your future isn't a luxury. There are no crystal balls, and magic carpets are just too hard to clean, so stop wasting time and start having fun! Cancer or not, we all know what it's like to long for something. Most of us spend the better part of our twenties and thirties longing for Mr. or Ms. Right and the perfect job. Once we nab that, it's off to pining for that dream house (or apartment for you urban dwellers out there). How many times do we think of our lives as really starting when 'this' happens?
Why does it take a challenge to our survival for us to give ourselves permission to really live? Why don't we accept the gift of life as our birthright?
Trade in the excuses for the why-the-hell nots! Do what makes you feel good. If you don't like something, don't do it. And for God's sake, if you don't have something nice to say about yourself , keep your trap shut!"
Reprinted with permission from Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips, published by skirt! Books, an imprint of Globe Pequot Press. To purchase this book, visit skirt.com or your bookstore.
Tip No. 36: Replace the word "patient" with the word "survivor."
When I started to call myself a survivor, my whole attitude changed. I put cancer behind me (even though it was still a full-blown Stage IV) and started living again.
Tip No. 39: Make a list of 10 things you've always wanted to do and try them.
I call this exercise 'New Year's Resolutions in June.' Write down the first thing that comes to mind and post it someplace where you can see it. Don't get stuck in practicalities, and don't edit.
Painting? Cooking? Writing? Skydiving? Karate? Learning a new language? Your only limitation is your imagination. I like to take flaming red lipstick and write mine on mirrors.