My oncologist left an unexpected voice mail on my phone. Of course, the very sight of the hospital number made me hold my breath. I can remember all the calls that started with a doctor asking if I had someone there with me. Then, I wouldn't need to hear the rest. I already knew what they were going to say: the cancer is back, again. Those calls, which started coming when I was 15, continued through my teens and 20s.
But this time, the voice mail contained a request. My oncologist wanted to know if she could use my photo in a lecture she was preparing for other doctors. The point of the lecture was to convince them that people with my type of cancer are still curable, even after many recurrences.
Like so many doctor calls before, this one left me in tears. But not because my life was about to be derailed again by treatments and surgeries but because I was the one doing the derailing. I've been cancer-free for six years. The call made me realize that, not only did the doctors think full recovery was impossible for me, many of them still don't believe it.
Kris Carr made this moment possible. I still remember finding her book in the health section of a Barnes & Noble. I was bald and wearing my favorite 1920s-styled hat. And there it was — Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips — a book with sass, spunk and spirit. A book that didn't make me feel like an after school special or a lost cause or a helpless patient.
Back then, juicing veggies and going vegan were still considered a weird endeavors that only hippies embarked upon. I had never seen the words "plant-based diet," and the documentary Forks Over Knives was still years away from streaming on Netflix. There wasn't a single store or restaurant in my town with the word "vegan" attached to any of their products and meals.
But Kris made it seem doable. Not only doable, but sexy and fun — two words that had never been applied to my prognosis or treatment plan. I could relate to her. She was my very first wellness role model. So, with my mom's support, I started my own thrilling lifestyle transformation. And I've never looked back.
Recently, I saw an interview in which she talked about how she sold her apartment and pretty much everything she owned to make your documentary film. I think back to what a huge risk it was for her then, when she had no guarantee that anyone would ever hear what she had to say or that she would even survive to see it finished.
But holy (insert favorite swear here) we are here! Despite the odds and the experts! And I can honestly say that Kris Carr saved my life. I'm sure she gets tons of fan mail all the time from folks like me saying she altered the course of their lives. I'm also sure that, like me, she's lost many people too soon.
Still, I couldn't resist adding my voice to all the praise Kris has received. I'm still drinking green smoothies, practicing yoga, and recommending her to everyone I know. Oh, how the world has changed since that day in the Barnes & Noble! Kris Carr is a huge part of that shift.
I'm sure there are people out there who are arriving at their scary, risky moment — that moment when they're thinking about selling everything they own to finance a project they aren't even sure anyone will ever want to see. And I'm sure there are people who have been given their version of an "incurable" diagnosis. People who are struggling to keep the faith after many rejections or failures. People just beginning to discover their voices and playing with the idea of the impossible.
To those people, I say please dream and dare. You never know whose life is depending on your bravery.
Photo Credit: Getty Images