On October 10, 2018, the 10th Annual Drink Pink for a cause will take place at Bernard’s in Ridgefield. This event supports Ann’s Place while putting a spotlight on local breast cancer patients and survivors.
The photo you see here is one of Kristen Jensen’s “Courageous Faces”. This and many other photos of cancer survivors and those in the midst of treatment will blanket the walls of Bernard’s on October 10 telling a story of life, struggle, friendship, and hope.
Here, we couple the many Courageous Faces with their unique stories. We thank each and every one of these ladies for sharing their difficult journey with us.
Rita L. Frost
Occupation: Artist, photographer, writer
Tell me about when you first learned you had breast cancer
I first learned I had breast cancer in October, l980 - Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I was 38, single, and living alone in Manhattan. I had never had breast issues and never had a mammogram. After listening to ads on radio/TV, decided to check myself in the shower and I was startled when I found a lump.
The next day, I went to the doctor and he suggested a breast surgeon who was located on Park Ave in Manhattan. Big mistake. He said wait a few months to get a mammogram, even after I told him I had never had one.
In July of 1981, I went to my doctor on Long Island, where my parents lived, and he advised me to get a mammogram immediately. The result? “Consistent with carcinoma.” I needed a mastectomy. They took 27 nodes out and 6 were bad. They diagnosed me at Stage 2, I had a year of chemotherapy; towards the end of it, I went on with my life painting and exhibiting at shows and being a New York City tour guide.
In l986, I had a reoccurrence and had radiation.
In l988, still single, I moved to Connecticut and in l997 married my love who I remet after 35 years. We enjoyed life! We went into travel photography and won 62 first prizes. All my life I had been an impressionistic artist and exhibited for 40 years.
In 2005, I had a reoccurrence.
In 2007, I lost my beloved mother and 3 weeks later, suddenly lost my beloved husband. The grief was worse than cancer. I was a walking zombie.
In 2016, I had another reoccurrence all had been in my breast. This time it was in my neck.
I presently have Stage 4 breast cancer. Another challenge...
Who did you turn to for support and how was that person or organization supportive?
I found a book Gateway to Happiness by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin. It answers many questions on handling the journey of life. Also, during my darkest days of chemo in l981, I started writing a book; Coping with Chemotherapy. It gave me the opportunity to interview many top doctors in NYC. on many issues of the trials, chemo did to your body. At the time, there were few books on patients and chemotherapy.
Faith, my beloved mother, my cats, writing including poetry, traveling, painting, photography, gardening, and great friends were the gems throughout life. Later, marrying at 56, my beloved husband was my greatest gift.
What message do you have for others who have been diagnosed with breast cancer?
My suggestion would be this: do not let cancer rule your life, you rule it. Also, always ask questions, keep all your records (I even have the original slides of my cancer, l98l). Cancer should not be your main focus in life. You must find passions in your life and do something worthwhile. I also did research on the life of Varian Fry who saved over 2,000 people including Marc Chagall in Vichy France. He had lived in Ridgefield. I took on many speaking engagements and informed hundreds of people about this local man’s heroism. This project kept me very busy.
So you see, I had no time for cancer.
Drink Pink for a cause will take place at Bernard's in Ridgefield (20 West Lane) on Wednesday, October 10 from 6 to 8pm. There is no need to RSVP! Just show up ($20 at the door benefits Ann's Place) for an unforgettable night. There will be nibbles (courtesy of 109 Cheese), pink cocktails, live music, and fantastic raffle prizes!
Support Ann's Place, Rita, and all of our Drink Pink Courageous Faces by visiting their Crowdrise fundraising page here.