On October 3, 2019, the 11th Annual Drink Pink for a cause will take place at The Lounsbury House in Ridgefield. This event supports Ann’s Place while putting a spotlight on local breast cancer 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 the Lounsbury House 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 journey with us.
Visit Crowdrise HERE to support the 2019 Drink Pink Courageous Faces.
Meet Drink Pink model and Courageous Face, Kristen Hatcher-Fontaine
When and how did you first learn you had breast cancer?
As the daughter of a mother who died from breast cancer, I was always aware of the importance of checking my breasts. I noticed a lump very close to the nipple. It was quite large, about the size of a quarter. At first, I waited and told myself it was nothing and it would go away. It didn't go away in a week so I made an appointment with my breast surgeon and he got me in very quickly. That's when things moved fast - my world changed in an instant. When the biopsy came back, it indicated that the lump was not cancerous but all the tissue around it was. If I didn't have the lump it would have been a very long time before I would have realized I had cancer. My biggest fears were now coming true - I was 47 years old with two small children ages 7 and 9 and I had an aggressive type of Breast Cancer.
Who did you turn to for support and how was that person or organization supportive?
My friends and family became a source of comfort and support for me. My sister and my husband became my advocates and nurses. I had a close friend who rallied around me and created a website so both my family and I could feel supported. I had friends who sat with me through chemo and entertained me during long days of recovery.
Friends and family from all over the country provided, meals, Reiki sessions, laundry service, house cleaning, grocery shopping, babysitting, activities for my kids to attend, rides, cards, gifts and positive support throughout my journey. It was nice not to have to worry about the day to day running of my household. Their help allowed my husband and I to focus on treatments and fighting.
I had been involved with Ann’s Place for a few years as a volunteer but now I needed their services for me. I began attending some activities at Ann's Place. I met an amazing group of people who took me in and helped me in a time when things seemed so dark. I received guidance and knowledge about this disease from first-hand survivors.
Ann’s Place was very critical to my recovery. My children also participated in many of the different programs Ann’s Place had to offer.They loved it. This has helped them adjust to the changes we have had to face as a family. Thanks to Ann’s Place I now see myself as a survivor.
After I got cancer so many things in my life changed. Not just physical changes but mental changes too. I have really been working on trying to get myself back out there and try new things.
I applied for the photoshoot with the encouragement of my husband. I thought I would never get chosen. When I did, I had to face my fears of having people look at me. I had to go in front of the camera and people a side of me that was still very raw.
I was absolutely terrified to go back to a salon and have a makeover because for the last year, I didn't look like myself and the new me had very little hair, no eyelashes, and no eyebrows. I thought, what are they going to do with me? Well, to my surprise I met with the makeup artist at AB and she worked her magic. I learned how to apply makeup and accent different parts of my face so I didn't look like a cancer patient. This was a great confidence boost for me. It was a great opportunity to show how far I had come through this bumpy journey. Cancer isn't always pretty and neat. It's not always about pink ribbons and cancer walks. It can be gritty, tough,scaring, raw and beautiful all at the same time.
When I arrived at Kristen’s Studio she made me feel like I was her only priority. She welcomed me like I was an old friend. She made me feel comfortable and she really makes you feel special. She is very creative and she sees the special part of everyone she photographs. It was an incredible experience and I'm honored to represent Ann’s Place for this great cause.
Tell me about something someone said or did that helped you through your most difficult days
My cousin gave me a plaque with the quote on it: You are stronger than you know until strong is the only choice you have.
What message do you have for others who have been diagnosed with breast cancer?
Be your best advocate and let people help you. It was so hard to let other people help me because I thought I would never need the help - but I needed to focus all my energy on fighting.
I was so lucky to have a strong husband and a great core group of people to help me.
Thank you for the opportunity to represent Ann’s Place. It truly has been a blessing at a time when my family was living its biggest fears.