Council Chair Darden Rice announces she’ll undergoing breast cancer treatment

By : Jeremy Williams
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ST. PETERSBURG –St. Petersburg Council Chair Darden Rice announced in a press release Jan. 30 that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I’ve always championed transparency and have been straightforward with my friends, family, colleagues, and constituents. You have placed your trust in me – for that reason I am disclosing a deeply personal issue in my life: I have been recently diagnosed with breast cancer,” Rice begins in her press release.

Rice will take a couple of weeks off for personal time and to consult with her doctors about a treatment plan, but expects a fully recovery and will be back working for St. Petersburg shortly.

“While cancer is news no one wants to hear, I am thankful for my excellent doctors, the high quality treatment options in our region, and insurance coverage that allays many financial concerns” she said. “I am especially thankful for all those close to me who are a constant source of support and encouragement.”

Speaking with the Tampa Bay Times, Rice said that she’s undergoing treatment, which will include surgery, radiation and endocrine therapy, under the supervision of doctors at St. Anthony’s Hospital in St. Petersburg and H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa.

“I have a lot of things going in my favor. I’m very optimistic,” Rice told the Tampa Bay Times. “I intend to be a little old lady shaking my cane at the powers that be.”

While away, Council Member Lisa Wheeler Bowman will assume Rice’s chair duties.

Rice pressed women to take initiative in their personal healthcare and to get annual cancer screenings.

“I would be remiss if I did not shout from the rooftop: Early detection saves lives. I encourage women to take annual breast cancer screening seriously. It will save your life,” she said.

Rice was first elected to St. Petersburg City Council’s District 4 seat in 2013. Along with District 5’s Steve Kornell and District 8’s Amy Foster, Rice helps to make up a trio of openly gay city council members that have helped the city by the bay flourish as an accepting and tolerant place for the LGBTQ community, and Rice wants to make very clear that that commitment is not going anywhere.

“I have committed my life to public service. I love my work. I love my city. I will be announcing my campaign for re-election in two weeks,” she said.

Many friends, members of the community and well wishers took to social media to offer thoughts and prayers for the city council chair, as well as offer words of encouragement.

“I just heard of your diagnosis, and wanted to send you healing thoughts for a rapid and complete recovery. Looking forward to seeing you back out in front as soon as you’re ready,” wrote one supporter.

“Thank you so much for your inspiring words at the march. Thinking of you today and sending positive thoughts and prayers your way as you begin your own journey to healing,” wrote another.

Rice asked for a brief period of privacy while she and her family make their own adjustments to this diagnosis.

“I campaigned three years ago on a platform of ‘St. Pete Strong’: strong city services, strong city economic development, strong neighborhoods. Three years later our city is stronger than ever,” Rice said. “And I am, too.”

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