Little shop of hope: Woman fighting cancer cultivates her dream at store in Morrison

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By Barbara Ford

Inside a tiny flower shop opening Monday in Morrison, happiness and hope have found a place on the shelves alongside plump roses and ruby-red glass vases.

Christine Knowles plans to open Red Rocks Floral & Gifts on Feb. 1. For her, it’s more than a dream — it’s the best therapy money can buy.

Knowles, 48, was diagnosed with a rare type of breast cancer in April 2007. At that time, she made the difficult decision to undergo a mastectomy, and she also endured four months of chemotherapy and nine weeks of daily radiation treatments.

For the next two years, she received negative tests and scans, and Knowles began to think of herself as a survivor. Then, her most recent checkup in December showed a hot spot. Her doctor performed a biopsy, and the result was devastating: triple-negative metastatic stage 4 breast cancer.

In the hope of buying precious time, Knowles underwent nine weeks of radiation treatments that she completed last Thursday.

When Knowles was told that her prognosis was not good, she decided to go with the best therapy of all: realizing a dream.

Knowles’ dream has taken the form of lots and lots of flowers. She pursued with all possible zeal the creation of the little flower shop at 203 Bear Creek Ave. in downtown Morrison, a dream that has blossomed overnight.

Knowles will sell flowers for weddings, funerals and special occasions and create bouquets and arrangements. The store will be part of FTD, an online and wire flower service.

“People always buy flowers, even in a bad economy,” Knowles said. “Maybe not the big ones, but they still buy them, and they still have weddings and funerals.”

She wants to surround herself with the vivid colors and heavenly scents of a variety of flowers. She said roses will be a big seller, and she’ll even stock her beloved conca d’or lilies, her signature flower.

Knowles plans to get the shop on its feet quickly so she has something to leave her daughter, Amanda.

Besides opening a full-service floral shop, she’s also finishing up her associate degree in business and marketing at Red Rocks Community College and will graduate at the end of 2010.

Knowles’ dreams and ambitions are just some of the reasons she has chosen not to pursue experimental medication studies or undergo more chemotherapy and radiation. She said the months she would lose being sick from treatments can be put to better use.

“I have the opportunity to resolve things in my life, and most people put those things off,” Knowles said.

Knowles describes herself as a happy, jolly person and though she’s been given two years to live, she doesn’t appear sick.

“It’s really hard to accept this is going on when you feel OK. I don’t feel sick,” Knowles said.

Though Knowles is grateful for people’s stories of hope, she doesn’t believe something magical is going to happen and she’ll live forever. The odds are not in her favor.

Knowles said she’s been through the stages of anger and grief, and she gets grumpy when she feels she doesn’t have control. Her resolve is to get up in the morning and see what she wants to do that day to make herself happy. The flower shop does just that.

In the spring, Knowles plans lots of colorful potted plants, flats of flowers and yard decorations in the small courtyard next to the shop. She also has plans for floral design classes at the store.

A portion of the store’s profits will go to the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, an organization that helps people fighting her type of cancer find hope and help. Twenty percent of the profits will go to the foundation once the capital investment is paid back. She wants something positive to come out of her experience, something she calls “beautiful flowers for a beautiful intention.”

Knowles is looking forward to the shop’s opening like a kid anticipates Christmas morning. Her previous experience with a flower shop and her education give her all she needs to get the store open. However, she knows it’s how she faces her challenges that will make this dream work.

“You have to be positive, no matter how long your life’s going to be,” Knowles said. “If you would have asked me how I would have reacted before I was diagnosed, … I’d have been angry and asked, ‘Why me?’ It doesn’t matter why me. It is what it is.”

Knowles looks at her life through rose-colored glasses — and she plans to make it the best one possible.

“I haven’t lost hope. I’m just changing what I’m hoping for,” Knowles said.

  Red Rocks Floral & Gifts

203 Bear Creek Ave. in Morrison