A family history of breast cancer gave Leslie Scott-Rose every reason to suspect the disease lurked in her genes. But she never suspected that her 2006 diagnosis, four years of treatment and determination to survive would bring to life a collection of inspirational greeting cards.
Cards for Life helped Scott-Rose, 52, and 58-year-old husband Mitch Rose, spread their message of peace, joy and positive thinking while surgery and chemotherapy battered Scott-Rose's body and spirit. Devised as a way to stay in touch with Rogue Valley friends during a New York hospital stay, Cards for Life comprises 130 designs for sale at Ashland's Shop 'N' Kart and Bloomsbury Books.
Cards for Life can be purchased at Shop 'N' Kart, 2268 Ashland St., and Bloomsbury Books, 290 E. Main St., both in Ashland. For more information, e-mail Leslie Scott-Rose at Wessieots@aol.com.
"Who knew that by going through cancer, we would create a card company?" Scott-Rose laughs.
The cards feature the original photography of Scott-Rose and her husband, reproduced as 4-by-6-inch prints and sometimes overlaid with inspirational quotations and phrases. Buddha statues, floral arrangements, smiley faces or sunsets over the ocean characterize the cards, all offered with God's "blessings."
"If people count their blessings in their lives, then their lives are going to be a lot better," says Scott-Rose.
She and Rose count themselves blessed to have local outlets for their endeavor. Working from their home near Eagle Point, they mount the photos to card stock with adhesive strips, affix stickers printed with their testimonial and slip the finished cards into plastic sleeves with appropriate envelopes. Each card sells for $3.78 at Shop 'N' Kart, their largest retailer.
"We're not photographers; we're not computer whizzes," says Scott-Rose.
But they've managed in three years to make thousands of cards, some given away to fellow cancer patients at Medford's Hematology Oncology Associates, some to the Medford office of American Cancer Society, others to passersby who may "need an uplifting moment in their day." The couple's flagship card, depicting a pink rose against an expansive sky, honors breast-cancer patients with the phrase "Everything is possible."
It's an affirmation evident in Scott-Rose's account of battling cancer. Proactive in her own health, she detected a lump in her fibrous breast tissue a few months after a mammogram failed to reveal the mass. Both her maternal aunts were stricken with the disease — one succumbed — and her mother, Janice E. Scott, likely would have followed suit if she hadn't died at age 46 of ovarian cancer, says Scott-Rose.
"I was on the lookout for cancer."
When it found her, Scott-Rose elected to have a double mastectomy and hysterectomy to reduce sources of the hormone estrogen, shown to encourage breast cancer. She took vitamins and supplements that she credits with preventing nausea during chemotherapy. These combined with eating healthfully, meditating, praying and living close to nature — all vital pursuits before cancer — became Scott-Rose's prescriptions for wellness. It wasn't all sunny days, she says, but whenever a negative thought cast a cloud on her recovery, she and her husband "put it in a closet and shut the door."
"If I had a different support system, I could have easily gone down," Scott-Rose says. "It's way easy to go down."
Scott-Rose drew strength not only from people in her life, but from animals. Throughout her chemotherapy, she continued her years of volunteering at Oregon Tiger Sanctuary near Lake Creek, where the cats' power inspired her own. Scott-Rose says she relied on the motto: "Every time I hear the word 'chemo,' I feel more and more invincible."
Although she had surgery in New York, where a friend heads up a hospital, Scott-Rose received all her intravenous chemotherapy treatments in Medford, finishing them early this year. Her latest tests have come back negative for cancer, and her prognosis is "all clear" — to be confirmed with testing at regular intervals, ensured by hormone-blocking drugs and backed by Scott-Rose's healthful lifestyle and mentality.
"I focused on 'all clear' all the time," says Scott-Rose. "My plan is to be all clear forever."