Life and White Roses: Celebrating Twelve Years of Remission

Life and White Roses: Celebrating Twelve Years of Remission

When I first googled the symbolic meaning of white roses many years ago, the words on the screen made me love them even more. White roses are not only absolutely breathtaking, they also symbolize so many of the feelings that I’ve embraced since I was diagnosed with cancer: Reverence, Humility, and Hope.

I chose to celebrate my first year of remission from cancer in July of 2009 by walking around my company’s office suites and handing out five dozen, long-stemmed, perfect white roses. As I handed the roses to my coworkers (male and female), I simply stated that I was “celebrating the first year of my new life.”

As an executive, I guess some people would say that it is not wise to share weaknesses with those one works with, especially those under one’s supervision, but I disagree. I don’t share everything with my coworkers, but celebrating life just seemed...natural.

The next year found me again at the Florist, picking up my standing order for five dozen white roses. This time, when I handed them out at work, several of my coworkers simply smiled, hugged me, and said, “Good to have you around for another year.” By my third anniversary, I found that several of them had vases on their desks, in anticipation of the white rose that they knew they would be receiving.

I moved from Jackson in 2012 to start a new life in my hometown of St. Martin, Mississippi. Leaving a job that I had worked so hard to obtain was not an easy decision, but it was necessary for me to return home. I simply couldn’t be an effective compliance director if I lived three hours away from the corporate offices in Jackson. My mom and dad were in their 70’s, and I wanted this time with them, and to reconnect with my family and friends at home.

A few months after I moved home, my aunt, Ginger invited me to a women’s business expo. Sitting in the auditorium, I listened as the second speaker of the day asked the audience members what would be our own “personal logo?”

I thought about her question as I stared at the handout she’d provided for us. The square where we were to draw our logo waited for me to fill it with a compelling and strong personal statement. But how do you create a logo for a life that has been filled with so many amazing experiences, from Mississippi to Texas to Europe and back again? I thought about drawing a cross sitting on a law book with a stethoscope draped across it, but it just didn’t seem to fit the life-changing decisions I had made over those last four years.

Then it hit me: the white rose. Hope, Humility, Reverence. It symbolized everything that I wanted in my new life, and everything I’ve overcome to get where I am today.

Today, I will place white roses on my Maw-Maw’s grave, to remember her as a fellow colon cancer warrior, and to thank her for passing along that Basque “toughness” to me - a strength that lives on in her children and grandchildren. Today, on this twelfth year of celebration I will again go buy those white roses and hand them out to my coworkers and clients. To my friends who do not get a rose today, know this: you are a very special part of my life. I thank God each and every day for your friendship.

Thank you for showing me, every day, what those words, Hope, Humility, and Reverence truly mean.


September 9, 2020