Woman's World

“The power of hope can heal so many hearts!”


After a vacation turned out to be the best medicine in Rossana Shanklin’s fight against breast cancer, she and her husband opened a bed and breakfast that welcomes cancer patients—for free!

Rossana Shanklin shook her head sadly. “I’m so sorry, Gilbert,” she told her high-school friend, who had called to invite her to a reunion in Montreal. “I’m too tired and weak to walk most of the time, and so drained, emotionall­y and financiall­y. I just can’t make the trip.”

Just months before, while making plans to open a restaurant with her profession­al chef boyfriend, Andrew, the 48-year-old Las Vegas divorced mother of two had been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, which had invaded her lungs and bones.

Now, four months into a six-month aggressive regiment of intravenou­s and oral chemothera­py, Rossana was suffering brutal side effects. But when she explained the situation to Gilbert, he persisted, even insisting that he would pay expenses for her and Andrew to make the trip, if her doctor cleared her to travel.

Surprising­ly, when Rossana visited her oncologist, her doctor encouraged her to go.

“It will do you good! Go have fun!” she insisted.

And for 10 blissful days, Rossana and Andrew did just that, relaxing and laughing with friends while walking along Lake Champlain.

“This is magical!” Rossana sighed to Andrew, as the two fell in love all over again.

“It was the best thing I could have done!” a rejuvenate­d Rossana shared with her doctor upon her return.

And that checkup brought even more good news: her cancer was in remission. Knowing she’d turned a corner, Rossana’s spirits soared, and she and Andrew married, renewing their dream of starting their own business.

But instead of a restaurant, Rossana now had a new idea.

“Let’s open a bed and breakfast!” she exclaimed, explaining that Andrew could cook delicious meals for their guests and she could pay her blessings forward by providing cancer patients and survivors the same kind of restorativ­e getaway that she had been given.

Andrew loved the plan, and in May 2014, six months after transformi­ng a century-old duplex, Rossana and Andrew opened The Rose Petal Inn in Geneva, New York.

Year round, along with paying guests, the Shanklins welcome cancer patients, survivors and their partners for free. Rossana and Andrew only insist that they get their doctors’ permission to travel.

Once they arrive, Rossana watches, often through tears, as her special guests spend a few carefree days relaxing, basking in the natural beauty of the area and soaking up some much-needed TLC.

The notebook Rossana keeps at the front desk for guests’ comments is filled with heartfelt words of gratitude.

Thank you for being the calm in the storm that has been my life for the past two years, one woman with cancer wrote.

Thank you for everything, especially the prayers, another jotted down.

“Just being able to give them a little love and peace makes me happy,” Rossana smiles. “They walk away with renewed strength and hope, and that means more than anything!”

 ??  ?? “It feels wonderful to help others the way I was helped,” says Rossana ( right) with husband Andrew
“It feels wonderful to help others the way I was helped,” says Rossana ( right) with husband Andrew
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