A rose for cancer research

22 March 2018

When Ken Cooper lost his wife Susan to cancer, he determined to do three things in her memory.

First, he installed a stone plaque in the vegetable garden of the Southern Highlands property he shared with Susan. Susan was a talented cook who for many years ran a successful catering company, and the vegetable garden gave her great pleasure. 

Second, the family created a memorial garden at Norwood Park in Mitchell.

Third, after some effort and searching, Ken found a way to create a new rose dedicated to Susan’s memory. Susan was a passionate gardener who loved roses, and they reminded Ken of the gardens they both enjoyed in London during their 20 years living there.

Working with Swane’s Nurseries, he searched through nearly 400 potential new roses which could bear her name. “There was one that I thought was absolutely Susan. When I showed it to our children, they said, ‘That’s Mum.’ It is a very beautiful rose that subtly changes colour over time, and it has this wonderful fragrance. It could not have been a better choice for Susan.” With Ken’s support, the nursery undertook to propagate and name the rose. The Susan Cooper rose will become a reality this winter.

For every Susan Cooper Rose sold, the family will donate ten dollars to the John Curtin School of Medical Research . Ken says he’s hopeful the research being conducted at the School could make a real difference to other families feeling the effects of cancer.  

“It felt like a good way to honour Susan, and also bring attention and funding to the JCSMR. I hope it will help to build a groundswell of interest in the research currently being carried out at these world-class institutions."

“I know Susan would have approved, and that’s comforting as well.”

Ken says he is already planning where to plant Susan’s rose in his 20-acre garden; somewhere he will pass frequently, for “a constant reminder of a very beautiful person”.

The Susan Cooper Rose is available to order for winter planting.