Chris Borzym, owner of Christopher Mark Fine Flowers and Gifts in Brookfield, is retiring and closing the business on Feb. 28 to focus on his health and lower stress as he continues his fight against prostate cancer. | Alex Rogals/Staff Photographer

A year ago, reeling from a bleak prostate cancer diagnosis, but uplifted by the support he’d received from friends, family, customers and Brookfielders he’d never met, Chris Borzym remained upbeat.

“We’re going to make it work,” Borzym told the Landmark last February. “It’s onward and upward. We don’t allow any negativity.”

That remained Borzym’s motto during a 2021 that saw him undergo radiation treatment to counteract the Stage 4 prostate cancer he’d developed and still attend to his business, Christopher Mark Fine Flowers and Gifts in downtown Brookfield.

And after that remarkable year, the 63-year-old Borzym has decided it’s time to close up shop and retire. He opened his business at 3742 Grand Blvd. in November 2005.

“I frickin’ love what I do. It’s been a passion of mine since I was a kid,” said Borzym, who in his 20s operated a small flower shop in Cicero for five years with his aunt before she sold the business.

But, another six-week round of radiation treatment last November and then a heart scare in December – his blood pressure had gone through the roof in the past year – got him reassessing things.

“It showed me I can’t both take care of myself and the business,” Borzym said.

Late last year, Borzym’s husband, Jim Deacon, did some number crunching and concluded, “You can retire if you want.”

“I really didn’t believe him at first, right away,” Borzym said. “I was just not ready for this decision.”

After getting a good report in early January from his cardiologist and a very positive report from his oncologist – his PSA levels were back to something resembling normal – Borzym was ready.

“When we got back from the doctor,” said Borzym, “I told Jim, ‘Let’s think about retirement.’”

The store’s final day of business will be Feb. 28. Borzym leases the space and he’s unsure anyone will be purchasing the business. After Valentine’s Day, he’ll begin liquidating the inventory, including furniture and display cases, with the hope loose ends will be wrapped up by the end of March.

Borzym displays two angels holding light blue hearts, denoting prostate cancer, in the windows of his shop as a tribute to the community that has shown so much support during his battle with cancer. | Bob Uphues/Editor

After that, Borzym and Deacon may do a little traveling – a trip to northern California may be on the list — and visit family out of state. But the principal focus will be fighting the diagnosis that overturned Borzym’s life a little more than a year ago.

At that time, he had penned a poem which he included in an online journal he’s started as a way to work through his cancer diagnosis. A nurse at Rush University Medical Center found it inspiring enough that she shared it with other patients in the cancer center at Rush.

“It’s wonderful to know that what I’ve been going through has now helped someone else,” Borzym said.

He also has been floored by the support he’d received in the past year in Brookfield – not just the nearly $50,000 raised online to help supplement his then-inadequate health insurance, but the well wishes, prayers and thoughts from community members.

“Whatever anyone believes in, I’ll accept them,” he said. “It just keeps me going.”

A physical manifestation of that support can be seen in two angels holding hearts painted light blue, denoting prostate cancer, which someone gave him last year. They are displayed in the front windows of the flower shop, with signs above them reading “Brookfield is community.”

“It’s my tribute to everyone here in this awesome town,” Borzym said.

“I feel lucky to be alive, and I don’t want to let all that’s happened this last year go to waste.”