A Chanel bag is not the first thing you think about when you think about the fight against breast cancer. But it can be an effective tool to help raise awareness, money and spirits while efforts are under way to find a cure for this disease.

I’ll explain, in a moment.

First, I want to share with you the experience and privilege I have greeting women every day at the Pembroke Pink Imaging Center.

Women walk into the center overwhelmed with a range of emotions – stress, anxiety, hurt, confusion and fear, to name a few. I consider it a privilege to meet and help them through this time of uncertainty and I make it my priority to reassure them that we will take care of them.

I always encourage people to think positive and to laugh.  It’s important to laugh. It’s important to be ok with what is happening from diagnosis to treatment to recovery. Sometimes women will refer to their breasts with funny names, such as ta-tas, it makes them laugh, it makes people around them laugh and best of all it, helps everybody relax.

A good sense of humor, a positive attitude, and the support of family and friends will go a long way.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is important because this disease does not only affect women it affects the entire family.

I urge women to get to know their own bodies. Since early detection is key to fighting and beating breast cancer, self-examinations are a must for every woman. Checking your breasts regularly and seeing a doctor are the best ways to detect any issues early and it’s never too early to start. I feel like younger people really need to understand that. They need to check themselves. The earlier that becomes a habit the better.

I want to be there for women the moment they find out, whether the test is negative or positive. I want to celebrate a cancer free diagnosis with them or I want to hold their hand or give them a reassuring hug that we will be with them every step of the way for their treatment and recovery.

Being a part of their journey, makes me feel like I am making a difference in their lives because they are certainly making a difference in mine.

There is a history of cancer in my family. The more I learned about cancer through my family’s experience the more I wanted to help and share that knowledge with others.

My grandmother is a breast cancer survivor. Diagnosed 15 years ago, she is now cancer free. I saw what she went through with chemo and how this illness affected the whole family. I wanted to do something to stop breast cancer.

That’s where the Chanel bag comes in.

I wanted to do more than just donate money. I wanted to raise awareness. I decided the best way I could help educate people, while raising money and lifting spirits, was to host a fundraiser. This is my second year organizing a fundraiser, sending out fliers and getting the whole community involved and securing donations for food and prizes.

This year, I hosted a fundraising lunch at my home and auctioned a Chanel bag, and offered other prizes.

It was a huge success. We raised and donated $580 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. More importantly, we educated many women and their family members about the importance of self-exams and early detection.

One day I hope to host a fundraiser with a turnout so huge I will need a hall to accommodate everyone. Imagine how many people we can help and how many lives we can save.