When Burnaby real estate agent Rhonda Gebara was thinking of a charity to get involved with a few years ago, her decision was made the moment she met Anita Cochrane.
Since 2001, Cochrane had been fighting breast cancer, and very much impressed Gebara with her energy and love for life, despite her struggles.
Cochrane passed away in October, 2010, but her life continues to inspire support and hope for those dealing with cancer.
"She's made a pretty big impression on a lot of people, not just me," said Gebara, who decided fundraising for cancer treatment and research would be the best way to honour her friend.
The idea to sell pink pashminas soon came about, and Gebara launched Pashminas for a Cure, selling the soft scarves in the symbolic colour of breast cancer awareness.
So far, the campaign has raised between $6,000 and $7,000.
Gebara says the most important aspect of the project is to simply raise awareness for the need to support cancer research.
"It can open dialogue," she said of the statement people can make by wearing the bright pink fashion accessory. Gebara's goal is to have a set day each week that people will wear their pashminas in order to pique people's curiosity and get them asking questions.
"So many people that I've met have said, 'You know what, I think cancer research is an industry; it's a joke, with the money that's being put in there and nothing's being done,' and that's not true," said Gebara. "A lot of progress is being made."
Last year, Pashminas for a Cure joined in partnership with the Tapestry Foundation, an organization that raises funds to support seniors' care, hospital care and physical rehabilitation.
The pashminas cost $25, with $20 from each sale going to the Tapestry Foundation to help pay for a new mammography machine at Mount Saint Joseph Hospital.
"We have to help and do our part, if it's a little bit or a lot," said Gebara. "Even if it's a little bit, at the end, if they ever do find a cure, at least you'll know that you had a part in it."
Gebara has made a personal pledge to donate $500 to the Tapestry Foundation for each completed transaction she makes through her work as a real estate agent, until the full $650,000 is raised for a new digital mammography machine.
As well, she plans to donate $1,000 per completed sale to Children's Hospital for children's cancer research.
To buy a pashmina, or for more information, contact Gebara at 778-836-9993, or visit the website, www. pashminasforacure.org.