Purses with a Purpose: Suburban cancer patient works to educate, outfit others

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And on any given day you will find Gwen Rich working countless hours on her handbags. It is a project with a purpose , developed after this north suburban business woman and mother of four was diagnosed with terminal stage four metastatic breast cancer.

Gwen’s breast cancer is in her spine.   It was undetected by doctors for eight years as she sought treatment for spinal stenosis or compression around her spine. By her 2012 cancer diagnosis, the time for treatment was gone.

“I know this is going to sound weird to you and the viewers but I honestly believe my diagnosis was a blessing,” she says. “I was actually happy that I found out something was wrong because I really thought I was crazy and people thought I was crazy for so long.”

While doctors can’t help her, quality for Gwen is helping others.

In October she launched The Gwen Marie Collection, six handbags, all named after friends and family who have survived the disease.

A way to build community among people whose lives have been affected by cancer, the bags are made in the U.S.A with proceeds going to breast cancer research at the University of Chicago.

Her family, the bags and educating others about cancer is now Gwen’s life’s work.

A strict diet and medication is keeping her physically strong, while making a difference keeps her feeling alive.

More info at http://www.gwenmariecollection.com/

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