NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - Although "bling" can't cure cancer, it does bring happiness and make women feel beautiful. 

Christine Ferdinand, owner of Ferdinand Jewelers in New Providence, created Operation Bling Foundation from her desire to lift the spirit of a friend who was battling ovarian cancer. She went to visit her friend in the hospital after hearing of her diagnosis. When her friend waved her naked hand and told Christine how much she missed her "bling," Christine wanted to find a way to lift her friend's spirit. 

Woman's World Magazine recently published Christine's story in the November 6, 2017 edition.

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When Christine left her friend that evening, she knew what she had to do. The next day she ordered several cubic zirconia (CZ) rings -- which sparkled like diamonds but were not as valuable. She packaged them in a pretty case, and Christine and her husband Bill went back to the hospital to visit their friend. "I know we can't bring you flowers in the oncology unit -- but we can bring you bling," Christine said to her friend.

The ring wouldn't cure her friend's cancer, but it did bring her happiness and make her feel beautiful.

The impact we made on our friend was so great we wanted to make that same positive difference to as many cancer patients as we possibly could -- and the Operation Bling Foundation was born in 2008, said Christine. "I bet other women facing the daunting process of cancer treatment could use a bit of bling to brighten their lives too," she said.

The word of Operation Bling spread and donations poured in. Christine ordered a selection of stirling silver and CZ rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets and watches for women, men and children facing cancer. Each hospital and department maintains an inventory of "bling" and is available for their patients.

Now, there are nearly 50 "Bling Angels" or volunteers which could be oncology social workers, radiation techs, chemo nurses or official hospital volunteers. Operation Bling is currently in nine local hospitals and has raised the spirits of over 17,000 people.

Berkeley Heights teacher Laurie Liming is one of the recipients. When Laurie lost her hair to breast cancer, she took comfort in proudly showing off her earrings, the Woman's World article said.

"It may sound silly, but I knew that as long as I had my earrings and lipstick, I'd be all right," Laurie said. When her earrings were lost during a hospital stay, Laurie was heartbroken. Operation Bling surprised her with a sparkly new pair. "The kind gesture helped this cancer patient shine," she said. 

Other recipients said:

-- "What you do is so special. You bring some sparkle to the dreariness of cancer."

-- "Somehow it adds to my determination to beat cancer. From now on, I will wear it with great hope and thanks in my heart."

For Christine, she is amazed what a small act of kindness can do. "At a time when people are worried and may not feel like themselves, a little bling reminds them of all the good things in the world," she told Woman's World.

"We would like to make a difference to everyone that  it touches," said Christine. "Until cancer is no more, we want to be there for each person walking the walk. To bring that Cinderella moment -- that ray of light."

Visit the Operation Bling website to learn about fundraising opportunities and how to support Operation Bling through their online boutique or through Ferdinand Jewelers located at 6 South Street, New Providence. 

Editor's Note: "Making Women Sparkle" was featured in the Nov. 6, 2017 Woman's World Magazine.