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Why This Founder Finds Inspiration in a Necklace It reminds Evolved by Nature's Rebecca Lacouture of her mother -- and helps her to always do her best.

By Rebecca Lacouture

This story appears in the December 2019 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Michelle Rafferty

My mom, Gail, died after a brief illness in 2005. I was a month away from finishing a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Tufts University. My dad created a personal gift for my sisters and me: necklaces engraved with our mom's thumbprint on the front, and her birth date and the date she passed on the back. They would serve as a reminder that our mother is always with us.

Over the years, I've come to rely upon that necklace -- both personally and professionally.

Less than three years after my mom's death, in 2008, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at just 27 years old. I underwent genetic tests to find out why this might happen to someone so young, but there were no links or answers. I wore my mom's necklace every day through surgery, chemo, and eventually, recovery. On the most difficult days, I held it in my hand -- stacking my thumb on hers and envisioning holding her hand again.