Julia Louis-Dreyfus Says She Wants Women Battling Breast Cancer to Feel 'Strong': 'That's the Feeling I Have'

Julia Louis-Dreyfus partnered with Saks Fifth Avenue and Key to the Cure to design a powerful t-shirt in honor of breast cancer awareness

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20th Anniversary of Key to The Cure, New York, USA - 18 Oct 2018

One year after Julia Louis-Dreyfus announced she was diagnosed with breast cancer, the Veep actress, 57, is raising funds and awareness about the disease.

She teamed up with Saks Fifth Avenue to become the 2018 ambassador for the retailer’s Key to the Cure initiative, now in its 20th year. As such, she’s promoting the retailer’s new fundraising $35 t-shirt, a $35 design created by Carolina Herrera creative director Wes Gordon, with 100 percent of proceeds being donated to charity.

“We came up with the slogan because it is active and very strong and muscly,” the star told PEOPLE Thursday night at the celebration for the partnership at La Mercerie in N.Y.C.

“That’s the feeling I have and that’s how people should feel when they’re battling breast cancer. I like the combination of the red and pink together. There’s nothing slight about it,” she added.

For each Carolina Herrera Key To The Cure Poppy T-Shirt sold at Saks throughout the month of October, 100 percent of its sales will be donated to AiRS (Alliance in Reconstructive Surgery) Foundation, which works to provide the resources necessary to make restorative breast surgery an option for women who would not otherwise have access to it. Saks has guaranteed a minimum donation of $250,000.

Since the campaign’s inception 20 years ago, Saks has donated close to $40 million to cancer research and treatment organizations throughout the United States.

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20th Anniversary of Key to The Cure, New York, USA - 18 Oct 2018
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Before Louis-Dreyfus decided to partner with Saks and Key to the Cure, she was very careful to make sure the proceeds she’d be raising would go to the right place.

“There are a lot of circumstances where the dollar you put doesn’t necessarily fully go, or half go, to the foundation it represents itself,” she said. “I’m always pretty careful — I’ve done a lot of charity work in the past — so I’m always pretty careful to vet where I lend my time and name and energy, and even money.”

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Courtesy Key To The Cure

“I chose Key to the Cure because their impact is very specific,” she said. “And I love the fact that the entire sale of these t-shirts goes directly to a charity.”

“There are plenty of women who decide not to get reconstruction, which is fine,” Louis-Dreyfus previously told PEOPLE of why the AiRS Foundation really resonates with her. “But if you want it and can’t afford it, that’s heartbreaking to me. The gap between the haves and the have-nots in our country — it’s a very wide divide right now. I’m lucky enough to be in a union where I get fabulous benefits. Not everyone is so lucky.”

While this was one of her first steps into the design world — she called working with Carolina Herrera’s Wes Gordon “groovy” — she said she does not have any plans for more fashion design in the future. “I’ve got so much to do right now,” she said. “I haven’t thought about opening a t-shirt business.”

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