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November 13, 2005

US Postal Stamps Help Cancer Research


The "Fund the Fight, Find a Cure" semi-postal stamp was released in July 1998 to help fund breast cancer research.

The stamp’s introduction was a direct result of the efforts of Dr. Ernie Bodai, MD, a Breast Health Specialist who has treated more than 2000 women with breast cancer over the last 15 years. Dr. Bodai travels the United States addressing groups of women about breast cancer.

Dr. Bodai first came up with the idea of selling a slightly higher than normal stamp by talking with numerous breast cancer patients and survivors. He wanted breast cancer research advocates to dictate how the profits from the stamp would be spent (for example, genetic research one year, environmental causes of breast cancer the next year, and so forth). The Breast Cancer Research stamp sells for $0.45 instead of the normal $0.37 for a first class stamp. The additional $0.08 goes to the National Institutes of Health and the Defense Department to help fund breast cancer research. A "normal" book of 20 first class stamps costs $7.40. A book of 20 Breast Cancer Research stamps costs $9.00.

Each year, over 20,000 bills are introduced during Congressional sessions. Of those 20,000 bills, only 200 make it to the floor for discussion. Dr. Bodai and breast cancer research advocates convinced then New York House Representative Susan Molinari to introduce the bill to Congress. After mild opposition in the House and then the Senate, the bill was passed in both houses and sent on to the President in 1997. On August 13, 1997, President Bill Clinton signed the Breast Cancer Research bill, making it Public Law 105-41-only the 41st bill ever to pass through Congress.

The stamp itself was designed by Ethel Kessler, a breast cancer survivor in Bethesda, Maryland and was illustrated by Whitney Sherman of Baltimore, Maryland. The stamp portrays the Roman Goddess, Diana, protector of women in Roman Mythology. Diana is reaching for a quiver, symbolizing that she will protect women from harm. Diana’s arm is raised in the same position a woman would raise her arm during mammography and breast self-examination. In the place of her right breast is the circular "Fund the Fight, Find the Cure" logo.

At a special White House ceremony in August 1998, the Breast Cancer Research stamp was officially introduced by then First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. Elizabeth "Betsy" Mullen, founder and president of the Women's Information Network Against Breast Cancer (WINABC), was a featured speaker at the ceremony. Mullen was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992 at the age of thirty-three. Through her own struggles with the disease, Mullen became an avid breast cancer advocate. Mullen and fellow WINABC board member David Goodman helped Dr. Bodai gain legislative support for the Breast Cancer Research stamp. Goodman lost his wife to breast cancer in 1997.

It is estimated that over 182,000 American women are diagnosed with breast cancer annually and more than 40,000 American women will die from the disease each year.

Many research studies on new drug treatments and other minimally invasive breast cancer therapies rely on funding from breast cancer support organizations. Over 330 million stamps have been printed since 1998 and distributed to over 40,000 U.S. Postal facilities.

Breast Cancer Research Stamps (45� each), pane of 20, Item #553040, $9.00

Additional Resources and References

  • Breast Cancer Research stamps may be ordered at local U.S. Post Offices or online at http://shop.usps.com/ (under the special stamps section).
  • To learn more about the Breast Cancer Research Stamp and how Elizabeth Betsy Mullen and David Goodman helped Dr. Bodai make it a reality, please visit http://www.winabc.org/

Updated: September 2004

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