Breast Cancer Research Stamp by Ernie Bodai
The United States Postal Service continues to sell the Breast Cancer Research Stamp, the first semipostal stamp in US history. The stamp, currently costing 45 cents, has the same first class buying power as the normal 39 cent postage stamp. The extra six cents per stamp is donated to breast cancer research in the United States, going to National Institute of Health (NIH) and Medical Research Program of the Department of Defense (DOD).
The idea for the stamp came from Dr Ernie Bodai, director of breast surgical services at Kaiser Permanente‘s hospitals in Sacramento, and author of books, I Flunked My Mammogram (2001), and The Breast Cancer Book of Strength & Courage: Inspiring Stories to See You Through Your Journey.
Bodai, disturbed by decreasing funding for breast cancer research, started to lobby US Postal Service for a fund-raising postage stamp. For a long time the idea was resisted by the Postal Service, with pressure from philatelists compounding concern that the stamp would create a precedent that would be difficult to sustain. Bodai joined forces with a fellow lobbyist, Elizabeth (Betsy) Mullen, and mounted a campaign to convince US Congress and Senate. Finally in 1997, with the support of fellow Californians Senator Diane Feinstein and Representative Vic Fazio, Congress and Senate passed legislation to make it possible for the special stamp to be issued. The stamp was finally issued on July 29, 1998, in Washington D.C.
The breast cancer research stamp was designed by breast cancer survivor Ethel Kessler, of Kessler Design Group in Bethesda, Maryland. The stamp features the words, “Fund the Fight” and “Find a Cure”, and an illustration by Baltimore artist Whitney Sherman. The colourful image features goddess of the hunt Artemis (Greek) or Diana (Roman) with hinting arrow, holding her arm up as if to examine her breast. The colours are intented to present a kaleidoscope of color which symbolically includes all people as this disease knows no boundaries.
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The breast cancer research stamp has been promoted informally through chain emails, which inevitably lose their accuracy as the fund raising figures climb each year. A picture of African women has mistakenly been associated with the breast cancer research stamp campaign.