The idea behind the stamp originated in California. It came from a Sacramento breast cancer surgeon, Dr. Ernie Bodai, who has treated over 7,000 women with breast cancer. Ernie teamed with Betsy Mullen, a breast cancer survivor from San Diego, and David Goodman, who lost his wife to breast cancer and hails from Orinda, to advocate on behalf of the stamp.
The stamp was designed by Ethel Kessler of Bethesda, Maryland, and illustrated by Whitney Sherman of Baltimore, Maryland. This is the first stamp design by Kessler, who has a personal interest in helping raise awareness about breast cancer as she is a survivor of the disease.
Since 1998, when the stamp was first issued, legislation to reauthorize the stamp has passed seven times. In the 112th Congress, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and I re-introduced legislation to extend the authorization of the Breast Cancer Research Stamp for four additional years – until 2015.
The breast cancer stamp costs 55 cents and is deemed valid as a 45-cent first-class stamp. The additional 10 cents charged for each stamp goes to research. This stamp does not replace the regular priced first class stamp, but simply gives buyers the option to purchase a new stamp to raise funds to fight a cancer that impacts the lives of so many American families. To date, the stamp has raised more than $75 million to find a cure for the disease. More than 930 million stamps have been sold. Seventy percent of the research funds generated by the stamp are directed to research programs at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The remaining 30 percent of the research funds are directed to the Department of Defense breast cancer research program. The breast cancer research stamp was the first stamp in our nation’s history dedicated to raising funds for a special cause. The stamp’s success has inspired other fundraising stamps including the Heroes of 2001 stamp, which raised money for the family of emergency personnel who died or were disabled during the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Despite increases in the last few years, research dollars are still desperately needed to fund cancer research. I pledge to continue my support of this unique postal stamp by championing legislation to ensure the stamp’s reauthorization.