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Fund the Fight: Help Stamp Out Breast Cancer!

Fund the fight, buy breast cancer stampsThe "Fund the Fight, Find a Cure" semi-postal stamp was first 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 $0.55 instead of the normal $0.42 for a first class stamp. The additional $0.13 goes to the National Institutes of Health and the Defense Department to help fund breast cancer research.

The mission to convince the United States government to approve the Breast Cancer Research Stamp was complicated for Dr. Bodai. In 1996, Dr. Bodai and breast cancer research advocates sent over 200 letters to U.S. Senators and House Representatives, encouraging them to consider the Breast Cancer Research stamp. The letters represented support from over 150,000 people since it is estimated that one person will write his/her Congressman for every 10,000 people who share a particular view. Dr. Bodai also enlisted the support of then presidential cabinet member Donna Shalala, cabinet secretary for Health and Human Services.

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.

Thanks to Dr. Bodai's efforts, several other countries have also issued breast cancer stamps, including Hungary, Belize, Grenada, Gambia, Kenya, and Micronesia. In addition, over 45 other are considering issuing the stamp to help fund research.

Many research studies on new drug treatments and other minimally invasive breast cancer therapies rely on funding from breast cancer support organizations. To date, over $54 million has been raised through sales of the breast cancer stamp to fund research.

Breast Cancer Research Stamps (55ยข each), pane of 20, Item #503240, $11.00

Additional Resources and References

  • Breast Cancer Research stamps may be ordered at local U.S. Post Offices or online at

Updated: October 1, 2008