All the marching, lobbying and fund-raising is bearing fruit. Even the U.S. Postal Service is part of the movement, stamping breast-cancer advocacy on every day's mail. A stamp will be introduced at noon today in City Hall with Mayor Rendell and the Post Office Board of Governors participating in the ceremony. The 32-cent breast-cancer awareness stamp sells for 40 cents; the extra 8 cents, expected to total $16 million once the 200 million stamps are sold, goes to research funded through the National Institutes of Health.
In 1975, Linda Creed, the Philadelphia songwriter, was one of the first women to speak publicly about her breast cancer. Linda lost most of her lymph nodes and chest wall in the operating room, and had to wear a bulky prosthesis. She suffered through total hair loss and intense nausea during the harsh chemotherapy.
Today, the Linda Creed Breast Cancer Foundation offers women the hand to hold that Linda and I needed. Trained staff and survivors help women through the stages of treatment, empowering them to retain control of their own healing.
Linda got only one answer to the threat of breast cancer - radical surgery and chemotherapy. Today we have many. Linda would have suffered less today, because of drugs like Zofran that combat nausea. A host of new drugs raises hopes for future treatments.
With one in eight women diagnosed each year, the need for more research is urgent. While breast-cancer advocates are thrilled to see the increase in funds and awareness through the new stamp, we know that the expected $16 million is small, compared to what we need to save lives.
Barbara DeLuca is program director of the Linda Creed Breast Cancer Foundation.