Breast Cancer

I received the following email urging me to go out and buy postage stamps to fight breast cancer and to forward the message to as many people as I could. This certainly seems like a worthy project and I decided to add it to my section of the WebLetter. But first I went to the US Postal Service website to get more details. I could not find anything about the stamp shown in the photo. There was a Breast Cancer "semi-stamp" shown, but although it cost more than a normal first class stamp, nothing stated that any of the money went to breast cancer research. I found the answer at, "Urban Ledgends Reference Page".

The Email I received:

Please read and pass on. It would be wonderful if 2003 were the year a cure for breast cancer was found!!!!

This is one note I'll gladly pass on. The notion that we could raise $32 million by buying a book of stamps is powerful!

As you may be aware, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The U.S. Postal Service recently released its "Fund the Cure" stamp to help fund breast cancer research. The stamp was designed by Ethel Kessler of Bethesda, Maryland.

It is important that we take a stand against this disease that kills and maims so many of our mothers, sisters, friends. Instead of the normal $.37 for a stamp, this one costs $.45. The additional $.07 will go to breast cancer research. A "normal" book costs $7.40. This one is only $9.00. It takes a few minutes in line at the Post Office and means so much. If all stamps are sold, it will raise an additional $32,000,000 for this vital research! Just as important as the money is our support. What a statement it would make if the stamp outsold the lottery this week. What a statement it would make that we care.

I urge each of you to do two things TODAY:

1. Go out and purchase some of these stamps.
2. E-mail your friends to do the same.

Many of us know women and their families whose lives are turned upside-down by breast cancer. It takes so little to do so much in this drive. Please help!


Origins: Every now and again, a cyber missive turns out to be on the up and up, and this is one such instance. The Breast Cancer Research debuted in U.S. post offices on 29 July 1998. At that time, this first "semi-postal" stamp sold for $8.00 per booklet (compared to $6.80 for a pack of regular first-class postage stamps), with each stamp costing 40¢ each (as opposed to the regular first-class postal rate of 34¢). The additional 6¢ over and above the cost of regular stamps went to breast cancer research (70% to the National Institutes of Health, and 30% to the Medical Research Program of the Department of Defense), and in their first year of issue, these stamps raised $7.8 million for that cause. In March 2002, the price of the breast cancer stamp was raised to 45¢ to keep pace with the three-cent increase (to 37¢) in first-class postage rates.

Periodically, messages circulate warning that the Breast Cancer Research stamp will no longer be available after a specified date:

"When I was in the post office last week buying stamps the clerk told me the Breast Cancer stamp will no longer be sold after July 30th. He told me stamps are only sold for a two-year period of time, that this stamp has raised more than $11 million for breast cancer research, and the July date is the two-year cut off. He suggested that I send in a comment card.

I received a call from the Post Office concerning my comments. The customer service representative told me that letters of support for the stamp are very important right now and could actually make a difference in the Post Office decision."

These messages are generally outdated by the time they reach their audience. The Breast Cancer Research stamp was first issued in July 1998 and was scheduled to go off sale in July 2000, but at that time President Clinton signed legislation to extend its sale for another two years, until July 2002. In November 2001, the sales period of the Breast Cancer Research stamp was again extended, this time until 31 December 2003.

Well, I have purchased the stamps and will be forwarding the message. This may be a small gesture, but it is relatively painless and it may help to save the lives of our loved ones.

Order stamps through the USPS website or at your local post office.


The following was received from the USPS Store in answer to an inquiry about the Breast Cancer stamp. Incidentally, it was answered the same day that the question was asked.

Dear USPS Customer,

Thank you for your interest in the Breast Cancer Research stamp.

This stamp is currently available "online", in the "37-Cent First Class" section titled "Breast Cancer Research". This $0.45 stamp has a postage value of $0.37 with the difference of $0.08 going to fund breast cancer research programs. It is sold in a pane of 20, and the item number on The Postal Store is #503140. This stamp should also be available from most Post Offices and directly from Stamp Fulfillment Services by calling 1 800 STAMP-24 (800-782-6724).

Please read on for more general information.

Through August 8, 2003, the Postal Service has sold over 470 million stamps, raising more than 33.3 million for research!


This type of stamp, where the proceeds partially go to the Postal Service and partially go elsewhere, is called a "Semi-Postal", and in general, semi-postals are prohibited. (For more information on how stamp designs are selected, please visit The Postal Store at Then click on the "Help" link, and then, under General Questions, click on "How are new stamp designs chosen? May I submit my ideas for a new stamp?")

However - the Breast Cancer Research semi-postal was produced because of a direct mandate from the U.S. Congress. Congress authorized the release of this semi-postal and mandated that the stamp was to be issued for a limited period of time.

Thank you for your inquiry.

USPS Internet Customer Care Center