Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Supporting Breast Cancer Research in October

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and the Postal Service is showing their support with a stamp.

By law, 70 percent of the net amount raised from the sale of the stamp goes to the National Institutes of Health and 30 percent goes to the medical research program at the Department of Defense.For each booklet of the stamp sold, $2.20 is donated to help find a cure for breast cancer. More than 1 billion breast cancer semi-postal stamps have been sold to date since is issuance, with $7.41 million raised for research.

Stamps that highlight sensitive social issues are often extremely difficult to design, especially stamps that focus on diseases. In late 1997, U.S. Postal Service art director Ethel Kessler, herself a breast cancer survivor, began experimenting with concepts involving photographs and the pink ribbon that symbolizes breast cancer awareness. But when the preliminary designs proved to be far too somber, she decided to explore fresh approaches by enlisting illustrator Whitney Sherman of Baltimore, Maryland.

Sherman developed numerous pencil sketches and color studies showing women in various poses, all of them intriguing; however, one design really stood out. It pictured a woman reaching above and behind her, as if preparing to conduct a breast self-examination. Mindful of mythology, Sherman remembered Diana, goddess of the hunt—a strong, independent, survival-minded figure—and the artwork developed into a depiction of the goddess reaching for an arrow. Kessler and Sherman finalized this heroic and hopeful image by removing a target from the figure’s right breast and encircling the area with a concise phrase. The text complemented the visuals and clearly encapsulated the message of the stamp: “Fund the fight. Find a cure.”

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