09/21/2011

Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) today reintroduced bipartisan legislation to award Dr. Ernie Bodai, creator of the Breast Cancer Research Stamp, with the Congressional Gold Medal.

Dr. Bodai, a breast cancer surgeon, successfully launched a campaign in the mid 1990’s to create the stamp. Since that time, almost one billion stamps have been sold in the United States, raising more than $75 million for cutting edge breast cancer research.

“Dr. Bodai’s simple yet profound idea has saved thousands of lives,” Speier said. “As both a surgeon and an advocate, he has been on the front lines of the war against breast cancer. The Congressional Gold Medal is a fitting tribute for all Dr. Bodai has done to improve the health and well-being of our nation.”

“Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women, killing an estimated 40,000 women a year,” said James N. Martin, Jr., MD, President of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “The Congressional Gold Medal is an exceptional way to highlight the strides made with the $75 million raised from the Breast Cancer Research stamps.  Dr. Bodai deserves this award for his far-reaching impact on women’s health, raising much-needed research funds with the goal of one day curing breast cancer.”

“Dr. Bodai has demonstrated an unyielding commitment to breast cancer research and has also used his role as a prostate cancer survivor to increase prostate cancer awareness,” said David Hoyt, MD, FACS, Executive Director of the American College of Surgeons. “His past and continued efforts embody the American College of Surgeons’ dedication to improved quality of care and better outcomes for patients across the country.”

Dr. Bodai became a physician at age 26 and pledged his life to helping others. Recognizing the growing and deadly impact of breast cancer, he became frustrated with the slow pace of funding for research. So he came up with the idea of creating a stamp, dedicating years of his time and more than $100,000 of his own money to lobby for its passage. The Stamp Out Breast Cancer Act was signed into law in 1997, proof that one person really can make a difference. Since the first stamp was unveiled in 1998, tens of millions of dollars has been raised for research into how and why breast cancer cells grow and divide, the causes of breast cancer tumor metastasis and progression and methods to increase early detection.

Dr. Bodai has now undertaken a self-funded global journey which has led to more than 70 countries committing to creating their own stamps. After he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000, he launched a similar effort to benefit research for that disease.

The Congressional Gold Medal is, along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. It is awarded to an individual who performs an outstanding deed or act of service to the security, prosperity, and national interest of the United States.

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