by Dennis Dalman
A Sartell postal customer named Phil, a man in his 70s, was the first person to buy a sheet of breast-cancer stamps Oct. 1, the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The man told postal clerk Kaye Wenker he likes to buy those stamps. His sister, he said, died of breast cancer when she was only 32. That was more than 40 years ago.
“She would probably be alive today because of all the new research and treatments,” Phil told Wenker, who agreed.
Wenker and other postal employees promote the sale of breast-cancer stamps every October, although they are available year-round. For the past three years, the Sartell Post Office has been honored as the top seller of breast-cancer stamps in the Northland District, which covers nearly half the state.
“It’s all due to the generosity of people in Sartell,” said postmaster Terry Niehaus. “People are just so very generous.”
Last year, the Sartell Post Office sold $1,800-worth of those stamps. Each stamp costs 55 cents, one dime more than an ordinary first-class stamp. A sheet of 20 stamps costs $11, which is $2 more than a sheet of other stamps. Ten cents from the sale of each stamp goes to breast-cancer research. Since the inception of the stamps in 1998, their sales have generated $75.5 million. Of that amount, 75 percent went to the National Institute of Health and 25 percent was given to the Medical Research Program at the National Department of Defense.
“It’s really amazing,” Wenker said. “It just goes to show that a little bit can mean so much. That little bit makes a lot of difference. And it’s such an easy way to donate.”
Last October, the Sartell Post Office sold 3,200 individual breast-cancer stamps. Throughout the Northland Postal District, $52,000-worth of the stamps were sold, Niehaus noted.
“So far, we’re on track to meet or exceed our sales of last October,” she said.
Although there have been great strides made against breast cancer, the disease is still a killer. Last year, there were more than 230,000 cases of breast cancer diagnosed in the United States. Deaths from breast cancer last year were close to 40,000 women nationwide. Only lung cancer accounts for more deaths of women. The good news is nearly three million American women have fought breast cancer – and won the battle.
Breast cancer can also strike men. Last year, there were 2,140 cases reported.
The key to beating breast cancer, as in all cancers, is early detection, which means women especially should get a mammogram at least once a year. They should also learn how to do self-breast exams.