October 29, 2008
Kaiser Permanente Doctor, Who Created Breast Cancer Research Stamp, Extends Efforts Abroad
Ten years after making its historic debut in post offices across America, the breast cancer research stamp – and its creator, Kaiser Permanente surgeon Ernie Bodai, MD – now is helping to deliver hope in some of the most impoverished countries in the world.
The stamp, launched in 1998, has raised more than $65 million for breast cancer research in the United States.
Dr. Bodai, director of Kaiser Permanente's Breast Surgical Services in Sacramento, has been traveling around the world to encourage governments to adopt similar versions of his famous stamp to raise money for education, outreach, and treatment.
So far, his native Hungary adopted a stamp, as did Belize, Micronesia, Grenada, Kenya, Philippines, Romania, Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, Croatia, Serbia, Jordan, and Gambia. Israel, which Dr. Bodai visited last spring, is expected to adopt the stamp in 2009.
Dr. Bodai visited Kosovo earlier this month to celebrate the unveiling of that newly independent nation's breast cancer stamp.
At the same time, an educational documentary funded by the U.S. State Department and featuring interviews with Dr. Bodai made its debut in the Balkan nations.
The purpose of the film, part of which was shot in June at Kaiser Permanente's Point West Medical Offices in Sacramento, is to showcase breast health awareness in the United States, its importance as a global disease, and to educate women about breast cancer.
"Women in the Balkan nations have very little education about breast health and very few have access to screening," Dr. Bodai said.
"Sadly, most women are diagnosed with stages 3 or 4 of the disease. Compare that to our own patients in Northern California, where just over 10 percent of women are diagnosed with stages 3 or 4," he said." My hope is that these countries will be able to raise money to turn these unfortunate numbers around, or at least improve on them."
Dr. Bodai said that developing countries such as Kosovo and Kenya are using their stamps to raise money for education, outreach, and treatment, as opposed to research.
"Unlike the United States and European countries, there is no research infrastructure in many of these developing counties," he said. "The best thing they can do is work toward reducing the numbers of people with the disease by raising awareness."
To learn more about the breast cancer stamp, go to www.curebreastcancer.org , the Web site of Dr. Bodai's nonprofit, CureBreastCancer, Inc.