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July 29, 1998

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First Lady
July 29, 1998

We are facing a critical juncture in the war on cancer -- a time when our nation's investment in research is beginning to pay off and cancer rates are beginning to decline.

With further investment, we can even anticipate the day that our children won't live in fear of this dreaded disease.

Dr. Richard Klausner, the director of the National Cancer Institute, says there's a "palpable optimism" within the cancer community. "The 1990s," he predicts, "will be remembered as the decade when we measurably turned the tide against cancer."

It is not only the doctors and scientists who have brought us to this point, but also thousands of advocates and volunteers whose dedication and passion have helped to raise awareness and increase funding for ongoing research.

Two such advocates are Dr. Ernie Bodai and Betsy Mullen. They fought for the creation of a postal stamp to raise funds for the fight against breast cancer -- a stamp that I was honored to unveil at the White House -- and which goes on sale around the country -- this week.

The release of the Breast Cancer Research Stamp marks the first time the U.S. Postal Service has issued a stamp that costs more than its face value -- 40 cents in this case, eight cents more than a typical first-class stamp. The net proceeds will be used to fund breast cancer research.

Legislation authorizing the issuance of this historic stamp builds on my husband's long record of support for research and prevention in order to conquer breast cancer, a horrible disease that claims an American woman's life every 12 minutes and costs this country $10 billion a year to treat.

In 1993, in response to the 2.6 million signatures collected by the National Breast Cancer Coalition, this administration crafted the National Action Plan on Breast Cancer -- a strategy designed to eradicate the disease.

The President also fought for the expansion of Medicare coverage to help fund annual mammogram screenings for beneficiaries over age 40. And he secured increases in breast cancer research funding from $276 million in 1993 to over $500 million today. Recent research has contributed to dramatic breakthroughs, such as the discovery of two breast cancer genes and the trial of tamoxifen, a drug with the potential to prevent breast cancer.

Understanding that the pace of medical discovery is no longer limited by science or imagination, but only by financial resources, my husband has requested budget increases that would see funding for NIH's cancer research grow by 65 percent over the next five years.

We know that victory over cancer will be brought about by a dedicated partnership of scientists and advocates. Over the course of the next few months, the President and I will welcome a number of these advocates to the White House many of whom have fought cancer themselves or watched loved ones suffer without hope of a cure.

"Today's" Katie Couric, whose husband, Jay Monahan, died of colon cancer in January, along with Good Housekeeping magazine, will help launch a campaign to promote prevention and awareness of colon cancer, the second leading cause of cancer-related death in this country.

I'm also working with Liz Tilberis, the editor of Harper's Bazaar magazine, to plan events designed to inform women about ovarian cancer. Liz has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, which is expected to kill 14,500 American women this year, and causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.

Financier and prostate cancer survivor Michael Milken is one of the sponsors of a march on Washington this September aimed at focusing national attention on the magnitude of the cancer problem in our country. The march, called "Coming Together to Conquer Cancer," has been endorsed by over 250 organizations, including The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship and the American Cancer Society. General Norman Schwartzkopf, also a survivor of prostate cancer, is the honorary chairman.

Ernie Bodai, Betsy Mullen, Katie Couric, Liz Tilberis, Michael Milken and Norman Schwartzkopf, along with thousands of other men and women, have dedicated their talent and their resources to the cause. Now it's time for all of us to join them.

We can buy stamps, attend marches and learn about prevention. We can regularly undergo the diagnostic tests that catch cancer in its early stages. We can take better charge of our own health by improving our diets and giving up smoking. And we can support the increased research and funding that will lead us to a time when America's children will never again live in fear of this awful killer.


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Disease Prevention and Research

July 29, 1998

June 10, 1998