Illustrator Puts Her Stamp on Breast Cancer

by Heidi Blalock
Breast Cancer Stamp      JANUARY’S a time for making--and breaking--New Year’s resolutions.
     Radnor-Winston artist Whitney Sherman has a suggestion for a resolution that won’t strain your muscles, deprive your sweet tooth, or cause financial heartache.
     In fact, honoring this New Year’s resolution could cost you as little as 40 cents--the price of a single Breast Cancer Research Stamp at your local post office.
     Sherman created the illustration for the 40-cent first-class stamp, the first of its kind issued to raise money for research into disease prevention and treatment.
     Inspired by Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt, Sherman’s art captures the spirit of a strong, independent woman reaching in her quiver for an arrow. Women will immediately identify the stance as one they might use during breast self-examination.
     The stamp made its national debut this summer, just in time for the flurry of activity surrounding National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.
     Though it received a good bit of attention initially, Sherman wants to keep this stamp and, more importantly, the push for a cure, in the public’s consciousness through July 2000, when the stamp will no longer be available.
     “I’ve had people tell me that every letter they send for the next two years will have a breast cancer stamp,” she says. “Most people won’t want to make a two-year commitment, but they can do it for a month. Even just one stamp would have a huge impact.”
     The U.S. Postal System has printed 200 million of the jewel-toned stamps, double the typical press run for a commemorative stamp. With eight cents of every stamp going toward research, that’s $16 million toward a cure--if all the stamps sell.
     To date, approximately 45 million stamps have been sold, raising so far $3.6 million for breast cancer research.
     Sherman, who in addition to being the principal of Whitney Sherman Illustration, is on the faculty of Maryland Institute, College of Art, has participated in a number of stamp signings and breast cancer awareness events since the stamp was issued.
     Describing the scene at The Revlon Run/Walk for Women in Los Angeles last May, where the stamp was unveiled, Sherman grows solemn. “It was a sea of bald heads [from chemotherapy], pink scarves and hats, and memory cards... The sheer volume of people you could see whose lives have been touched by breast cancer was extremely powerful.”

Copyright © 2003 The Baltimore Chronicle and The Sentinel. All rights reserved. We invite your comments, criticisms and suggestions.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on Jan. 6, 1999.