Sealed With A Kiss
Eugene Platt eclipses 25,000 commemorative stamps purchased
By Charlie Morrison
To those stricken by the disease, cancer is very personal. Just as personal is the experience of how family members cope with the disease or a loss of a loved one. Some write books, others run 5Ks, others donate their time and money. Eugene Platt buys stamps.
Since losing his wife Mary to breast cancer in March of 2003, the local poet and James Island Public Service District Commissioner has made an annual pilgrimage to local post offices to purchase thousands of dollars of the now .55-cent Breast Cancer Awareness stamps the U.S. Post Office first offered to the public in 1998.
Monday, Oct. 1 Platt kicked off Breast Cancer Awareness Month by making his 10th and final pilgrimage, this time to the James Island Post Office on Folly Road, where brought his decade-long mission to raise awareness of breast cancer to a fitting end.
After hitching a ride to the Post Office on a James Island PSD fire engine, Platt purchased 3,366 of the .55-cent stamps ($1,851.30) and rounding out his ten-year total to more than 25,000 stamps and more than $13,000 in total stamps purchased, with .11 cents from each stamp directly going to breast cancer research.
“In our society, people like nice round numbers,” says Platt of his decision to bring his symbolic stamp purchase tradition to its finality after 10 years. “As important as anything is to do something to raise awareness, but I think sometimes a good thing … you can try to milk too much benefit out of it. I just thought that this was a good time to quit. I feel like I’ve done my part.”
Ten years later, Platt remains contented with his choice to support the U.S. Postal Service’s Breast Cancer Awareness Stamp program. “From the very first year, in 2003, I went to them and they were very enthusiastic. If they hadn’t been so very enthusiastic I probably wouldn’t have continued with my effort,” he says.
Platt both uses personally and donates the stamps and is quick to note that each use of the visually appealing stamp offers another reminder of the potential affects breast cancer has on peoples’ lives. For his part, the program has brought him some peace, some satisfaction.
“It’s been emotionally satisfying to have the sense of doing something good when there’s no obligation to do. The response to it, overall, has been very gratifying and I would like to think that, over the 10 years, at least one woman who otherwise would not have thought about getting a mammogram followed through with that and it saved her life,” says Platt. “That’s a good feeling.“
I’m encouraged to see that people who’ve been diagnosed with cancer, particularly breast cancer, are living longer and the cures are less gruesome. The treatment is, in some cases as bad as the disease, but in any case the treatment has improved and women who have been diagnosed are living longer, getting earlier diagnoses,” he continues.
Mary Platt was herself tightly involved with the medial industry that her husband continues to support, .11 cents at a time, with his stamp purchases. The former X-ray technician earned a Bachelor’s of Health Services Degree in 1993, followed by a Master’s of Science Degree in Health Professions Education, in 1999. “I was very, very proud of her,” says Platt of his late wife’s accomplishments.
And while on Monday his official promotion of the cause to fight breast cancer came to an end, Platt assures that his devotion to breast cancer research and awareness will not ever end. That being said, 10 years and 25,000 stamps later, Platt’s mission to raise awareness of the deadly effects of breast cancer is has come full circle. And while the public has largely embraced his effort, Platt remains assured that he has done right by the most important person involved, his late wife. “I think Mary would be beaming,” he says.