6-foot-tall ribbons to grace town

Public art campaign promotes breast cancer awareness
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Dr. Ernie Bodai looked around the room and made a prediction. If he asked the group of about 90 people to raise their hands if they knew someone who had been diagnosed with breast cancer, every single hand would go up. “You’ll be shocked,” Bodai said. “Everybody knows someone.” Bodai, a breast cancer surgeon for Kaiser Permanente, recently joined Roseville developer Stephen Pease in a campaign to raise awareness about breast cancer in the United States. The two men kicked off the campaign last week at Fat’s Asia Bistro and Dim Sum Bar. The South Placer Art in Public Places campaign includes a public-art component, in which businesses and individuals sponsor local artists to create designs on 6-foot-tall fiberglass ribbons, which will be positioned in spots around Roseville. In the next few months, between 10 and 15 ribbons will be displayed. A ribbon costs $2,500 to sponsor and proceeds benefit Cure Breast Cancer, a nonprofit organization founded by Bodai. One in eight women — or 12.7 percent — in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives, according to the National Cancer Institute. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death for women, after lung cancer, and the most common cause of death in women between the ages of 45 and 55 years old. “Most people understand the prevalence of breast cancer, but it’s amazing how many people are still naïve about the disease,” Bodai said. Bodai is the man behind the Breast Cancer Research postage stamp, which was the first fundraising stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service. The stamp has raised nearly $73 million since its first issue in 1998, with the sale of 900 million stamps in the United States. Fifteen other countries also sell the stamps. The money funds breast cancer research; in developing countries, the funds go toward education, outreach and treatment. Some of the money currently funds a trial genetic test that analyzes genes in the tumors of women diagnosed with breast cancer to predict which patients will respond to chemotherapy, Bodai said. This treatment causes patients to loose their hair, and experience other side effects, such as chronic pain, nausea and vomiting, sores in the mouth and more. “Right now, we’re so archaic in our treatment of breast cancer that everyone diagnosed with breast cancer gets chemotherapy,” Bodai told the group in attendance at Fat’s Asia Bistro. If doctors can identify groups of women that won’t respond to chemotherapy, then some patients would be spared this harsh form of treatment, Bodai said. “That’s huge,” he said. Four years ago, Pease, managing partner of KMS Group — a real-estate company in Roseville — began searching for a charity to support. He had an idea to commission local artists to create art for public places, and he decided to combine this project with his goal of raising money for a charitable cause. “(Last year), we finally decided to do something about it,” Pease said. He started South Placer Art in Public Places and connected with Bodai, whose organization helps women diagnosed with breast cancer by assisting with the cost of prescription medicine, rent or mortgage payments, car loans and more. Pease’s mother is a breast cancer survivor. Just last year, a 33-year-old relative passed away from the disease. “(The campaign) is personal,” Pease said. Pease and Bodai share the same goal that one day they will ask a room full of people if anyone knows a woman diagnosed with breast cancer, and no one will raise their hand. Sena Christian can be reached at ---------- Breast Cancer in the United States: New cases of breast cancer diagnosed in women in 2009: 192,370 Women who died from the disease in 2009: 40,170 Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in women Breast cancer is the most common cause of death in women between the ages of 45 and 55 The United States spends $8.1 billion annually on the treatment of breast cancer Source: National Cancer Institute ---------- For more information about South Placer Arts in Public Places, visit