Iowa has a new “specialty plate” for cars — a breast cancer awareness plate to raise money for mammograms and research. About 50 people — mostly women — crowded into Governor Vilsack’s office as he signed the license plate bill into law. Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of death among women in Iowa. Last year, 525 Iowa women died of breast cancer.It was a bittersweet and moving moment for many, including the top two leaders in the Iowa Senate. Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson’s wife, Jean, died of breast cancer in September, 1999.Jean Iverson’s sister, and Vicki Iverson, his second wife, stood by his side today. Iverson says he’s not a “real emotion guy” but he says he’s been blessed to have “two great ladies” in his life, and he says that’s something you never forget. Senate Democrat Leader Michael Gronstal stood by his wife, Connie, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in November, 2001 after feeling a lump during a self exam. She had a lumpectomy and two rounds of chemo therapy.Connie Gronstal, who is 52, says it’s important for women to do self-exams, and get a mammography if they find something. Mrs. Gronstal says she had no family history of the disease, and the irony is that her older sister found a lump, too, and they had surgery on the same day. Senator Gronstal, with tears in his eyes, said as the Governor was signing the bill, he thought about the past year, and how much he worried about his wife. The new license plate, which carries a higher fee than standard plates, will bear the pink ribbon symbol that’s often worn by breast cancer survivors and their families. Fees generated by sales of the breast cancer license plate will be used to help poor women get mammograms, and if there’s a lot of money raised, some will go to research.
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