Good afternoon, happy autumn, and welcome to our continuing coverage of First Lady Jill Biden’s September 2023 visit to Seattle.
The NPI team is here at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, where Dr. Biden just completed a campus tour and spoke to reporters about the Biden-Harris administration’s Cancer Moonshot, an initiative which holds personal significance for them given their late son Beau’s battle with cancer.
“Accelerating the fight against cancer is a core component of the President’s Unity Agenda, a set of priorities that Americans from every walk of life can support,” the White House says. (Cascadia Advocate readers may recall that the President emphasized the Unity Agenda in his last State of the Union address.)
“Since the start of the Administration, the First Lady has participated in more than forty Cancer Moonshot engagements and has visited sixteen cities in almost a dozen states. This includes a visit to the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center in Broward County, Florida last October to highlight breast cancer survivorship.”
The First Lady’s office noted in an advance press briefing for reporters that Dr. Biden’s advocacy for cancer education and prevention began in 1993, when four of her friends were diagnosed with breast cancer.
Following that year, she launched the Biden Breast Health Initiative to educate Delaware high school girls about the importance of cancer prevention.
Naturally, her advocacy and enthusiasm for defeating cancer continues today.
The First Lady’s visit to Fred Hutch began with a tour of the laboratory of Dr. Cyrus Ghajar. Dr. Ghajar and a few members of his research team briefed Dr. Biden on their work. Their research focuses on metastatic breast cancer among breast cancer survivors and is supported with a Department of Defense grant.
The First Lady was accompanied on the tour by several guests: King County Executive Dow Constantine, Dr. Thomas Lynch, President and Director of Fred Hutch, and Leigh Morgan, Chair of the Board of Directors of Fred Hutch.
According to pool reporter Elise Takahama, Biden looked through a microscope to see bone marrow samples from breast cancer patients, and spoke with lab researchers about how they use various markers to profile patients’ cells.
Later, Dr. Biden spoke with a group of Fred Hutch scientists, and a breast cancer survivor, about next steps in pediatric oncology, cancer survivorship and decreasing the financial burden of care.
Dr. Biden agreed that prevention is key and that after the rate of cancer screenings fell during the pandemic, “We’ve got to catch up.”
Lynch and Biden then joined a Fred Hutch team for a listening session which was attended by representatives of many media organizations, including NPI.
- Dr. Scott Baker, Director of the Fred Hutch Survivorship Program
- Dr. Nancy Davidson, Fred Hutch’s Executive Vice President of Clinical Affairs
- Leah Marcoe, Breast Cancer Survivor
- Dr. Veena Shankaran, Co-Director of the Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research
- Dr. Rachel Yung, Associate Professor in the Clinical Research Division
- Dr. Douglas Hawkins, Chair of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) and Clinician at Seattle Children’s
Biden offered introductory remarks from the podium before joining the Fred Hutch team in a set of easy chairs for a discussion.
“Of all the things cancer steals from us, time is the cruelest. We can’t afford to wait another minute for better solutions, better treatments, better cures,” Biden told the Fred Hutch team and the assembled media representatives.
“That’s why my husband, President Biden, and I reignited the Biden Cancer Moonshot – our White House initiative to build a world where cancer is not a death sentence. Where we stop cancer before it starts. Where we catch it early and help people live longer, healthier, happier lives. Where we invest in innovative research and help patients and their families navigate this journey.”
“For survivors, that journey doesn’t end when they are declared “cancer free.” Side effects from treatment and the constant fear of that next doctor’s appointment linger through remission. But with research and the right care for survivors, we can mitigate those side effects and help ease those fears.”
“That’s what’s happening here at Fred Hutch, where researchers are working to prevent breast cancer from coming back and metastasizing in survivors, and where clinicians are supporting survivors with quality care that’s designed to meet their unique needs,” the First Lady emphasized.
This post will be updated.