'Cancer touches all of us': In San Diego, first lady highlights cancer screening, military families

Deborah Sullivan Brennan, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Political News

SAN DIEGO — On a visit to San Diego to highlight the administration’s “cancer moonshot” and initiatives for military families, first lady Jill Biden toured a Logan Heights health clinic Friday to discuss a $100,000 cancer screening grant, before greeting crew members of the USS Gabrielle Giffords warship based at Naval Base San Diego.

“Cancer touches all of us; the Bidens are no exception,” said Biden, who herself had surgery last month to remove a common type of skin cancer and lost a stepson, Beau Biden, to cancer in 2015.

In a roundtable with providers at Logan Heights Family Health Center, she discussed federal efforts to improve cancer screenings and early detection programs for communities with limited health care access.

The administration’s moonshot initiative, which Joe Biden spearheaded while vice president, aims to improve cancer treatments and conditions for patients and to cut cancer death rates in half within a generation. Its goals include resuming screenings missed due to the pandemic, reducing smoking rates and getting more patients into clinical trials.

The first lady began advocating for cancer education and prevention in 1993, when four of her friends were diagnosed with breast cancer, and later launched an initiative to educate Delaware high school girls about the importance of breast cancer prevention. She has called for improving cancer screenings, especially those delayed due to the pandemic.

In September, the moonshot program awarded $100,000 to the health center for health navigators and outreach specialists to promote early detection, boost screenings and guide patients to high-quality cancer care and treatment. On Thursday, the Biden administration announced an $11 million grant to fund similar programs at 22 other clinics throughout the country.


Those services are important to help people unfamiliar with health care systems manage the shock of a cancer diagnosis and the complex decisions that often must follow, the first lady said.

“You hear cancer, and you don’t hear anything else,” she said.

Christopher Gordon, the chief medical officer for Family Health Centers of San Diego, said the grant enables the clinic to help newly diagnosed patients make sense of their treatment options and medical trials and overcome obstacles to care. Clinic officials are measuring how those services affect survival rates and patient outcomes, he said.

“Early detection is the key,” Biden said. “A lot of cancers are curable, and you don’t need to be afraid.”


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