First Lady Jill Biden spent part of her Bay Area visit Friday touring the University of California San Francisco's (UCSF) Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center for a close look at local efforts to battle breast cancer
U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier and other elected officials accompanied Biden on the tour, which the First Lady's office said was to highlight the Cancer Moonshot initiative of her husband, President Joe Biden, as well as to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The initiative seeks to cut the death rate from cancer by at least 50% over the next 25 years.
The First Lady shared personal stories including the story of four friends who were diagnosed with breast cancer at the same time.
“My journey continued in the cancer space with both my parents, my sister and of course, the loss of our son," Biden said. "So, it is personal and I think that makes us even more more passionate because we have gone through this journey."
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Friday’s discussion including not only doctors and researchers but also patients.
“When Dr. Esserman called to tell me that a round of injections had apparently reversed my early stage breast cancer in a matter of weeks, I was elated and I told her. Then, I would love to talk to people about my experience,” said patient Penny Marienthal.
She said how her case was handled was key in getting her from a frightening diagnosis to a place of hope and confidence.
“I think you’re pretty brave because I think at least it’s hard to go through all the treatments you have to go through in having the disease of cancer and then, to be asked to be in a clinical trial takes a lot of courage, because you have been through so much already,” Biden said.
This was Biden’s first trip to the campus as first lady. But not her first visit. She had a similar tour back in 2016.
Biden then joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's Women's Lunch and Issues Conference at the Fairmont San Francisco Hotel in the city's Nob Hill neighborhood.
According to pool reports, Biden talked about how "extremist Republicans are passing state laws that prevent women from getting the health care they need," and recounted her mother allowing her friend to recover at their family's home after getting an abortion in the late 1960s.
"Secrecy. Shame. Silence. Danger. Even death. That's what defined that time for so many women," she said.
The First Lady was going to travel to the state of Washington following her visit to the Bay Area.
Bay City News contributed to the report.