First lady discusses cancer ‘moonshot’ at Fred Hutch

Fred Hutch/UW/Seattle Children’s Cancer Consortium researchers (from left) Drs. Nancy Davidson, Veena Shankaran, Doug Hawkins, Rachel Yung (second from right) and Scott Baker (far right) met with the first lady, Jill Biden, (center, in green) on Sept. 25 to discuss the Cancer Moonshot at Fred Hutch. Leah Marcoe, a Seattle breast cancer survivor, (beside Biden), was invited to share her story with the first lady.

The first lady, Jill Biden, visited the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center this fall, discussing the Biden Cancer Moonshot with Fred Hutch President and Director Dr. Thomas J. Lynch Jr. and other scientists. They also toured the lab of Cyrus Ghajar, a researcher working on an ambitious initiative to prevent metastatic cancer, the only kind that is not curable.

This marked the first visit to Fred Hutch for the first lady, but not for the Biden family. President Joe Biden visited Fred Hutch in March 2016 as part of his listening tour for the just-launched Cancer Moonshot.

“There are 18 million cancer survivors across our country, and thanks to the amazing work being done right here, we’re adding to that number each day,” Jill Biden said in her opening remarks. “I‘ve seen what’s possible when we invest in cutting-edge research. And I’ve seen that there’s so much hope to be found. I saw that hope here today as well. Your work will change lives and save lives.”

In her remarks, Biden asked researchers, clinicians and others at Fred Hutch to embrace the necessary urgency and “lean in a little more” on behalf of all the patients and families affected by cancer.

“Of all the things cancer steals from us, time is the cruelest,” she said. “We can’t afford to wait another minute for better solutions, better treatments, better cures. That’s why my husband, President Biden, and I reignited the Biden Cancer Moonshot, 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, happier, healthier lives. Where we invest in innovative research and help patients and their families navigate this journey.”

At a listening session with the first lady, medical oncologist Dr. Veena Shankaran, co-director of the Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research, praised President Biden’s plan to ban medical debt from credit reports.