Remarks by the First Lady at an Event to Reignite the Cancer Moonshot

February 02, 2022

Hi -- well, hello. (Applause.) Thank you. (Laughs.) Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. Please be seated.

Gosh, so many friends here. It's so nice to see all of you. And you're getting me so emotional before I have to speak about cancer.

So, anyway, welcome to the White House.

And, you know, certain words have the power to make time stop: Malignant. Aggressive. Terminal. Cancer.

Like a spell, they still the air around us. Frozen in place, we feel the world we knew slipping away. In the span of a breath, a thousand questions fill our minds. "What can I do? How do I tell people? Why did this happen?"

And when the hands of the clock begin to move once again, we are not the person we once were, but someone changed: a mother imagining all of the things she might not be there to teach her daughters, a husband wondering how he will juggle chemotherapy appointments with work and childcare, a son trying to be strong for the parents who could outlive him.

It's not just patients; cancer changes everyone it touches. And in some ways, it touches us all.

For Joe and me, it has stolen our joy. It left us broken in our grief. But through that pain, we found purpose, strengthening our fortitude for this fight to end cancer as we know it. (Applause.)

Almost 30 years ago, four of my friends were diagnosed with breast cancer in one year. And one of my dear friends, Winnie, lost her battle. Winnie inspired me to take up the cause of prevention and education.

And since then, I've seen the darkness of this disease: financial devastation, confusion over care, and far too many families mourning loved ones.

Yet, I've also seen hope.

In just this last year, I met a woman whose life was saved by determined nurses who just wouldn't let her skip her screening.

I met a doctor who was inspired to become a cancer researcher because she survived her own diagnosis as a child.

I've seen people come together from rival companies or opposite political parties, sharing knowledge and finding common cause, united by the chance to save lives.

A cancer diagnosis today may still leave us feeling hopeless, but we are not hopeless and we are not helpless.

We are living in a golden age of research and discovery. We can end this terror, and all of us have a role to play.

Because this isn't just about hoping that one person will decipher the answers alone; it's about listening to patients and survivors and their families, and easing the burden they face.

It's about the individual choices we can make to stop this disease before it's too late: to get screenings, to be vigilant with our health.

It's about federal and state governments, the business community, and non-profit organizations all helping to make those screenings more available and accessible.

It's about bringing the brightest minds and the fiercest hearts to the table to learn and to collaborate and to discover together.

Yes, cancer has the power to rewrite our lives. But we have the power too -- more than we even know. We can stop it in its tracks. We can comfort and discover and dream our way past its paralysis. We can come together and rewrite the story that cancer tells.

Now, as your First Lady, I'm deeply proud to be a partner in the commitments we're making to the Cancer Moonshot today.

We're ensuring that all of our government is ready to get to work. We're going to break down the walls that hold research back. We're going to bring the best of our nation together -- patients, survivors, caregivers, researchers, doctors, and advocates -- all of you -- so that we can get this done.

And I want you to know that I'll be there working right beside you.

So, I'm so honored to welcome all of you here to the White House today to take this next step.

Together, we will give Americans a reason to hope. We will use this power of this White House to make your life better. And we will build a future where the word "cancer" forever loses its power.

Thank you. (Applause.)

Thanks. (Applause.)

Now, it's my pleasure to welcome out next speaker.

Vice President Harris knows the heartache of cancer, but she also knows how much hope can be found in our scientific community. She knows it because she saw it firsthand in her brilliant mother who dedicated her life to researching breast cancer.

Kamala, you honor your mom's memory every single day, but I believe she's especially proud of you today.

Please welcome the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris.

Jill Biden, Remarks by the First Lady at an Event to Reignite the Cancer Moonshot Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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