First Lady Dr. Jill Biden takes part in panel discussion at VCU

Updated: Feb. 24, 2021 at 7:41 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - First Lady Dr. Jill Biden traveled to Richmond on Wednesday to meet with scientists, doctors and community leaders at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Dr. Biden toured VCU’s Massey Cancer Center to learn how researchers and doctors are working to address cancer disparities.

“This facility is amazing,” Biden said. “When I see the research here, what’s going on, with cancer and how you’re really trying to address the health disparities in our country – it’s about time we started getting really serious about this.”

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the term cancer disparities refers to “differences in cancer outcomes (e.g., number of cancer cases, related health complications) across population groups.”

For example, the NCI has found African-American women are twice as likely as white women to be diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer and are increasingly more likely than white women to die from breast cancer.

The NCI works with leadership at the Massey Cancer Center, aiding in its efforts for diversity in clinical trials and mission for health equity.

“Nothing will stop us to do what President Biden himself said recently, which is ending cancer as we know it,” said Norman “Ned” Sharpless, M.D. Director of the National Cancer Institute. “So, nothing will stop us in pursuit of that goal.”

Following a tour of the facility, Biden took part in a panel discussion on the topic of cancer disparities.

Panelists spoke of disparities impacting the minority populations and those living in rural areas. The First Lady believes the efforts from churches in those communities have helped rectify those issues.

“You are the centers; it’s all about trust, it’s all about trust,” she said. “I think that the communities of color, they trust you, and now I think it’s important that they learn to trust the federal government again because we want to partner.”

Biden also believes the COVID-19 pandemic helped shine a major spotlight on health disparities across the country.

She said the work Massey Cancer Center is doing to spread awareness and education is something other institutions need to take note of, including its Facts & Faith Fridays group.

“This group reminds us that you don’t have to have a medical degree to help, you just have to reach out to the people who are hurting,” Biden said.

She was last in Richmond in September to promote and discuss early voting in Virginia.

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