First lady Jill Biden visits Mays Cancer Center
Mays Cancer Center Annual Report
In February 2022, first lady Jill Biden toured the Mays Cancer Center and praised its efforts in addressing disparities in cancer rates among Hispanics.
The first lady cast her visit as part of the Biden-Harris administration’s Cancer Moonshot initiative, which aims to reduce the death rate from cancer by at least 50% over the next 25 years and improve the experience of patients and their families living with and surviving cancer.
As one of only four National Cancer Institute- Designated Cancer Centers in Texas, the Mays Cancer Center is part of federal efforts to address the disease, including Cancer Moonshot.
Meeting cancer survivors
The first lady toured the infusion center at Mays Cancer Center, where patients are treated and undergo clinical trials. Discussions centered on an effort to reboot cancer screening during the pandemic. Patient Rainee Miller (pictured above) told Biden how that critical outreach led to her diagnosis and subsequent therapy.
The first lady then learned about comprehensive programs that range from nutrition and emotional support to medical services like cardio-oncology and cancer rehabilitation.
Breast cancer survivor Cynthia Orr and her caregiver husband, David, told Biden about innovative surgery she received to treat lymphedema, which had caused severe swelling in her arm. The Mays Cancer Center is one of the few places performing the procedure.
Stressing the need for early detection
The roundtable discussion that followed Biden’s tour focused on detection, screening and access to care.
“Cancer really touches every single one of us, but it doesn’t affect every community in the same way,” Biden said. “And that’s why as a part of the Cancer Moonshot, I’m glad to learn today what we’re doing for the Latino community and what we will continue to do.”
More broadly, the first lady urged people not to let up on cancer detection and treatment. Relating her and President Joe Biden’s personal story of their son Beau’s battle and death from cancer, the first lady said education is key.
“We have to get the word out that people have to get screening, and early detection, and [know] where their cancer centers are and who their patient advocates are,” Biden said. “We’re trying to end cancer as we know it. And I think we can do it.”
One in three Hispanics will face a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime. The first lady’s visit was seen as an important boost to highlighting disparities in access to care and the need for screening and clinical trials.