The Biden administration’s initiative to boost cancer prevention and treatment received a dose of celebrity support Monday when singer Mary J. Blige joined Jill Biden and the American Cancer Society (ACA) to announce national breast and cervical cancer meetings.
The ACA pledged to convene the events after US President Joe Biden and the first lady resurrected the Cancer Month initiative this year. The program provides more money for research to, as Jill Biden said, “help end cancer as we know it. Forever.”
R&B superstar Blige said she lost aunts and other family members to breast, cervical and lung cancer. She promoted breast cancer screening, particularly among black women, who are disproportionately affected by the disease, through the Black Women’s Health Imperative.
On Monday, Blige blamed misconceptions about mammograms among black women and “the practice of not wanting other people in our business” for disparities in breast cancer outcomes between blacks and whites.
She said she is convinced that if her aunts, godmother and grandparents had been told about the cancer, “they would have had a different outcome today.” She paused several times to keep her composure.
The first lady reached out to Blige as the Grammy-winning singer returned to her seat. They sat holding hands for several minutes before Biden thanked Blige for “lending his powerful voice to this cause.”
In 2015, the Biden family mourned the death of Beau Biden, who died of brain cancer. He was the eldest son of the US president with his late first wife, Nilia Hunter Biden, who died in a car accident in 1972.
Jill Biden said Monday that the administration’s cancer initiative will help spur collaboration and research, invest in new treatments and therapies, and help people get the best care and support for their loved ones.
The ACA said the roundtables will bring together doctors, scientists and other experts along with leading organizations. Breast cancer is the leading cancer in women and the number one cause of death among black and Latino women.
The first lady’s cancer advocacy began in the 1990s, after four of her friends were diagnosed with breast cancer.