Jill Biden comforted Mary J. Blige on Monday after the famed singer-songwriter offered a deeply personal account of loss in an appeal to expand cancer screenings.
The exchange played out as Ms. Blige joined the first lady at the White House to launch the American Cancer Society’s National Roundtable on Breast and Cervical Cancer.
“I lost aunts, not an aunt, but several family members to breast cancer, a grandmother to cervical cancer, lung cancer and it just keeps going on and on and on,” Ms. Blige said while choking up. “I’m convinced that if all my aunts, my godmothers my grandparents had seen campaigns like this … they would have a different outcome today.”
Mrs. Biden comforted Ms. Blige following her remarks, holding her hand as the two sat together onstage.
‘“Thank you for lending your powerful voice to this cause,” Mrs. Biden said.
Ms. Blige said her experience has led her to dedicate time and resources toward increasing awareness of the importance of preventative screenings for cancer and to help blunt the pronounced impact cancer has on Black women.
“There are … misconceptions about mammograms for Black women,” she said. “May fear a cancer diagnosis and becoming a burden on the family if diagnosed. And while the screening rate for Black women and White women are comparable, Black women are more likely to be screened at lower resource facilities and also experience longer intervals between detection, diagnosis and treatment.”
Monday’s event brought together medical professionals, patient advocates, survivors and public health agencies to promote progress in treating and curing cancer and improving the lives of those impacted by cancer diagnoses.
The American Cancer Society estimates that 1.9 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed 609,360 people will die of cancer diseases in 2022 alone.
Cancer is deeply personal for the president, who lost his adult son to brain cancer in 2015. Under his Cancer Moonshot, the White House is aiming to cut cancer fatalities by 50% over the next 25 years and improve the lives of cancer patients.