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Efforts To Find Cure For Cancer To Be Focus Of First Lady's Trip To Tampa This Week

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TAMPA, FL — First Lady Jill Biden will promote the relaunch of the White House’s efforts to find a cure for cancer when she visits Tampa Thursday and Friday, according to a White House news release.

While details of her visit weren’t available during Monday’s announcement, the White House confirmed that the first lady plans to visit the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa on Friday.

On Feb. 2, President Joe Biden announced the revival of Cancer Moonshot, a program he oversaw as vice president in his final year with the Obama administration. The program provided $1.8 billion in funding over a seven-year period (ending in 2023) to reduce the country’s cancer death rate by 50 percent within 25 years.

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However, Cancer Moonshot was put on hold during the Trump administration.

Biden said he is resurrecting the program and will seek additional funding from Congress.

Find out what’s happening in Tampa with free, real-time updates from Patch.

“Despite the progress of lives extended and lives saved, cancer is still the No. 2 cause of death in America, second only to heart disease,” Biden said.

Both the president and first lady have a personal stake in seeing the goal of Cancer Moonshot realized. Their son, Beau, died of brain cancer in 2015 at the age of 46.

“Certain words have the power to make time stop: Malignant. Aggressive. Terminal. Cancer,” Jill Biden said during the relaunch event. “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?'”

To help come to terms with their son’s death, Biden said she and her husband focused their energies on prevention, education, research and, ultimately, a cure for cancer.

“It’s not just patients; cancer changes everyone it touches,” she said. “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.

“I’ve seen the darkness of this disease: financial devastation, confusion over care, and far too many families mourning loved ones,” Jill Biden said. “Yet, I’ve also seen hope.”

She talked about meeting a woman last year whose life was saved by nurses who refused to let her skip her cancer screening. She also encountered a doctor who was inspired to become a cancer researcher because she survived cancer as a child.

“A cancer diagnosis today may still leave us feeling hopeless, but we are not hopeless and we are not helpless,” she said. “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. We can stop it in its tracks. We can comfort and discover and dream our way past its paralysis.”

The president said the nation’s come a long way since President Richard Nixon signed the National Cancer Act into law 50 years ago.

“We learned cancer is not a single disease. There are over 200 different types of cancer caused by different genetic mutations in our cells,” he said. “We discovered new medicines, therapies, early detection and prevention measures that extend lives and save lives.”

Nevertheless, he said 1.2 million Americans die from cancer every year.

“Despite all the progress, there’s still a sense of powerlessness, guilt that maybe you’re not doing enough because you don’t know enough, and fear,” he said. “So, when President Obama asked me to launch our Cancer Moonshot in our administration, our goal was to bring a new sense of urgency to make the system of prevention, research and patient care to take advantage of the 21st century science and technology.”

Founded in 1986, the nonprofit H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute is Florida’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center. The center has pioneered advances such as CAR T-cell therapy and is known for its cutting-edge research, clinical trials, therapies and treatments.

Patch will bring live coverage of the first lady’s visit to Tampa.

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