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First Lady visits Tohono O’odham health clinic

Jill Biden promoting cancer fighting program
Posted at 7:41 PM, Mar 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-08 21:41:35-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The nation’s first lady continued her Tucson visit Tuesday. After arriving Monday evening, her Tuesday schedule brought her to the Tohono O’odham nation to promote the fight against cancer and learn more about the special challenges tribal nations face.

President Joe Biden has promised what he calls a cancer moonshot–an attack on cancer with the same resources and drive that put us on the moon. Tuesday First Lady Jill Biden came to the San Xavier Health Clinic of the Tohono O’odham Nation to look at where the Native American nations fit into that project.

Runners escorted the First Lady’s motorcade as she arrived at the San Xavier Health Center.

A blessing asked for the Creator’s guidance for the administration but also called for help for the people displaced by war in Ukraine.

The First Lady came to the health center to learn more about the special health challenges for native communities.

Tohono O’odham Chairman Ned Norris Junior told the First Lady there are 22 tribes in Arizona and 560 in the entire U.S. He says the Tonono O’odham live in a vast reservation of small, often remote villages—and that can interfere with access to health care.

The First Lady was told tribal members are more prone to certain cancers. Part of the program aims to improve awareness and improve preventive testing.

She says the Cancer Moonshot is part of a commitment she and the President made after one of their sons died of cancer,

“And so Joe is totally committed to this," the First Lady said. "I've been traveling the last couple months all across America, to look at what's new in research, navigators, look at rural programs, look at programs in the cities and of course, I would come here and look at programs for Native Americans.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra accompanied the First Lady on this trip and other tripsworking on the Cancer Moonshot. He says research has already improved cancer survival rates but there’s much more to do.

“So the idea is, take the research, put it on steroids increase it increase, as I just mentioned earlier, the folks who participate in these trials so we know we're targeting well, and we're capturing everyone's own idiosyncrasies and then start working with the University of Arizona where the all the different cancer centers to make sure that not just the services are available but the understanding,” Becerra said.

And Becerra says even with so much conflict in Congress, cancer research is one thing both parties can agree on and vote for the money required to make the program work.