Jill Biden visits breast cancer survivors in Broward, urging people to get screened

By Devoun Cetoute for the MIAMI HERALD

First Lady Jill Biden, right, hugs Patricia ‘Trish’ Gainer Gaddis, a woman with breast cancer, during a tour of the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Plantation, Fla. As part of the Biden Administration’s Cancer Moonshot and to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, First Lady Jill Biden visited the center to highlight breast cancer survivorship. MATIAS J. OCNER mocner@miamiherald.com

First lady Jill Biden embraced breast cancer survivors and the medical teams behind their recovery during her Saturday trip to the University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center ahead of National Mammography Day and to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Biden arrived at the cancer center in Plantation around 11:45 a.m. with U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a breast cancer survivor, and Dr. Monica Bertagnolli, who was recently named director of the National Cancer Institute.

Among a group of people waiting for Dr. Biden in the lobby, which was decorated in pink with handmade paper flowers, was Karen Amlong, a survivor who just got the news last week that she was breast cancer-free. She told Biden that cancer has been a prevalent part of her family history, as her mother, husband and two sons have all suffered from the disease.

Amlong also touched on the work the medical staff has done for her. “These people [the medical staff at the cancer center] are the best,” said Amlong. Dr. Stephen Nimer, director of the cancer center, was also among the introduction party and shared with Dr. Biden the passion that goes into the work at the facility. He specifically touched on a transportation service the center offers for patients in underserved ares of South Florida.

On the next leg of the tour, Biden met with Patricia Gainer Gaddis, who after a close hug with the first lady shared that she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. After having a lumpectomy and believing cancer was in her “rearview mirror”, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic cancer two years later. “At that point, I made the decision to carry on with grace and dignity to accept this choice [and] keep living,” Gaddis said. Gaddis is participating in her first clinical trial with the center partly to give back to the patients behind her and she says she wants “my life extended.”

“I want to see my grandchildren grow up,” she said. “I want to extend my quality of life, so research is important.” Biden and Wasserman Schultz continued on to a briefing in a mammogram room, where the first lady asked several questions of Dr. Monica Yepes, chief of breast radiology at the cancer center, according to reporting by Anthony Man, political writer at the South Florida Sun Sentinel.. Biden said she’d been reading about issues with breast cancer for women with dense breast tissue and wondered if MRIs were the appropriate screening and whether treatment is covered by insurance. Dr. Yepes said ultrasound is the first screening in such cases; if a woman has other risk factors, an MRI might be appropriate. During the final remarks of her tour, she touched on President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot mission, which was launched in 2016 and is working toward accelerating the rate of progress against cancer through advocacy and research. “We are bringing together scientists, business leaders and advocates from across the country and around the world,” she said. “Our goal is to transform cancer care and save lives. We’re doing that by making cutting-edge treatments available to patients faster.” Biden also urged people to to get screenings and talk to loved ones about breast cancer. “I know you’re busy. Especially the moms and nanas out there,” she said. “When you are busy taking care of everyone else, it can be hard to take care of you. But mammograms can save your life — and nothing on your to-do list is more important than that!


Miami Herald Real Time Reporter Devoun Cetoute covers breaking news, Florida’s coronavirus pandemic and general assignment. He’s a graduate of the University of Florida and grew up in Miami. Theme parks, movies and cars are on his mind in and out of the office.

This article was first published in the Miami Herald.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email