WASHINGTON — First lady Jill Biden took her husband’s unity agenda to an unlikely venue on Monday, when conservative cable station Newsmax aired an interview with her about cancer research.
Curing cancer is a central goal for President Joe Biden, whose eldest son, Beau, died from a brain tumor seven years ago. Last month he urged Americans to embrace a “moonshot” initiative to reduce deaths, one of several objectives that he hopes crosses party lines in today’s divisive political environment.
“It’s not a red issue, a blue issue,” the first lady told Newsmax. “Cancer affects every American.”
It was a friendly conversation on a channel that’s better known for its excoriations of the president and his fellow Democrats. Newsmax is also facing a lawsuit for broadcasting false claims about voter manipulation. The channel has denied wrongdoing.
The interview was conducted by Nancy Brinker, who hosts a show on the cable channel and founded the breast cancer organization Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The organization is named for Brinker’s sister, who died of cancer.
Biden and Brinker have known each other for years, and they previously teamed up in Palm Beach, Florida, for a June 23 event on cancer screening. They spoke on Saturday at the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the interview is being aired during breast cancer awareness month.
Biden said four of her friends were diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993, and one of them died. She said the experience drover her to create the Biden Breast Health Initiative, which educated young girls in Delaware about breast health.
“Early detection is the key, because if you catch it early, you have so much better chance of surviving breast cancer,” Biden said.
She encouraged people to catch up on any cancer screenings that they delayed during the coronavirus pandemic.
“More people are going back and they’re realizing, gosh, I forgot to get my colonoscopy,” she said. “I didn’t get my mammogram. I didn’t get my skin screening.”
Biden talked about the impact of Beau‘s death, describing how the tragedy had shaken her faith.
“I didn’t give up hope, ever, until he took his last breath,” she said. When that happened, “I had this empty, angry feeling.”
Biden said years later, a woman approached her at a church in South Carolina and said, “I want to be your prayer partner.”
She credited that relationship in helping to restore her faith.
“I felt like it was God’s way of saying to me, OK, you come back,” Biden said.
During the interview, Brinker asked Biden, “How do you deal with the intensity of all the media?”
“I don’t know,” Biden replied. “I guess you learn to sort of take it in your stride. You can’t be affected by the negativity of a lot of it.”