Jill Biden on Friday brought pizza to the crew of the USS Gabrielle Giffords, served dessert to military kids and talked about her recent skin cancer scare as she urged people to get annual screenings.
The first lady had a packed schedule on the first day of her three-day trip to California, which focused on her favorite causes: her Joining Forces program and the Bidens’ Cancer Moonshot initiative. She’ll cap it off with an appearance at Grammy Awards on Sunday night.
She arrived in San Diego on Friday afternoon to visit a cancer clinic ahead of World Cancer Day, which is on Saturday.
The cancer fight is personal to the Biden family. The first lady recently had a skin cancer scare of her own, having Mohs surgery to remove lesions on her eyelids and chest. She was subsequently pronounced cancer free by the White House doctor.
She addressed the issue for the first time on Friday and used her experience to urge people to get cancer screenings of their own.
‘Cancer touches us all – the Bidens are no exception. You know, I’ve lost several family members to cancer. And, actually I just recently had a bout with cancer myself that I’ve just experienced,’ she said.
Jill Biden, center right, speaks with Cmdr. Phillip Herndl, commanding officer of USS Gabrielle Giffords, during a tour of the ship
President Joe Biden and Jill Biden restarted their Cancer Moonshot initiative when they entered the White House. It has the goal of reducing the cancer death rate by half within 25 years and improving the lives of people with cancer and cancer survivors.
Their son Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015. But Jill Biden began her advocacy in 1993, when four of her friends were diagnosed with breast cancer.
‘Really early detection is the key and a lot of cancers, a lot of cancers are curable,’ she noted.
‘And people don’t need to be scared like they – I mean, you’re always scared when you hear the word cancer but they don’t need to be afraid like people were 10 years ago, because now things have advanced so far.’
She then made a stop at the San Diego Naval Base to bring pizza to the crew members of the USS Gabrielle Giffords. Biden was headed to a dinner with the crew and their families but wanted to bring food to those who were on duty and couldn’t make it.
She switched her high heels for snazzy blue sneakers so she could climb the ladders as she toured the littoral combat ship.
The ship was named after former Rep. Gabby Giffords, a survivor of gun violence, and is the third Navy ship to be named after a woman.
Jill Biden brought pizza to the sailors on the USS Gabrielle Gifford
Jill Biden, at a cancer clinic in San Diego, talked about her own recent skin cancer scare to urge people to get their screenings
Jill Biden visited the crew of the USS Gabrielle Giffords
She also served dessert to military families
Biden attended its christening ceremony in Alabama in 2015, where she broke a champagne bottle on the bow.
‘I had that bottle in my hand and was just praying it was going to break,’ she said of the ceremony.
She said she became an honorary member of the crew that day: ‘It’s a privilege to call you my community, my military family and it’s wonderful to be here with all of you today.’
She described Gabby Giffords as ‘a woman who never stops fighting with courage and resilience.’
And she mentioned her own military connections – her father served in the Navy and the Bidens’ son Beau who served in the Army National Guard.
She also manned the dessert table – serving goodies to the military families. There were giant chocolate chip cookies, yellow and chocolate cake, mini cupcakes and fruit.
She paused in her food serving to take photos with people who asked. She took a photo with two girls who went to Villinova – which is where Biden got her masters. They made the V for Villinovia sign in the pic.
Annie Rafferty, who was in that photo, is the navigator for the USS Gabrielle Giffords.
The first lady also posed with several children and their parents, including fourth-month old daughter Ellison, who dressed in an adorable sailor outfit.
Jill Biden takes a photo with two girls who went to Villinova – which is where Biden got her masters. They made the V for Villinovia sign in the pic. Annie Rafferty, who is to Biden’s left, is the navigator for the USS Gabrielle Giffords
Jill Biden arrived in San Diego on Friday to start a three-day trip to California
Jill Biden talks to military families as she handed out dessert
Jill Biden christened the USS Gabrielle Giffords in 2015 (her seated left); Gabby Giffords stands next to her husband Mark Kelly at the podium
On Saturday, Biden will visit the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Veteran’s Village of San Diego.
She’ll cap off her trip by presenting at the Grammys on Sunday. Other presenters include Viola Davis, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Billy Crystal, James Corden, Olivia Rodrigo and Cardi B.
She is not the only first lady to appear at the Grammy Awards.
Michelle Obama made a surprise appearance at the Grammys in 2019 and, a year later, won for best spoken word album for the audiobook version of her memoir, ‘Becoming.’
And Hillary Clinton won a Grammy in 1997 for best spoken word album for her book ‘It Takes a Village.’
Comedian Trevor Noah who is hosting this Sunday’s Grammy Awards from Crypto.com Arena in downtown Los Angeles.
The ceremony will include performances by Harry Styles, Bad Bunny, Mary J. Blige, Sam Smith, Lizzo, Brandi Carlile, Luke Combs and Steve Lacy.
Michelle Obama made a surprise appearance at the Grammy Awards in 2019 – above she is with Jada Pinkett, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Lopez, and Lady Gaga backstage at the Staples Center