Jill Biden brought pizza to the crew of the USS Gabrielle Giffords on Friday, served dessert to military children and spoke about her recent fear of skin cancer as she urged people to get annual checkups.
The first lady had a busy schedule on the first day of her three-day trip to California, centered on her favorite causes: her Jointing Forces program and the Bidens’ Cancer Moonshot initiative. She’ll top it off with an appearance at the Grammy Awards on Sunday night.
She arrived in San Diego on Friday afternoon to visit a cancer clinic ahead of World Cancer Day, which takes place on Saturday.
The cancer battle is personal to the Biden family. The first lady recently became scared of skin cancer herself when she underwent Mohs surgery to remove lesions on her eyelids and chest. She was subsequently declared cancer-free by the White House doctor.
She first addressed the issue on Friday and used her experience to urge people to do their own cancer screening.
“Cancer affects us all – the Bidens are no exception. You know I lost several family members to cancer. And actually, just recently, I had a battle with cancer myself, which I just experienced,” she said.
Jill Biden, center right, speaks with Cmdr. Phillip Herndl, commanding officer of the USS Gabrielle Giffords, during a ship tour
President Joe Biden and Jill Biden restarted their Cancer Moonshot initiative as they entered the White House. It aims to halve the cancer death rate within 25 years and to improve the lives of people living with cancer and cancer survivors.
Her son Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015. But Jill Biden began her legal practice in 1993 when four of her friends were diagnosed with breast cancer.
“Truly early detection is key, and many cancers, many cancers, are curable,” she noted.
“And people don’t have to be scared like they were — I mean, you’re always scared when you hear the word cancer, but they don’t have to be scared like people were 10 years ago because things are so advanced now.”
She then made a stop at the San Diego Naval Base to deliver pizza to the crew members of the USS Gabrielle Giffords. Biden was on his way to a dinner with the crew and their families but wanted to bring food to those on duty who couldn’t make it.
She swapped her heels for chic blue sneakers so she could climb the ladders while touring the littoral battleship.
The ship was named for former Rep. Gabby Giffords, a gun violence survivor, 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 spoke about her own recent skin cancer scare at a San Diego cancer clinic to urge people to get their screenings done
Jill Biden visited the crew of the USS Gabrielle Giffords
She also served desserts to military families
Biden attended his 2015 naming ceremony in Alabama, where she broke a champagne bottle on the bow.
“I had this bottle in my hand and just prayed it would break,” she said of the ceremony.
She said she was made 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 you all 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 and served treats to military families. There were giant chocolate chip cookies, yellow and chocolate cakes, mini cupcakes and fruit.
She paused while serving the food to take photos with people who asked. She snapped a picture with two girls going to Villinova — where Biden got her masters. They made the V for Villinovia sign in the picture.
Annie Rafferty, featured in this photo, is the navigator of the USS Gabrielle Giffords.
The first lady also posed with several children and their parents, including four-month-old daughter Ellison, who wore an adorable sailor outfit.
Jill Biden takes a picture with two girls who went to Villinova – where Biden got her masters. They made the V for Villinovia sign in the picture. Annie Rafferty, to Biden’s left, is the navigator of the USS Gabrielle Giffords
Jill Biden arrived in San Diego on Friday to embark on a three-day trip to California
Jill Biden speaks to military families as she hands out dessert
Jill Biden christened the USS Gabrielle Giffords in 2015 (her left hand seated); Gabby Giffords stands on the podium alongside her husband Mark Kelly
On Saturday, Biden will visit the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic in San Diego’s Veteran’s Village.
She will cap off her journey 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’s not the only first lady to perform at the Grammy Awards.
Michelle Obama made a surprise appearance at the Grammys in 2019 and a year later won Best Spoken Word Album for the audio book version of her memoir, Becoming.
And Hillary Clinton won a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album in 1997 for her book It Takes a Village.
Comedian Trevor Noah hosting the Grammy Awards this Sunday at the Crypto.com Arena in downtown Los Angeles.
The ceremony includes 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 2019 Grammy Awards – above she’s backstage at the Staples Center with Jada Pinkett, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga