NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — First Lady Jill Biden made an appearance in the Big Easy this week as part of the President’s “Cancer Moonshot” initiative, an effort to reduce cancer-related deaths in the country.

On Friday, the First Lady visited the Louisiana Cancer Research Center in New Orleans alongside U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.), his wife, Dr. Laura Cassidy, and Congressman Troy Carter (D-La.).

The group toured the Louisiana Cancer Research Center facility and was introduced to center directors. The research center is operated by Tulane University, Louisiana State University, Ochsner Health, and Xavier University.

The tour of the center helped emphasize Cancer Moonshot, which aims to reduce the nation’s cancer fatalities by at least 50 percent in the next 25 years. The initiative also encourages medical professionals to work together to not only find ways to cure cancer but address the barriers to early detection.

“We’re building a world where cancer is not a death sentence,” said First lady Dr. Jill Biden.

First Lady Jill Biden’s arrival

CEO and Director of LCRC, Joe W. Ramos expressed excitement about the First Lady’s visit, and feel they are already implementing some of the tenants of the program.

“Louisiana is disproportionately impacted by cancer. And the cancer center provides a collaborative attack on cancer in the state that epitomizes the approach by the cancer moonshot,” said Joe W. Ramos, Director of Louisiana Cancer Research Center.

Ramos told WGNO that the plan is to make sure they bring all hands on deck, every perspective engaged in how do we end cancer as they know it.

In 2016, as Vice President, Joe Biden started his fight toward lowering the cancer death rate through Cancer Moonshot. The initiative’s goal is to reach a 50 percent decrease over the next 25 years.

But it goes beyond just working together. Ramos says its also about the policy aspect, for example, getting people who don’t have health insurance access to screenings and catching cancer early

“Today we met nurses who are part of an incredible pilot program funded by the national cancer institute revolutionizing clinical trial enrollment throughout the southern gulf,” said First Lady Biden.

Congressman Troy Carter and Senator Bill Cassidy also expressed the toll cancer can take.

“We all have felt the wrath of this terrible disease and we all have our personal stories of loved ones that have been afflicted and loved ones who have gone to glory,” said Congressman Troy Carter.

“We have a population prone to both developing cancer and hints to die. We’re trying to address those things that lead to our population having an increased risk,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy.

The First Lady’s visit will also help kick off National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. The American Cancer Society says what used to be considered something that mostly affected older adults, the disease is starting to show up in younger people more frequently.

The president’s proposed budget to increase funding for cancer research is being met with strife from republicans but democrats say they haven’t seen a counter plan for them yet.

If you or anyone you know needs help gaining access to screenings or general cancer information, call Louisiana Cancer Prevention and Control at (800) 599-1073. For more information, visit their website here

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