Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by First Lady Jill Biden at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Thank you, Ashley, clearly you were called to your profession and your story is such a good reminder that small acts of kindness can really save us when we’re going through the hardest times. And now you’re paying that kindness forward for today’s patients. Thank you for that.
It’s wonderful to be back in Tennessee, but especially here at St. Jude.
Like most Americans I’ve known the work of this world-renowned institution, but to see just how special this place is firsthand is simply breathtaking. You all think of everything! And, your research is saving lives.
Marlo, thank you for welcoming us today. It is my honor to stand with you and truly celebrate your father’s legacy.
Congressman Cohen, Mayors Strickland and Harris, and our dear friend, Joyce, thank you for being with us.
Before I begin, I want to say that our hearts are with the families in New Orleans who have been hurt by the storms earlier this week. Please keep those families in your prayers.
Parents—we would do anything to keep our children safe.
That’s why one of the hardest parts of a cancer diagnosis is the paralyzing sense of helplessness.
But here at St. Jude, hearing about so many cutting-edge approaches to this disease, we are reminded that we aren’t helpless. In fact, we’re living in a time of incredible possibility.
Dr. Downing, thank you for showing me around—I’m inspired by the work that happens here.
We can end cancer as we know it. That’s what the Cancer Moonshot is all about.
It’s about listening to patients and survivors and their families, and finding new ways to ease the burden they face.
It’s about delivering new, effective treatments, including for childhood cancers, that turn a diagnosis from a moment of devastation into hope.
And it’s about bringing the brightest minds and fiercest hearts to the table, to learn, and collaborate, and discover together.
St. Jude understands that, and you support the entire family through this process.
With world-class care at no cost, and a tireless commitment to researching treatments and cures for childhood cancers, you have saved countless young lives. You offer healing and hope, care and community, a place of refuge for those facing the worst.
Like all of us, my heart has ached watching videos of Ukraine. The unthinkable bombing of a maternity ward. The theatre sheltering families, turned to debris and dust. Parents weeping over their children’s broken bodies in the streets.
The senselessness of it all is staggering.
That’s why Joe is working night and day to bring the world together to support Ukraine—with diplomacy and crippling sanctions against Russia. In fact, yesterday he attended a NATO Summit to discuss the defense of our Allies.
And today, he’s in Poland, where he met with our troops and humanitarian partners, seeing our efforts on the ground, and learning more about what we, and others, can do to support the Ukrainian people.
As part of our support, Joe announced yesterday that the U.S. will welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainians and others fleeing Russia’s aggression.
But when I learned that St. Jude was working with hospitals in Europe to bring some of the Ukrainian children with cancer and their families here—I felt so proud and I wanted join you in welcoming them. We stand with Ukraine and we’re praying for their families.
So thank you to St. Jude and everyone who helped bring these children to safety.
We often hear that the measure of a society is how we treat our most vulnerable members. We know that we have a responsibility to care for children. But anyone who has held a tiny life—who has looked into those saucer eyes and felt impossibly strong fingers wrap around your own—knows that it is so much more than an obligation.
It is a joy, a gift – the honor of a lifetime.
And, not just our children—but all children. Because inside each one is a world of possibility, of hope, of all the better tomorrows we pray will come.
We owe them an end to cancer as we know it. We owe them safety and health.
We owe them happiness and joy—the chance to be a kid.
Together, we can give them that.