The Washington Post and Other Top Media Outlets Feature CSC on Cancer Patients’ Needs During Meeting with First Lady

January 29, 2021
Whitman-Walker Health CEO Naseema Shafi, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, and CSC Executive Chair Kim Thiboldeaux pose for a photo

From left: Whitman-Walker Health CEO Naseema Shafi, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, and CSC Executive Chair Kim Thiboldeaux (Photo: Lawrence Jackson)

*This blog was updated on February 2, 2021.

As the country continues to grapple with an unprecedented pandemic, the incoming Biden-Harris administration faces a host of critical issues that require its attention. So, it was a very special moment when—on just the second full day of the new administration—First Lady Dr. Jill Biden called upon the Cancer Support Community to tell the story of people living with cancer during COVID-19.

CSC’s Executive Chair Kim Thiboldeaux cohosted the First Lady for a tour of Whitman-Walker Health—a close CSC partner—on Friday, January 22, in Washington, D.C. At the heart of their conversation was the importance of cancer screenings, community-based patient navigation services, and access to care.

The Washington Post highlighted the visit in a news story published on February 2. In the article, Thiboldeaux commented on Dr. Biden’s ongoing concern for cancer patients, as well as her desire to understand their experience on a deep level, including how they’re being affected by COVID-19. “She wants to be educated, she wants to understand… You can feel she cares,” added Thiboldeaux., ABC News, and other major news media outlets also covered the meeting, driving national attention to the needs of cancer patients and their loved ones.

The focus on health screening comes as recent studies show screening for cancers of the breast, colon, and cervix down between 86 percent and 94 percent in March of 2020 alone. By July 2020, rates of these cancer screenings were still between 29 percent and 35 percent lower than their pre-COVID-19 levels. In addition, CSC’s comprehensive study regarding the impact of COVID-19 on cancer patients revealed the significant need for patients to receive personalized support and navigation:

  • 52 percent of respondents indicated that COVID-19 has very or somewhat negatively affected their ability to obtain needed health care
  • 40 percent of respondents have experienced a disruption to their cancer-related health care because of COVID-19
  • 46 percent of respondents are somewhat, very, or extremely concerned about diagnostic tests being delayed or canceled
  • 85 percent of respondents are somewhat, very, or extremely concerned about others’ lack of adherence to COVID-19 related safety recommendations, like wearing masks in public


“In the big picture, we have to make a greater effort to not only do the [cancer] screenings,” Thiboldeaux told the First Lady during their visit at Whitman-Walker Health. “We have to address the continuum of care for patients; we have to talk about clinical trials and genomic testing; and we have to ensure that cancer care is affordable and accessible for all people impacted by cancer, particularly the underserved in our communities of color.”

CSC and Whitman-Walker Health are longtime partners. The center offers affirming community-based health and wellness services to all, including cancer screenings, with special expertise in LGBTQ and HIV care. In 2015, Whitman-Walker Health became the first federally qualified health center (FQHC) to integrate CSC’s evidence-based care model into its services.

“This is a community clinic that’s reaching a diverse, underserved community, communities of color, here in Washington, D.C.,” noted Thiboldeaux. “The idea that we can bring cancer support and navigation services inside the walls of an FQHC is very special.”

Thiboldeaux has worked with Dr. Biden for years on behalf of cancer patients and caregivers. Last week's meeting with the First Lady—a longstanding leader and advocate for families affected by cancer—is just one example of the ways CSC is sharing its knowledge and research to advocate for and help improve the lives of people with cancer.

How You Can Get Involved

Consider sharing your own experience by participating in one or more of our research opportunities. CSC hosts surveys, focus groups, and patient summits to better understand the experience of those impacted by cancer. Your feedback helps ensure the needs of patients and caregivers are being supported.

Read CSC’s series of policy recommendations for the Biden-Harris administration.