MN woman, VP Joe Biden bond over loved ones lost to cancer


A Minnesota woman got a phone call from one of her heroes on Monday.

That hero happened to be Vice President Joe Biden, who is the chair of the White House's new task force to fight cancer.

Raha Assadi-Lamouki of Minnetonka, who lost her 21-year-old brother Roozie to cancer, detailed her 16-minute, 41-second phone call with the vice president on her blog, and also spoke to the Star Tribune about it.

“I was trying to figure out how to record it on my phone,” she told the Star Tribune. “But I was worried I was going to hang up on him.”

Biden was calling in response to Assadi-Lamouki's letter she sent to the White House about her brother's death and research on cancer treatment. (Read the letter on her blog here.)

"I'm sorry we have something like this in common – losing Beau and Roozie – but this is why I want to have you on my team," Biden told Assadi-Lamouki, she recalled on her blog.

Biden's 46-year-old son Beau had brain cancer. He died in May of last year, CNN reported.

Assadi-Lamouki and Biden talked about the task force's initiatives, which she said he was "incredibly passionate about," asked her if she was OK to talk to the media when situations arise, and also asked her to keep his teem "in the loop" on anything she finds important.

He also said he hopes to see her in Washington, D.C. in the future.

The Cancer Moonshot Task Force

Biden is heading the White House's Cancer Moonshot Task Force, which is a first-of-its-kind federal task force aiming to end cancer.

"We're calling it a 'Moonshot,' and that's because I believe that this effort, like President Kennedy's call to land on the moon 55 years ago, is truly a call to humankind – to be bold and do big things," Biden said in the White House's announcement.

President Barack Obama introduced the task force in his State of the Union address last month, and Biden led its first meeting Monday.

Obama's administration is asking Congress for $1 billion in new cancer funding for the next two years. The money will go to develop vaccines, improve cancer detection, research immunotherapy treatments, analyze the genetic makeup of tumors, share data and a focus on cancer in children, according to USA Today.

More on Assadi-Lamouki, Roozie

Assadi-Lamouki is a 24-year-old Mitchell Hamline Law student and American Cancer Society volunteer, according to an article she wrote for MinnPost.

She has written about her brother's health and death on her blog. Roozie, she explains, was treated for a brain tumor at age 9, for lymphoma at 14, received a bone-marrow transplant at 15 to treat an early stage leukemia, and then was re-diagnosed with leukemia at age 20.

Nevertheless, he graduated from Hopkins High School with honors and studied mechanical engineering at the University of Minnesota, the Star Tribune says.

In Assadi-Lamouki's letter to the White House, she described her brother as selfless and "my best friend, my little brother, my hero, my idea of HOPE, COURAGE, and RESILIENCE."

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