By Jim Saunders, The News Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE — With Gov. Ron DeSantis describing her as a “true fighter,” Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
The governor issued a statement Monday about the diagnosis, though the statement did not provide details about issues such as the type of breast cancer, the stage or treatment. Casey DeSantis, 41, is the mother of three children under age 5.
“I am saddened to report that Florida’s esteemed first lady and my beloved wife has been diagnosed with breast cancer,” the governor said in the statement. “As the mother of three young children, Casey is the centerpiece of our family and has made an impact on the lives of countless Floridians through her initiatives as first lady. As she faces the most difficult test of her life, she will have not only have my unwavering support but the support of our entire family, as well as the prayers and well wishes from Floridians across our state. Casey is a true fighter, and she will never, never, never give up.”
The DeSantis family immediately received an outpouring of support on social media.
“The prayers of our entire Senate family are with our wonderful First Lady Casey DeSantis, Governor DeSantis and their entire family as they face this serious health challenge,” Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, said on Twitter.
Sen. Annette Taddeo, a Miami Democrat who has considered running for governor next year, tweeted: “All of Florida is rooting for you @FLCaseyDeSantis to beat cancer and for a speedy recovery. Our prayers are with the Governor, you and the entire First Family.”
Casey DeSantis, a former Jacksonville television personality, has played a prominent role in her husband’s administration, particularly on issues such as mental-health and substance-abuse services. She also chairs the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet.
During an interview last year with The News Service of Florida, she discussed trying to bring people together to work on mental-health issues and preventing “silos” in the efforts.
“We spend $2 billion annually on mental health and substance abuse. So how do we make sure that those funds are being well spent? So that was kind of step one,” she said. “And then, two, I found out that government isn’t the solution to problems. They are a player in it for sure, but how do we harness other sectors of society? How do we work with our federal partners? How do we work with, more importantly, the communities, right? And that goes beyond just the local government, although they have a big hand in it too. How do we work with the private sector who are doing great things? How do we bring them into the fold to collaborate and work together? How do we work with the faith-based communities? How do we work with the nonprofits and the charities, law enforcement, our first responders and educators and all of the key people in society to be able to work on best practices to help those in the communities?”
Casey DeSantis also discussed the high-profile role she has played in her husband’s administration.
“I want people to know that I think it goes back to this: When much is given, much is expected,” she said during the interview. “And when I realized very quickly the impact that I could have, hopefully, on the state by just bringing people together to have a conversation, I thought, boy, there’s a lot we can do. And you owe it to the people of the state to be able to get out in whatever capacity you can to be able to do good.”