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Ron DeSantis celebrates cancer-survivor wife Casey in emotional State of the State speech

By Sarah May on
 March 8, 2023

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis delivered his State of the State address on Tuesday, and in addition to outlining what he views as the defining successes of his tenure in office, paid an emotional tribute to his cancer survivor wife, Casey, as the Daily Mail reports.

Florida's first lady was diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of 2021, as the Tampa Bay Times noted, and she has since taken an active role in efforts aimed at combating the disease and aiding patients in accessing the most effective possible treatments.

DeSantis honors wife

During his address to Floridians, DeSantis offered words of gratitude and admiration for his wife, noting that throughout his time in office, she has been involved in initiates “to help our youth avoid drugs, promote emotional resiliency in schools, and provide a pathway to prosperity for the less fortunate.”

Not only that, the governor noted, Casey DeSantis also gave birth one of the couple's three children during that span “and most recently fought a battle against breast cancer.”

Remarking on his wife's triumph against what was a frightening diagnosis, the governor added, “I was here last year saying we would be able to announce that she was cancer free, and I can tell you she is cancer free, and she is doing better than ever.”

Heralding his wife's involvement in a new state program, the “Cancer Connect Collaborative,” DeSantis said the program will “rethink Florida's battle against cancer by breaking down longstanding silos between researchers, cancer facilities and medical providers to improve research and treatment.”

Cancer Connect Collaborative launched

The aforementioned cancer initiative was announced in late February as an expansion of the existing Cancer Connect Collaborative – a program launched by the first lady back in August of 2022 – and will, according to a press release issued at the time, “assemble a team of medical professionals to analyze and rethink Florida's approach to combating cancer.”

Casey DeSantis said at the time that the program would focus on “incentivizing proven and promising approaches to cancer care while reducing the role of bureaucratic red tape and special interests.”

The Collaborative is slated to focus on five critical objectives, namely, data, best practices, innovation, funding, and honesty in the dissemination of cancer information.

“This collaborative will chart a course of action that will lead the nation and ultimately save lives,” Mrs. DeSantis added.

Challenging journey

Floridians were shocked in October of 2021 that the state's first lady had received a breast cancer diagnosis at the age of 41, and though the DeSantis family did not reveal specifics about the stage at which the disease was discovered, the governor remained positive and hopeful about his wife's prospects.

“Casey is a true fighter, and she will never, never give up,” Ron DeSantis said at the time.

Though the DeSantis family worked to retain a degree of privacy about the specifics of the first lady's treatment, it was subsequently revealed that the governor had spent time accompanying his wife to chemotherapy appointments after several prominent Democrats – including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) – accused him of being “inexplicably missing" during a surge in COVID-19 cases.

The governor's office was forced to push back, with communications staffer Kyle Lamb pointing out, “Just FYI, [DeSantis] is not on vacation,” noting, “[a]nyone pushing that could have easily seen the public schedule and seen that he's taking calls and meeting this past week. Not having public events does not = 'vacation.'”

Triumph over adversity

In January of 2022, Gov. DeSantis announced to the public that his wife had completed her prescribed course of chemotherapy treatment, adding that she “fought very hard” and had “responded very well,” as Fox News reported at the time.

“She ran that gauntlet, she's doing well, and we look forward to having more good news over the next few weeks and months,” DeSantis added.

Indeed, that good news came in March of 2022, when the governor declared about his wife, “After going though both treatment and surgery for breast cancer, she is now considered cancer free.

Now that the DeSantis family appears to be on the other side of their very personal battle with cancer, the governor and first lady appear eager to undertake new challenges not only on behalf of Floridians, but – if intensifying speculation about a possible presidential run 2024 has any merit – perhaps on behalf of the entire nation.