DeSantis on first lady’s cancer diagnosis: ‘She just wanted to be honest with people’

‘I’ve got faith in the Big Guy upstairs and I’ve got faith in her’

By: - October 12, 2021 1:58 pm

The DeSantis family welcome Mamie, the fourth child born to an incumbent Florida governor and first lady in this photo from March, 2020. Credit: Casey DeSantis’ Twitter feed

Gov. Ron DeSantis opened up Tuesday about First Lady Casey DeSantis’ breast cancer diagnosis, calling his wife “a very, very strong woman” who hopes disclosure of her condition inspires others to seek early screening and treatment.

“It wasn’t like she was in a lot of pain. I mean, these screenings and the things that you go [through] can be really, really be life-saving,” the governor said during a news conference in St. Petersburg Beach.

“So I would just encourage folks, not just women with breast cancer but men who have — there are certain things that we’re more susceptible to — make sure that you go in and do that when the physicians tell you to. She just had a feeling she needed to do it. And so, thank God that she did,” he said.

DeSantis announced the diagnosis on Oct. 4 through a brief written statement but Tuesday’s comments were his most extensive on the matter to date. A GOP insider told the Phoenix that doctors found the cancer early and that Ms. DeSantis is encouraging her husband to tend to his duties as governor and continue preparations for next year’s reelection campaign.

This week, DeSantis has been traveling the state announcing infrastructure grants to local governments. Tuesday’s news conference involved a $2 million grant that, with a $2 million local match, will finance repairs to a wastewater treatment facility and allow the city to end a moratorium on growth.

Asked about the first lady by reporters, the governor said she is holding up well.

“It’s not an easy thing when this happens because, it’s just, your life is going and, all of a sudden, this is something that puts that in the balance. And so, it’s not been easy just, kind of, as we’ve had to deal with that as a family, obviously, particularly for her,” he said.

“But she’s basically come to the point of, OK, this is what I’m going to have to deal with. You know, we’ve been in and out of getting medical [treatments] already and she’s like the healthiest person in the whole hospital,” he continued.

“I have faith. I’ve got faith in the Big Guy upstairs and I’ve got faith in her, and I know that this is a bad break but she’s got an awful lot to live for, for the rest of her life” — including the couple’s three young children.

“Our kids are young enough that they don’t really know what’s going on,” DeSantis said.

“You know, my mother is a breast cancer survivor. I was in elementary school, so I was older than our kids are now, but I can tell you, like, it’s a total blur to me,” he continued.

“I was just too young to appreciate it at the time. So, our kids really have no concept of what’s going, and, you know, in some respects, that’s something that will hopefully not provide any type of a load on them.

“But she fights. She’s tough, and, again, you know, it just shows the type of person she is. I mean, she’s basically resigned that, you know, better that she has to go through it than others who wouldn’t be able to handle it as well. That’s why I love her. She’s an exceptional person.”

Ms. DeSantis been her husband’s closest political adviser and has taken up initiatives of her own promoting mental health and substance abuse programs.

“She just wanted, you know, to be honest with people. Because she has initiatives, I mean, and some of these things that she may not be able to do in the immediate future that maybe she’ll pass the baton to me,” DeSantis said. “She just wanted people to kind of know that.”

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Michael Moline
Michael Moline

Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal. He began his career covering the Florida Capitol for United Press International. More recently, he wrote for Florida Politics.

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