DeSantis addresses wife's breast cancer battle: 'She fights, she's tough'

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis addressed his wife's recent breast cancer diagnosis during a Tuesday press conference in Pinellas County, acknowledging the tough fight their family faces as she battles the disease.

DeSantis was in St. Pete Beach Tuesday morning to announce a grant for the city, but when asked about first lady Casey DeSantis' battle with breast cancer, the governor took a deep sigh before talking about his wife's strength.

"She is a very, very strong woman. It's not an easy thing when this happens because your life is going and then all of a sudden, this is something that puts that in the balance," Gov. DeSantis said.

PREVIOUS: Florida first lady Casey DeSantis diagnosed with breast cancer

He said his wife wanted to be honest with people about her diagnosis because of her prominent role in the administration, particularly on issues such as mental health and substance abuse services.

Casey DeSantis stepped down as chairwoman of the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet four days after they announced her cancer diagnosis. 

"I do think that the lesson is, she wasn't in a lot of pain. These screenings can really be life-saving. Make sure that you go in and you do that," the governor said. "She just had a feeling that she needed to do it. Thank God that she did."

Photo courtesy the Executive Office of the Governor, State of Florida

He admitted that the road ahead will be hard for their family and that Casey has already started treatment.

Casey DeSantis, 41, is the mother of three young children under the age of five.

She joins more than 280,000 other women across the country who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. 

Breast cancer survivor Brooke Dulaney said the diagnosis is hard and the treatment can be harder, but she believes Casey DeSantis, like many other women, will find the strength to fight. 

"You show that you're stronger than you think you can be and there is going to be light at the end of the tunnel," Dulaney said.

Dulaney knows first-hand what it's like. She was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 2017 and after six months of chemotherapy was cancer-free. 

Her own journey inspired her to help other women. Three years ago, she started MOST Warriors, which stands for Moms of South Tampa. The support group now has more than 80 members and helps women battling breast cancer. 

"Young women don't realize that this isn't [just] a disease for moms anymore. We need to be diligent in our healthcare doing our annual mammogram and our monthly self-examinations," Dulaney said.

Dulaney hopes the announcement from Florida's first lady can generate awareness and encourage women to be proactive.

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Meanwhile, the governor said his wife is going into her fight with a winning attitude.

"She fights, she's tough," the governor said. "Her view is, 'Better me than somebody who may not be able to deal with it.' That's just kind of her spirit."

DeSantis added, "That's why I love her. She's an exceptional person."