Casey DeSantis shares cancer story, asks lawmakers for $100 million in cancer funding

First lady Casey DeSantis said it wasn’t a lump or physical symptoms that led her to her OBGYN’s office earlier this year — it was her intuition.

During an initial appointment, a doctor performed a physical exam and didn’t find any cause for concern, but DeSantis said she still felt something wasn’t right and pushed for a mammogram.

A month later a mammogram found it: Breast cancer.

DeSantis said her intuition may have saved her life.

In a pitch to lawmakers this week, the first lady announced Governor DeSantis is recommending $100 million for cancer research and care in his 2022-2023 budget, an increase of $37 million, or nearly 60%, over last year’s funding.

DeSantis made the announcement during a roundtable at Moffitt Cancer Center with Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo and representatives from the center. The $100 million would be used to forward cancer care and research at three cancer institutes in Florida — Moffitt Cancer Center, University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, and University of Florida Health Cancer Center.

“The Governor and I are committed to helping cancer patients through innovative research and high-quality care. While we increase this important funding, I also urge Floridians to go through appropriate cancer screenings,” DeSantis said.

“Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in our state and now is not the time to delay care. I was honored to join experts in the cancer field today to discuss the urgency of cancer screening and to hear about the incredible innovative solutions our institutes are putting forward.”

According to a study released in May by the University of Kansas Medical Center, nearly 9.4 million screenings for breast, colon, and prostate cancers did not occur in the U.S. over the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. The First Lady told lawmakers the disruption in cancer screenings highlights the importance of increased funding for treatment and research.

Since 2014, cancer has been the second leading cause of death in the state of Florida, behind heart disease. In 2021, the American Cancer Society estimates there have been over 47,000 deaths attributed to cancer in Florida. Florida also has the second-highest cancer burden in the United States.

“When you think this can never happen to me...It can happen to you...It can happen to anybody,” DeSantis said.

Samantha Mathers

Samantha Mathers, Action News Jax

Samantha Mathers is a digital reporter and content creator for Action News Jax.