TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – For Florida Gov. Ron Desantis, the announcement out of Tallahassee Monday morning was deeply personal and incredibly difficult.
The governor shared the stunning news that his young wife and mother-of-three has breast cancer, a woman he describes as the “centerpiece” of their family now facing the “most difficult test” of her life.
Gov. DeSantis released the following statement regarding his wife’s diagnosis.
“I am saddened to report that Florida’s esteemed First Lady and my beloved wife has been diagnosed with breast cancer. 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 governor said.
The first lady is receiving treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa.
Dr. Brian Czerniecki has spent a lifetime treating breast cancer patients. As the chair of the department of breast oncology at Moffitt, he is incredibly passionate about saving lives and knows firsthand what it’s like to tell young mothers they have breast cancer.
It is a diagnosis, he says, that changes everything.
“It’s very traumatic for young mothers that are diagnosed with it. Fortunately, people should be assured they’re going to live a long time,” he told 8 On Your Side. “You begin to realize that life is fragile and it resets your priorities.”
For young mothers, in particular, their first concern is their children, says Dr. Czerniecki.
The longtime oncologist understands how life-altering it is when breast cancer is detected and diagnosed.
“Usually the first thing young mothers are concerned about is, am I going to live to see my children graduate high school or go to their first dance, or drive their car. It’s very traumatic for young mothers,” he explained.
Amid the heartache, however, there is hope.
Dr. Czerniecki says he is incredibly hopeful for the future and is quick to point out the extensive and promising advances in cancer treatment.
It all starts, he maintains, with early detection, including mammograms and self-examinations.
“Women should rest easy because it’s better when you catch this early, your odds of having a good outcome are much better,” he says.
CDC data shows 131,409 Florida women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018. The rate of 438 per 100,000 is nearly four times higher than the national rate of 127 cases.
Gov. DeSantis and his wife married in 2010 and have three children, Madison, 4, Mason, 3, and 18-month-old Mamie.