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Florida's First family calls for more funding for cancer research

Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis stands at a podium speaking to a small audience while being surrounded by government officials and cancer researchers.
Tristan Wood
/
WFSU
Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis speaks at a press conference at the Governor's Mansion about the state's cancer initiatives on Feb. 14, 2024.

The DeSantises are continuing to promote increased state funding for cancer treatment and research.

During a press conference at the Governor’s Mansion, Gov. Ron DeSantis called on the Florida Legislature to allocate $230 million to cancer-centered initiatives championed by his wife, Casey. She has championed those initiatives after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021 and beating the disease.

Casey said when she was first diagnosed, she didn’t want to talk about it with anyone. But now, she wants to leverage her position as first lady to fight for better cancer treatment around the state.

“You got to get into the arena. You gotta fight. You can’t be a potted plant on the side watching life pass you by, you got to make a difference. So, with humility, I had the unique opportunity as first lady to start the cancer collaborative,” Mrs. DeSantis said.

She launched the Cancer Connect collaborative last year with a goal of breaking down communication barriers between researchers and private facilities to improve cancer treatment in the state. She said during the press conference that the collaborative helps make sure profit incentives don’t get in the way of developing the best treatment for patients.

“We've got to make sure this isn’t about competitive advantages. This is about what we can do to help people survive, help people detect earlier, get better practices with less side effects,” she said.

The collaborative and other cancer research projects received $190 million from the state legislature last year. The governor briefly appeared alongside his wife to call on the legislature to increase that allocation to over $230 million.

“We know that this is something that is important to so many people throughout our state and throughout our country. With today’s announcement, we are bolstering state of the art research to detect and fight cancer,” he said.

As part of his request, over $127 million would go to Casey’s Cancer research program.

Tristan Wood is a senior producer and host with WFSU Public Media. A South Florida native and University of Florida graduate, he focuses on state government in the Sunshine State and local panhandle political happenings.
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