Being diagnosed with cancer didn’t stop First Lady Casey DeSantis from working toward her goals for Florida.
The First Lady, who has made children and improving mental health priorities since before the COVID-19 pandemic, took a step back during her breast cancer treatment. But that didn’t stop her from making gains over the course of the year, even after her diagnosis.
“Floridians have shown tremendous resiliency over the past two years and I am humbled to help Florida’s families, children and environment to prosper,” DeSantis said. “I am proud of the work we have done over the past year and I look forward to our state doing even more in 2022 to help Floridians respond to and triumph over life’s challenges.”
DeSantis revealed her cancer diagnosis in early October, but she was already making public appearances again weeks later and announcing a new priority in early December.
DeSantis’ latest headline was the announcement of Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ recommendation to lawmakers that they set aside $100 million for cancer research and care in the coming fiscal year, $37 million more than the state has currently budgeted. The funding would help three centers in Florida continue to provide treatment and perform cutting-edge cancer research, including at Moffitt Cancer Center, where the First Lady is undergoing treatment.
“Florida offers some of the best cancer care and research in the nation, and I’m proud that we are proposing historic investments in our leading cancer centers,” she said earlier this month. “The Governor and I are committed to helping every cancer patient that we can through innovative research and high-quality care.”
In the mental health arena, she highlighted more than $280 million in spending the Governor signed for the current fiscal year, including a $20 million increase to the Mental Health Assistance Allocation to support school mental health programs. This month, she also announced $12 million to expand peer-to-peer mental health services available for first responders through the Department of Children and Families.
DeSantis expanded on school-based initiatives, including by helping Hope Ambassadors grow the student mentorship program.
In September, she helped launch Hope Florida’s A Pathway to Prosperity, another DCF program to improve economic standing among disadvantaged Floridians. Services are available to children aging out of foster care, pregnant mothers contending with substance abuse disorder and other families in need of assistance.