Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his wife, Casey DeSantis, opened up about her battle with cancer in an exclusive interview with NBC News.
The first lady of Florida was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021. The couple has been married since 2010, and have three children — Madison, Mason and Mamie.
In their first network interview since DeSantis launched his campaign for president, Casey DeSantis told NBC News correspondent Dasha Burns that she received her cancer diagnosis when her children were 4, 3 and 1 years old.
“And at that time, we didn’t really know what was going to happen, right? You never know when something like that comes upon your family,” she said. “And so I had to rely on him in a really big way.”
"There were times when I was going through six rounds of chemotherapy," she added. "I was going through six weeks of radiation, and three surgeries. And I couldn’t get up. Couldn’t do very many things. I couldn’t pick up my 3 year old, when they wanted me to hold him. And I had to tell him a little bit of a fib, that Mommy’s arm hurts. And I have to go back to the hospital because it’s about my arm. It wasn’t about the arm. To this day, they have no idea of what I’ve been through.”
Casey DeSantis said she’s never told her kids about her battle with cancer because they’re not “old enough to really understand what that means,” but that they plan to tell them about it “at some point.”
She went on to praise her husband for stepping in to take care of their children as she struggled with cancer.
“When you’re going through opportunities where you can barely scrape yourself off the bathroom floor, because you’re sick, and your children are calling for you, and you physically cannot get to them, but you have somebody who is not only running the state of Florida, and who’s there for the people of his state, he was there for me,” she said.
“And he was there to go pick up my kids when I couldn’t. And he did it with humility. And he did it with love,” she added, while holding back tears. “And I tell you what, can’t ask for a better husband than that.”
Asked how it feels to hear his wife say that, the governor said: “Well, look. That’s in sickness and in health. That’s what you sign up for.”
“She’s not only my wife, she’s my best friend. And she’s the person that I’ve always dreamed to be the mother of my children. And so this is just what you do,” he said.
Casey DeSantis, 43, a former producer and Emmy award-winning television show host, made her first solo public appearance of her husband’s presidential campaign last month, launching Mamas for DeSantis in a suburb of Des Moines.
Talking about their roles as parents — and mobilizing other parents — has emerged as a key part of the campaign’s strategy. Casey DeSantis is her husband's most trusted adviser and a significant draw at his events. She is frequently at his side during his campaign stops and often shakes hands and takes pictures with Republican attendees.
The Mamas for DeSantis initiative launched in June last year as an arm of the governor’s re-election campaign, with a mission to mobilize mothers and grandmothers across Florida. The group initially set a goal of signing up 1 million “mamas” and hit 1.1 million by Election Day, according to the campaign.