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'I have only begun to fight': First Lady Casey DeSantis makes first public appearance since cancer diagnosis

She made a surprise appearance at a Hernando County Republican Party dinner.

HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. — "I'm sure as hell not giving up," First Lady Casey DeSantis declared during her first appearance since announcing her breast cancer diagnosis. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis tweeted a video of her appearance Monday morning.

She spoke during a Hernando County Republican Party dinner. Her husband, Gov. Ron DeSantis, was a speaker at the event. 

"I just want to thank you for all the thoughts and prayers," DeSantis said. "I trust in the Lord. I know how tough she is. She's doing very, very well. In fact, she's doing so well that she wanted to come here tonight and say hello to you."

After he introduced her, the crowd leaped to its feet with applause as she walked on stage. 

"I think there's a lot that we can be upset about, that we can be sad about -- the direction of our country, the future of our nation, our families, our communities, our safety, our children, their education, their futures, our health and our wellbeing," she said in part. "But I'll tell you one thing is for sure -- I'm sure as hell not giving up."

RELATED: 'She’s got an awful lot to live for': Gov. DeSantis puts faith in God as wife battles cancer

"I am so proud of Casey for her strength and courage as she stares down breast cancer. What an inspirational message!" Gov. Ron DeSantis tweeted Monday morning. 

"Never, ever, ever, give up the fight, ever," she continued. "But to steal some lines from the strongest, most courageous, person I have ever met in my life, who is my husband, to steal some lines from him, I have only begun to fight."

On Oct. 4, DeSantis' office announced the first lady was diagnosed with breast cancer, with the governor calling her a "true fighter." 

Gov. DeSantis spoke on his wife's appearance Monday during a press conference in Hernando County. 

"She’s gonna do whatever she needs to do to fight back," the governor said. “She’s gonna be back better than ever. I don’t know when, but I know it’s gonna happen."

Casey DeSantis, a former Emmy-winning television personality in Jacksonville, has taken an active role in her husband's administration. She spearheaded Hope Florida – A Pathway to Prosperity, a Department of Children and Families initiative that focused on fostering collaborations between the state, religious organizations and the private sector to help Floridians find "prosperity."

RELATED: Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis diagnosed with breast cancer

Kids and education have been cornerstones of Casey DeSantis' efforts in Tallahassee. She has worked with the attorney general's office, as well as the state health and education departments, to educate young people about substance abuse.

Mental health has also been a focal point, with the first lady working to bolster resources and education for first responders, veterans and kids.

Back in February, the first lady launched a separate initiative focused on resiliency. It involved sports legends, including Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, empowering Florida students to persevere in the face of adversity.

Florida says the first lady helped develop the state's K-12 Character Education Standards, in partnership with the Department of Education.

The 41-year-old Ohio native has a bachelor's degree in economics from the College of Charleston. She's an equestrian, with three national titles.

Ron and Casey DeSantis married in 2010. They have three children: Madison, 4, Mason, 3, and 18-month-old Mamie.

RELATED: Well wishes, prayers go out to First Lady Casey DeSantis following breast cancer diagnosis


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