First Lady of Florida unveils Florida Cancer Connect

First Lady of Florida unveils Florida Cancer Connect
First Lady, Casey DeSantis shared her personal story of a cancer journey to ‘cancer free’

Ackerman Cancer Center welcomed guests and survivors for kickoff

Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis announced the launch of her initiative, Florida Cancer Connect, at Jacksonville’s Ackerman Cancer Center.

A cancer survivor herself, declared cancer-free in February of this year, DeSantis created this initiative in partnership with the Florida Department of Health & Florida Agency for Health Care Administration. It is a “a centralized resource hub for cancer patients, caregivers, and loved ones.”

Available resources at its website — — include cancer screening and prevention resources, information on navigating healthcare coverage and assistance finding local healthcare facilities or cancer treatment centers.

“The more you know, the more you know where to go, the more you know about the resources and the medications, the better your chances are of beating this thing,” DeSantis said. “…This was behind the thinking of [Florida Cancer Connect]: We need to do more for the people of this state to be able to be in a position to find the help that they need in these difficult times.”

Ackerman Cancer Center Medical Director Dr. Scot Ackerman spoke of the importance of cancer screenings and early detection in preventing, diagnosing and treating patients.

Dr. Scot Ackerman speaks about his passion for caring for cancer patients
Dr. Scot Ackerman speaks about his passion for caring for cancer patients

“As you know, cancer screening plays a crucial role in preventing cancer and also diagnosing cancer early,” he said. “Diagnosing cancer early makes it easier to treat and gives us as practitioners a better chance to cure our patients. What I’ve seen over the years in treating thousands of people who have been diagnosed with cancer is that  those patients who are well-informed and have appropriate support do better.”

Additional Florida Cancer Connect resources for patients and caregivers include stories of survival, which provide those crucial elements while battling cancer: strength, inspiration and hope.

“There’s stories of survival and hope,” DeSantis said. “…People across the state can log on, see what type of cancer they have. They can see other people who have battled those same types of cancers and get stories of inspiration.”

Survivors are invited to share “letters of strength” on the website by submitting a copy of their letter to [email protected] with the subject line “Share My Letter of Strength.”

“Florida Cancer Connect hopefully will help Floridians who have to deal with this disease,” said Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Simone Marstiller. “One stop, one place to go, a lot of information, a lot of support. I want to encourage everyone who’s out there who wants to either share their stories or share support for folks who are going through cancer, please, please send an e-mail to [email protected] These stories mean so very much to the people, the families who are going through this illness and this ordeal.”

In 2018, according to the Florida Cancer Connect website, “more than 132,000 new cancer diagnoses were reported to the statewide cancer registry.”

Florida Cancer Connect was launched on Aug. 3.

By Michele Leivas
Resident Community News

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