Deanna Favre, wife of Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, gained notoriety when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. Although Favre is self-described as very shy, she overcame her shyness to reach out and tell her story. Now she is cancer-free and has become a leading activist, speaking and raising funds for financially disadvantaged women with cancer through the Deanna Favre HOPE Foundation.
Favre's memoir, "Don't Bet Against Me!: Beating the Odds Against Breast Cancer and in Life," candidly relates her fight against breast cancer, her high-profile marriage to Brett and the personal tragedies she endured. This survivor story is one of healing, love and hope, inspiring people across the country to beat the odds.
EXCERPT from "Don't Bet Against Me!" by Deanna Favre with Angela Hunt
After my mammogram—my first—the radiologist came in with my films and said I'd been cleared to go to ultrasound. By using ultrasound, they would be able to see exactly what they were doing as they tried to aspirate the lump. I tried not to be nervous as I lay on the table in the darkened room. They had numbed my breast, so all I felt was a little pressure at my side when the needle pierced the skin and probed the lump. In a moment, it was all over and a technician took the sample away.
I sat up, arranged the folds of my cape around me, and wished I'd brought something to read. The waiting was tedious, but I knew this was nothing compared to what other women endure. At least this cancer center had all the tools in one location.
When Dr. Patrick McWey, my radiologist, returned a few moments later, he said we needed to do a biopsy. I felt my heart pound a double beat as I met his concerned gaze.
"Well, there were some cells, some abnormal cells."
"Will that . . . will the biopsy tell you if I have cancer?"
He gave me a careful smile. "The material has to sit in a solution overnight, but we'll call you tomorrow."
"Will you give me the results over the phone?" I was dreading the long drive back to Milwaukee. He nodded. "I will."
After the biopsy, Deb Theine waited for me to get dressed, and then she led Sue and me into a softly lit conference room. As I sat at a table, Deb took the chair beside me and slid a thick binder in my direction. Sue sat nearby and pulled out a notebook and a pen.
I looked at the title page and swallowed hard. The binder was filled with information about breast cancer. I looked up and caught Deb's eye.
"Do . . . do you think I have cancer?" "I don't know," Deb said, her voice level. "But it's best to be prepared."
As she opened the binder and began to explain various options and treatments, I realized why she was giving me this information now. If tomorrow I learned that I had cancer, I'd be in such shock that I probably wouldn't retain anything but that one dreadful fact. On the other hand, if tomorrow I learned that all I had was a stubborn cyst, at least I'd be better educated.
Education is so important; it is a huge factor in cancer treatment. In the old days, most breast cancer patients were treated with a mastectomy, period. Now there are options, and as I learned that day, you don't automatically have to lose your breasts.
I listened to Deb, nodding and smiling while [my friend] Sue took frantic notes.
"I don't believe I have cancer," I said several times. "After all, I'm healthy. And I'm only thirty-five."