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Deanna Favre: Against All Odds

Share This article Deanna, then 15, met Brett after school in 1983. After graduating from high school, Deanna went to community college, and a year later, when Brett graduated, he got a football scholarship from the University of Southern Mississippi. They were able to see each other throughout college. 

At 19, Deanna found out she was pregnant and both she and Brett agreed to keep the baby. Though it was difficult as a single mom, Deanna worked and attended school part-time. Soon she gave up school to work full time. Then in February 1992, Brett, who was playing for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, was traded to the Green Bay Packers. Brett insisted that Deanna go back to school full time, and she was able to graduate with a degree in exercise science.            

In 1992, Brett was injured in a game against Philadelphia. He took Vicodin to ease the pain. For a couple of years after that, Brett continued to use the drug for various aches and pains. By 1994, Brett was craving the painkillers. Deanna didn’t realize he was addicted until after a routine surgery. Brett had a seizure and he was forced to tell doctors about his addiction. He voluntarily admitted himself to the NFL’s drug rehab program.


Soon Brett asked Deanna to marry him. It wasn’t until after his rehabilitation that she saw his commitment to work out their relationship. Then Deanna said yes so in July 1996, they were married. In 1999, their second daughter, Breleigh, was born. (Deanna says that had she known Christ her entire life, she would have made better decisions and choices as a young person.) By 2003, the Favres were sailing on relatively untroubled seas. In December 2003, Brett’s father, Irvine, died unexpectedly. Deanna, who preferred a life of quiet anonymity, was thrust in the spotlight when television cameras zeroed in on her watching her grief-stricken husband lead the Packers to a victory over the Oakland Raiders. Her life was changed forever.            

Tragedy struck again in October 2004 when Deanna’s younger brother, Casey, died unexpectedly in an ATV accident. Four days later, still reeling from her brother’s death, Deanna found out she had breast cancer. When the call came in from the doctor, Deanna says she was numb. Her mind filled with images of thin, bald women. 

“I had a loving husband, two daughters, a wonderful life,” says Deanna, then 35.  “And breast cancer.”

When she was first diagnosed, Deanna says she shut down and pulled away from everyone. 

“I didn’t want people to see me sick,” says Deanna. 

“The women in my Bible study continued to check on me and pray for me. I was always grateful for those prayers because they supported me when I had no strength left.” 

Most days, Deanna says she felt like she were in the center of an incredible calm. After surgery, Deanna was treated with four doses of chemotherapy followed by six weeks of radiation. Two weeks after chemo, Deanna lost her hair.  Soon both of her daughters cut their hair short and donated them to Locks of Love and Brett shaved his off to also show support.            

After Deanna realized how much her medical bills were and knew what it was like to be a single mother without health insurance, she wanted to help women who were diagnosed with cancer and financially strapped. She started the Deanna Favre HOPE Foundation where they focus on helping women who are struggling to pay medical bills. Last year, the HOPE Foundation gave $3,000 gifts to 12 people who qualified under their mission statement to use for their medical bills or buy groceries. 

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