Deanna Favre looks back, ahead

She reflects on tough past year in lecture series

Posted: Oct. 5, 2005

Deanna Favre put her Southern hospitality to work Wednesday, turning almost 2,500 strangers into friends at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. As she talked, a PowerPoint presentation - think high-tech scrapbook - flickered inspirational sayings, family photos, even prom pictures taken of her and her famous football husband over her head.


Even she had to turn around to see that one. "That's from 1983," she exclaimed.

Favre's was the final talk in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Smart Talk Women's Lecture Series and a chance for the 35-year-old to speak about the past year that found her battling breast cancer, burying her younger brother and housing 50 family members in the Mississippi home she shares with her husband, Brett, during Hurricane Katrina.

Although Brett might be the public persona in the family, Wednesday night proved his wife is his equal in emotional strength.

"I have always been a proud and independent woman," said Favre, who was a single mother to the couple's oldest daughter, now 16, for seven years. She put herself through college taking various jobs, including working for a collection service, when she was bouncing checks to get by.

None of that and all of that prepared her for the last couple years of tragedy, which began when Brett's father died in 2003. She choked back tears recalling her phone call to give Brett the news, then flying all night to get to him and "holding him while he cried, comforting him while he agonized whether to play or not."

The following October, Deanna's 24-year-old brother died in an ATV accident and four days later she was diagnosed with breast cancer in Milwaukee.

Under the heading "A test of faith," there's a picture of Brett in a nun's habit. "Did you ever wonder what Brett did in his spare time?" she quizzed and laughed.

She offered information and introduced the Deanna Favre Hope Foundation, which raises money for indigent women with breast cancer.

She congratulated the audience on helping the Brett Favre Fourward Foundation raise $500,000 for hurricane victims, recounting that one recipient is walking around in a pair of Brett's size 14 Nike shoes.

In a question-and-answer session after her talk, Favre admitted that the public eye, while intrusive, isn't so bad in Green Bay - even now.

"Most of the time people are really friendly. People say nice things," she said. "It could be worse. We could be in Philly or somewhere."

From the Oct. 6, 2005 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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