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Breast Cancer A Family Affair For Local Couples

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RALEIGH — By the end of this year, 5,500 women inNorth Carolina will be diagnosed with breastcancer.The disease will not only touch thembut also their husbands, families and friends.

Woody Farr knows fear and pain and loss firsthand.Hank and Sara Williams know it too.Williams began her battle against breast cancerDecember 12, 1997.

Hank Williams remembers, "Sara had found a lump and pretty much ignoredit and said, "It will go away." But it didn't goaway, and she said, "I'm going to get this checkedout."

The decorated vet says he was terrified.

"This probably scared me more than anything inVietnam did," he says.

The lump wasmalignant, and the couple began theirfight, one that included surgery,chemotherapy, hair loss and pain, both physical and emotional.

"I would have traded places with herevery day if she wouldn't have to go through it," Williams says."Every day."

Williams' fears never matched his dedication tohis wife of six years.

Doctor appointments, chemo sessions,whatever the need, he was there, and togetherthey survived.

"There're a lot of men who can't do this," says Sara Williams. "And they leavetheir wives. I've met tons of women who areleft like that."

Williams says her marriage is definitely "'til death do us part."

Death did part Woody and Paula Farr after 38years of marriage.

The Farrs met in 1960.Twenty-five years later, she was diagnosedwith breast cancer.

A radical mastectomy and treatment followed, with no traces of the killer for 11 years. And then, an unexpected return, followed byanother mastectomy more treatment and acourageous battle.

The final diagnosis came in February of lastyear.Farr was devastated. Fighting his own battlewith prostate cancer, he never wavered in hissupport of his wife of 38 years.

"For the spouse, for the guy, you've got tobe there," he says. "And they've got to know you're there forthem. The breastsurgery doesn't change them. It may changethem emotionally because of the scarring, but itdoesn't change them from the individual theyare."

The final battle lasted almost a year.Farr remembers the last words they spoke toeach other.

"It was Saturday morning. She was in deep morphine. I toldher I loved her. She told me she loved me.Those were the last words," he remembers.

Cancer silenced the laughter in the Farrhouse, took his best friend, his lover,his wife. It has bent his spirit, but he isdetermined not to break.

"I'm dealing with it," he says. "I know shewould want me to be doing what I'm doing"

Photographer:Joe Frieda


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