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Faith Fancher, 53; TV News Reporter Who Brought Attention to Breast Cancer Through Her Disclosure

October 21, 2003|From Associated Press

Faith Fancher, a well-known San Francisco Bay area television reporter who transformed a diagnosis of breast cancer into an opportunity to help others, has died at the age of 53.

Fancher, who died at her home in Oakland on Sunday, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997. She disclosed her disease that year during a three-part series on KTVU television, where she was a reporter.

Fancher said she received thousands of calls, e-mails and letters from people, many of them thanking her for making them aware of the disease and the screening tests available to them.

She later founded the organization Friends of Faith, which raises money for cancer research and for help for low-income women suffering from the disease.

During her six-year battle with cancer, Fancher often discussed her condition publicly, hoping to raise money and increase awareness about the disease.

"In my career I've asked people to share with me their life stories at the most difficult times in their lives, but now it's my turn to share with them," she once said. "It would be wrong not to speak out."

Born in 1950 in Franklin, Tenn., Fancher graduated from the University of Tennessee and began her career in broadcasting at WBIR in Knoxville, Tenn. She later worked at National Public Radio and Cable News Network in Washington, D.C., before moving to KTVU in Oakland in 1983.

In her long reporting career, she won many awards, including many honors connected to her fight against breast cancer. In 2000, she was presented with a Certificate of Recognition by the California Senate.

She was named Journalist of the Year by the Bay Area Black Media Coalition in 1993 and was named one of the Outstanding Young Women in America in 1979.

Fancher is survived by her husband, William Drummond, a former Los Angeles Times staff writer and now a journalism professor at UC Berkeley; a stepson, Sean Drummond; and stepdaughter, Tamberline Drummond.

Fancher is also survived by a sister, two stepsisters and two half sisters.

Donations may be sent to Friends of Faith, 6114 LaSalle St., Box 324, Oakland, CA 94611.

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