"I'm a private person," says the cancer-stricken star. "I'm shy about people knowing things"
One thing Farrah Fawcett would have appreciated during the course of her very public, 2½-year-battle with cancer: privacy. But that is the one thing she never received.
“It’s much easier to go through something and deal with it without being under a microscope,” says the terminally ill star, 62. “It was stressful. I was terrified of getting the chemo. It’s not pleasant. And the radiation is not pleasant.”
Speaking to a reporter for the first time since she was diagnosed with anal cancer in September 2006, the former Charlie’s Angels icon granted Charles Ornstein, formerly of the Los Angeles Times, an interview – one she gave in August and which the newspaper published Monday, in anticipation of Farrah’s Story, a two-hour NBC documentary Fawcett filmed with her friend Alana Stewart. It airs this Friday.
Fawcett’s harshest words were reserved for the often-exaggerated stories about her illness that were published by a supermarket tabloid, a situation that caused her, she says, to establish a sting operation at the UCLA Medical Center to catch snooping employees who were leaking information about her condition to the publication.
Reacting to a December 2006 story headlined, “Farrah Begs: ‘Let Me Die,’ ” Fawcett, speaking in her home, told the Times: “God, I would never say something like that. To think that people who did look up to me and felt positive because I was going through it too and yet I was strong it just negated all that.”
Last week, Fawcett’s teary-eyed companion and caretaker, Ryan O’Neal, told PEOPLE exclusively, “She stays in bed now. The doctors see that she is comfortable. Farrah is on IVs, but some of that is for nourishment. The treatment has pretty much ended.”
In August, Fawcett said of her fight against the disease, “It becomes your life. People call, ‘How are you?’ ‘How do you feel?’ ‘We’re praying for you.’ ‘Do you still have your hair?’ ‘What do you feel like?’ When every single call is that kind of call it’s all you talk about. It’s all consuming. Then, your quality of life is never the same.”
Fawcett’s quality of life was further jeopardized by the constant intrusion of paparazzi, who trailed her from Los Angeles, where she lives and was treated at UCLA, to Germany, where she also received alternative treatment.
“I’m a private person,” Fawcett told Ornstein. “I’m shy about people knowing things. And I’m really shy about my medical [care]. It would be good if I could just go and heal and then when I decided to go out, it would be okay. It seems that there are areas that should be off-limits.”
As for withholding her August remarks until now, the Times reports it was acting under the request of Fawcett and her rep, to connect the interview to the upcoming TV special. “There will be a good time, and what I have to say then will be more important,” Fawcett said in August, before her condition deteriorated.
Still, back then, the actress said she wanted to serve as an example of someone whose health battle would offer a lasting effect – especially in the areas of protecting patient confidentiality and promoting alternative treatments for cancer.
Said Fawcett, “I’m holding onto the hope that there is some reason that I got cancer and there is something – that may not be very clear to me right now – but that I will do.”
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• 2006: Farrah leans on ex Ryan O’Neal during cancer battle
• 2005: Farrah returns to TV with Chasing Farrah