Farrah Fawcett: "Under a Microscope" and Holding On to Hope

Her battle for privacy and what her legacy may be

Farrah Fawcett with Reporter Charles Ornstein
Courtesy of Windmill Entertainment LLC

By Charles Ornstein

For more than 2½ years, Farrah Fawcett's battle with cancer has sparked a flurry of headlines for celebrity tabloids. But it also has stripped the actress of her ability to seek treatment while maintaining her privacy, she said in an interview.

In a three-hour conversation with the Times last August -- her only media interview after being diagnosed with anal cancer in September 2006 -- Fawcett denounced the National Enquirer for publishing leaked details about her illness, including some that she said were false. And she criticized UCLA Medical Center for failing to protect her medical records from snooping employees.

The former "Charlie's Angels" star, 62, said she set up a real-life sting operation to prove to UCLA that one of its employees was leaking her medical data to the Enquirer. She also talked about the pressure she felt from the hospital to donate money to set up a foundation in her name.

Above all, in a firm voice that betrayed no hint of her terminal illness, Fawcett described how she was deprived of the choice that most other cancer patients have: when, and even whether, to share information with family, friends or strangers.

"It's much easier to go through something and deal with it without being under a microscope," she said. "It was stressful. I was terrified of getting the chemo. It's not pleasant. And the radiation is not pleasant."

"It becomes your life," she said, sitting on the couch of her Los Angeles home, flanked by an Andy Warhol portrait of her and surrounded by sculptures she crafted. "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."

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