'Farrah's Story': Farrah Fawcett describes 'my own private war'

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The two-hour Farrah’s Story was a kind of home-movie diary of Farrah Fawcett’s life covering roughly the past two years of living with cancer. Much of the time, the camera was handled by her friend Alana Stewart, sometimes by Fawcett herself; some sequences — interviews with Ryan O’Neal, as well as a few of her doctors — looked as though they were filmed in a TV studio. It all cohered as a long, sad story that was sometimes almost unbearable, sometimes fascinating.

Anyone who has experienced or been in contact with someone diagnosed with cancer knows the outline of Farrah’s “story”: the doctor consultations and hospital visits, the often-painful treatments (Fawcett undergoes them in both California and Germany), the moments of happiness and despair. I was struck by how curious about the disease Fawcett has been, eager for information from her care-givers, giving good, hard stares at pictures of the spread or remission of her diagnosed anal and liver cancer. In those moments, she was most like the sturdy young woman so many people have long admired.

Because the TV special used the format of a journal from which Fawcett reads sections in voiceover, there was a lot of positive-thinking asserted, and the inevitable phrases one falls back on to try and make sense of an unimaginable death sentence: cancer as “my own private war” and “it’s seriously time for a miracle.”

In the middle of Farrah’s Story there was a chunk of time spent inveighing against the tabloids for reporting things that aren’t true and photographers who crowd her in public places to snap pictures of her in a weakened condition. Fawcett referred to The National Enquirer as being “as invasive and malignant as cancer.” This anger, as it was expressed by both her and Stewart, is a little baffling: After being the subject of tabloid reporting for decades, she could have expected this, and isn’t the reporting on her condition the least of her worries? Then again, however, no one can know what brings emotional pain to another person.

Her son Redmond, freed from prison for a three-hour visit in leg-chains, is a sight the heavily-sedated and in-pain Fawcett seemed to have been mostly unaware of, and that was a small mercy. It was nauseating to see Redmond, serving time for felony drug possession, give a leering smile to the camera.

Because of Fawcett’s eagerness to film so much of the past two years, the cameras caught interesting moments beyond the engulfing grievousness of her condition. Two stood out for me: a German doctor, trying to take her mind off the pain Fawcett was enduring, asked her to name her “best films.” Fawcett said, “Oh, Extremities or Burning Bed or Small Sacrifices.” And there was also one remarkable phrase she uttered in describing herself now: “a blonde nothingness.” Sad, yes, but also startlingly poetic.

More on Farrah’s Story: Producer files lawsuit over upcoming Farrah Fawcett documentary

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  • Jenny

    I watched your story tonight and it was so compelling. You and Ryan are in my thoughts and prayers. You are an inspiration to all.

  • Tara

    Wow you’re a piece of work aren’t you? This is how you talk about a woman who was fearless enough to brave her soul as she lay dying of cancer? You take pot shots at her and enjoy a play on her words? Wow. Bottom feeder would be putting it mildly. You’re disgusting.

  • Jen K

    you are a pathetic excuse for a human being, let alone a man. the quality of your writing is wretched. you’d better pray you don’t suffer a terminal illness as doubtful you could do with such courage as Farrah.

  • Vibrant

    Ryan O’Neal= you hear so much bad about him.
    I like him for standing by his woman.

  • Sue Marie

    This was a very compelling story. Please don’t criticize her son. The whole time she was seeking treatment, I wondered where he was. There is an addiction in this family that needs to be treated. Ridicule is not the anwer. Farrah said it herself at the end of the story when she mentioned health care in this country. That young man needs to be taken care of instead of shackled like an animal to see his dying mother. Our country is run by fools and their shameful laws.

  • christa

    The documentary was absolutely heart-wrenching to watch.. I can’t stop crying..even facing that terrible disease, she kept her Grace and beauty and spirit. My heart goes out to her and her family and friends. Words just seem so empty, I wish I could do something to help.

  • Jason Pilt

    KEN TUCKER,
    I agree that when you attain “celebrity” status you have to take the good with the bad when it comes to the press covering you. I’ll even sit on your side of the fence when it comes to paparazzi covering divorces, break-ups and other personal issues… Its the price you pay for the money and perks. HOWEVER, we are talking about a womans battle for her LIFE. If that coverage impedes her recovery in the most infinitesimal way, even by causing a split second of distress, it is not OK. All other life events are fair game…thats literally part of the business of being famous. But a person weakened by cancer? A suffering human being faced with their own mortality? All I can say is Mr. Tucker, if you find her anger “baffling” I am guessing it is because no one has harassed your daughter or wife who is dying of cancer… Perhaps then the reason for the anger would be slightly clearer to you, famous or not.

  • Jason Pilt

    I didnt even read the other comments until after I posted mine. Im glad to see Im not alone in thinking KEN TUCKER should be fired or we should all abandon this website…

  • Jason Pilt

    PLEASE TAKE 2 MINUTES TO SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH KEN TUCKER
    http://www.kentucker.net/

  • B. Donnelly

    God bless Farrah Fawcett. Her strength, faith and courage inspires us all to appreciate life.

  • Joy

    Give her some dignity for Christ’s sake! She has never humiliated herself or her family that the media was able to “feed” on. She has helped many people that were in abusive relationships whether it be male or female INCLUDING myself. LEAVE HER ALONE!!!!!

  • Joy

    Farrah-
    YOU GO GIRL!!!! You gave me the courage after watching “The Burning Bed” and “Extremeties” to get out of an abusive relationship. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. I am a single parent with beautiful children but we are ALL happy and doing well.

  • Jeff Cooke

    Farrah..I don’t know if you’ll even see this but I have to say it somewhere. I love you and I have loved you for over 30 years. You are more beautiful now than you have ever been because before it was about the outside of you and now it’s about the inside of you and you are an even more beautiful soul than you are a woman. I will always be a very big fan and I hate that you are suffering. You are in my prayers and in my heart. Keep fighting, Farrah! Thank you for your inspiration. God bless this wonderful angel!

  • nancy

    Tonight’s documentary on Farrah’s fight against cancer was one of the best shows I have watched in years. It shows the horrible toll that cancer takes on its victim’s. Perhaps this documentary will inspire someone to quit smoking, get a mammogram, or anything pro-active concerning their own health care. Sometimes my own son does things that break my heart, but I still love him. As a mother, it is obvious that Farrah loves her son dearly, no matter what he has done. It is not our place to judge him but to be thankful that he provides the warmth of love that only resides in a mother’s heart. God bless Farrah Fawcett and her amazing story of bravery and grace. Just maybe…she was able to alter or save the life of someone who watched tonight.

  • Joe Mascot,M.D.

    Thank you so much!
    You have helped me help my patients!
    I I adore you. You are one of my angels.

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