June 25, 2009
Farrah Fawcett had guts. The heart-stoppingly beautiful woman steamed
up the airwaves in the ‘70s as Jill Munroe in the hit TV series
Charlie’s Angels, and redefined the poster business when an iconic shot
of her in a red swimsuit sold an unrivalled 12 million copies. But she
ditched the obvious cheesecake career path to give a wrenching
portrayal of an abused woman in “The Burning Bed” and followed up with
strong performances in “The Apostle” and as a rape victim looking for
vengeance in “Extremities.” Her acting career was somewhat checkered,
but she sure didn’t take the easy route that was more than available to
Many women cheered, too, when Farrah posed for Playboy at the age of 50, proving that sexy doesn’t end with middle-age.
When she was diagnosed with anal cancer in 2006 she showed equal courage.
Furious about leaks to the tabloids that could only have come from full
access to her medical records, she set a trap at the UCLA Medical
Center and spurred new privacy policies.
At first she was told she’d beaten the cancer after the tumor was removed; anal cancer is highly curable if caught early. But the cancer returned with a
vengeance and spread to her liver. She made headlines when she went for
alternative treatment in Germany, and in April was again hospitalized,
reportedly because of a blood clot that resulted from her treatment
Farrah had taken a camera to record the doctor’s appointment where she discovered that the cancer had returned, and she asked her friend Alana Stewart to continue filming her absolutely unsparingly as she went through treatment. Stewart was unhappy about filming some highly personal moments, but Farrah insisted that this, after all, is what cancer is.
The resulting footage was made into a documentary called “Farrah’s Story.” An estimated nine million viewers tuned in to a devastatingly honest portrayal of what cancer can do, both physically and emotionally. And even though she had perhaps the most famous hair in the world, it began falling out like just about anyone else’s hair after chemotherapy, and so the documentary shows Farrah taking a razor to it—just like anyone else.
Anal cancer is very rare. In the US just 5,290 new cases will be diagnosed this
year and only about 710 of those will die. It’s believed that the human
papillomavirus, HPV, causes anal cancer. HPV is extremely common and
about 80 percent of the population will contract it at some point in
their lives; however an estimated 90-95 percent of those cases will
Comment from Leslie
Brava to the Gardasil Side Effect blog for helping to keep the issue about anal cancer, HPV and Gardasil in check. Otherwise Fawcett’s untimely death could be a runaway train for Big Pharma to encourage women to run out and get the controversial HPV vaccine.
Farrah Facett and the UK’s Jayne Goody should not be held up as examples of what can happen if women do not get the vaccine.