Published May 13, 2009
Ryan O’Neal said despite Farrah Fawcett's "terrible" years battling cancer, he has fallen more in love with her because of her courage and fearlessness.
“In the last two years, I love her more than I’ve ever loved her … I look at her with awe,” O'Neal, 68, told “Today Show” host Meredith Viera.
But despite their strengthening relationship, Fawcett's health has continued to deteriorate.
“I think she may have believed that she would survive,” he said. “That’s not how it’s going. She’s had a terrible time in the last year.”
The interview comes just days before Fawcett’s documentary, "Farrah’s Story" will air on NBC Friday. The film follows Fawcett, 62, from her initial diagnosis of anal cancer in 2006 to her journey to Germany to search for alternative treatment. Last month, a spokesman for the actress revealed that the cancer had spread to her liver.
O’Neal – who has been with the "Charlie’s Angels" actress for the past 17 years – said he can pinpoint the moment he knew that Fawcett’s condition was deteriorating.
About five or six months ago, the couple and their son Redmond O’Neal were walking on the beach when "halfway there, she stopped and said, ‘can we go back?’"
"Red and I looked at each other and we knew … She could fool you because she always looked good. And he used to say to me, 'she’ll be alright, look how good she looks,'" O’Neal said.
The actor said his son with Fawcett – who is currently awaiting transfer to a lockdown rehab facility for charges that he was caught with heroin at a jail facility north of Los Angeles – is "full of shame for his mistakes."
"Heroin helped him … not to think about it. And he just couldn’t shake it. He has a long ride ahead of him before they let him free, and I don’t think his mother will be here when they let him out," O’Neal said. "So I said to him, live your life as a tribute to your mother."
Still, despite the actress’ condition, O’Neal – who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2001— said she is "extraordinary" and taught the family "how to survive."