Fawcett speaks out on cancer, media and privacy

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

ProPublica senior reporter Charles Ornstein, who is vice president of AHCJ’s board of directors, interviewed Farrah Fawcett about her fight against cancer and her accompanying struggles with media and privacy last August. A story based on the interview was released Monday in ProPublica and the Los Angeles Times. A producer who worked with Fawcett on a related upcoming NBC documentary had asked that the story be held until five days before the documentary’s Friday release.

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.”

In the interview, Fawcett talked about the private sting operation she ran to help track down the UCLA Medical Center employee who was leaking details about her medical care to a tabloid and her frustration with the hospital’s aggressive efforts to encourage her to donate money for a hospital foundation in her name.

Fawcett said she decided to speak up about the ordeal because she wants to see the Enquirer charged criminally for inducing UCLA workers to invade her records. “They obviously know it’s like buying stolen goods,” she said. “They’ve committed a crime. They’ve paid her money.”

Fawcett describes the sting to Ornstein in the video below.  Ornstein will appear Tuesday on CNN’s Showbiz Tonight at 11 p.m. ET to discuss the story.

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