For nearly three years she had waged a valiant battle against anal cancer that metastasized to her liver, but in June she was hospitalized to treat an infection in the port that had been installed because the veins in her delicate arms had collapsed from the brutal months of injections and IV lines.As O’Neal and I discussed the situation in the Beverly Hills living room of Alana Stewart, Fawcett’s best friend busied herself in the kitchen, baking ginger cookies.Day after day, O’Neal and Stewart took Fawcett’s favorite treats to the hospital, trying to tempt her to eat: green-corn tamales, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese.

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Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O’Neal were the Angelina and Brad of their day—dazzling sex symbol meets Hollywood hunk—until their stars were tarnished by drugs, infidelity, and family pathology.

In the last days of Fawcett’s life, as cancer stripped the masks from an all-too-human drama, the author shared O’Neal’s vigil, learning the true struggles and breakthroughs of their 30-year romance.

In the final days of Farrah Fawcett’s life, she was so heavily sedated that she sometimes failed to recognize even Ryan O’Neal, her lover of 30 years and father of her only child.“When I got to the hospital last night, I said, ‘Who am I?

’ She had that thousand-mile stare, and she said, ‘Steve,’” O’Neal told me one day in mid-June. ’ The nurse said, ‘He supplies the medications.’”O’Neal shook his head, his eyes reddening. ”Given his own arrest for possession and the horrendous drug problems of three of his children, such a crack might appear unseemly, but Fawcett’s condition had become so dire that O’Neal was desperately trying to sustain himself with gallows humor.

“I think she’s got about $25 million in the bank and in properties.” He leaned over, staring intently at the empty chair next to him, and raised his voice as if shouting at his comatose lover: “”But then his eyes welled up.

“She was supposed to go into the hospital just for a couple of days, but I don’t know if we’ll ever get her home,” he said, his voice cracking.

Meanwhile, Stewart, who had loyally supported Fawcett’s fierce belief that she would triumph over her disease, still clung to hope.

” she murmured, lovingly stroking a cookie—and handed it back without taking a bite. “I was thinking I’ll get a motorcycle, because I’ll get killed and then I can join her,” O’Neal said.

“But then I thought, No, I can’t, because my son’s in jail again!

”He even made black jokes about trying to get his hands on Fawcett’s estate.

“She has lots of money; we’re trying to find out how much,” he said.