With quiet dignity and grace, the Farrah Fawcett Foundation formally opened exactly one year after the actress died from cancer. Located in Beverly Hills, Calif., the Foundation funds alternative cancer research and treatment methods for patients with anal cancer. The mission is to support research that will improve the quality of life in the physical, social and spiritual arenas.
The "Charlie's Angels" star was diagnosed with anal cancer in 2006 and died at the age of 62 on June 25, 2009. She provided the public unique insight into the challenges faced by cancer patients by making her personal journey public through the 2009 documentary, "Farrah's Story."
Alana Stewart, Ryan O'Neal, Tatum O'Neal and Redmond O'Neal were among the guests who attended the dedication. Stewart, a close friend, told People magazine, "She felt that she could help a lot of people and she could give a lot of people inspiration, courage and hope. That's why she did the documentary and that's why she started the foundation."
Ryan O'Neal, Fawcett's longtime companion, told CNN in an interview, "We're trying to show that she hasn't left, that her name is still alive and that maybe there will be something good that comes from this."
"She took it all public, didn't she?" said O’Neal’s daughter Tatum in the same interview. "So that we could all see, so that a person who is going through cancer doesn't have to go through that alone. So that you don't have to feel like you're stuck in the middle of a small town and you've got cancer and it's beating away at you. You can say 'Oh, my goodness, this woman gave her own life to show us that we can fight it and do it and hopefully they're going to find a cure.'”
Anal cancer is a rare malignancy that starts in the anus -- the opening at the end of the rectum. The American Cancer Society estimates for anal cancer in the United States are for 2009:
• about 5,290 new cases (3,190 in women and 2,100 in men)
• about 710 deaths (450 in women and 260 in men)
The number of new anal cancer cases has been on the rise for many years. Anal cancer is found mainly in adults, with the average age of onset being in the early 60s.