Finding Inner-Strength Amid Cancer
- "Charlie's Angels" stars Kate Jackson, 74, and Jaclyn Smith, 77, reunited during Smith's son's wedding recently. The actresses alongside Farrah Fawcett became household names as the popular 1970s sitcom propelled them into superstardom.
- Fawcett was diagnosed with anal cancer in 2006. Although she was briefly declared "cancer-free" in 2007 after undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, the cancer returned later that year. After an arduous brave fight, she passed away from the cancer in 2009.
- Anal cancer occurs when a genetic mutation turns normal healthy cells into abnormal cells in the anal canal. It's a rare type of cancer and according to the National Institutes of Health, there is a "clear correlation" between anal cancer and the human papillomavirus (HPV).
- HPV, an extremely common sexually transmitted infection, is believed to cause most anal cancer. Thankfully, there is an effective vaccine approved for kids to protect against HPV and help prevent related cancers.
"Charlie's Angels" stars Jaclyn Smith, 77, and Kate Jackson, 74, reunited but their beloved co-star the late Farrah Fawcett who died from cancer was there in spirit. The famous trio were household names during the iconic 1970s TV sitcom. Smith's son recently celebrated a wedding and the joyous affair helped bring the cast together.
"There is nothing like family, and ours grew this weekend," Smith said in an Instagram post showcasing her son Gaston's beautiful wedding.
Read MoreView this post on Instagram
Among the guests at Smith’s son’s wedding included "Charlie's Angels" star Kate Jackson. She and Smith posed together for a delightful photo. Jackson wore sleek sunshades, a light blue blouse, and a light jacket. Smith sported a more familiar look to longtime fans of the detective sitcom. While wearing a sea green gown for the festivities, Smith styled her hair styled with bangs flipped just above her eyebrows reminiscent of her late co-star Farrah Fawcett.
Supportive fans showered Smith with compliments.
"Absolutely beautiful. Congratulations," one Instagram user wrote.
"Congratulations to your handsome son and daughter-in-law. May they have a long and happy life together.!! You all look gorgeous!!" another user commented.
Jackson, Smith, and Fawcett starred in "Charlie's Angels" a detective series that ran from 1976 to 1981. Fawcett became a cultural icon in the 1970s amid her role on the show portraying the beautiful and strong detective Jill Munroe. Fawcett also acted in films like "Logan's Run" and "Saturn 3" during her four decades in Hollywood.
Farrah Fawcett's Anal Cancer Journey
Farrah Fawcett's cancer journey began in 2005 while caring for her elderly mother according to Fawcett's longtime friend Alana Stewart.
"She started having a few symptoms while she was there [helping her mother in Texas] but ignored them," Stewart told Fox News.
After tending to her mom, Fawcett's partner O'Neal urged her to go to the doctor to address her symptoms.
"Ryan said, 'You've got to go to the doctor and get this checked out.' So, she did. They did a colonoscopy and that's when they found it," Stewart said.
Fawcett was diagnosed with anal cancer in 2006.
According to NBC's "Today", Fawcett was "originally treated at The Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center with chemotherapy and radiation not surgery." She was declared cancer-free in 2007 at the age of 60.
"We all celebrated," Stewart explained after learning Fawcett overcame her first round of anal cancer. However, the cancer returned by the spring of 2007.
"It metastasized (or spread) to her liver," Fawcett's former producer Craig Nevius told "Today" at the time.
"With Farrah, hers was already stage 4," Stewart added.
A documentary chronicling her life provided insight into her cancer journey. In the documentary, Smith said the disease revealed how strong Fawcett really was.
"There were no barriers," Smith said in the documentary. "You know how people put up barriers or walls of politeness where they don't talk about this, or they don't talk about that â€¦ She always thought that she would get well," Smith added.
Fawcett's former assistant Mike Pingel told Fox News, "Farrah fought as hard as she could," referring to her brave bout with cancer.
"All of it was to be here for Redmond, her child. Redmond was her moon, her stars, her sky, her heartâ€¦She fought tooth and nail to continue to live, to be with him. And she documented her journey through cancerâ€¦ because she wanted to help others. Farrah was not only an icon, but she wanted to help everybody withâ€¦ her life," Pingel continued.
When Farrah Fawcett passed away after a brave battle with anal cancer in 2009, it shattered many of her family and friends.
Jaclyn Smith called Fawcett "brave" and described her as "relentless in her fight" according to a previous interview with People Magazine.
"Who would have dreamed that this girl who was known for the smile and the hair and the glamour would open up the depths of her soul to share with the world," Smith said of Fawcett.
Kate Jackson said of Fawcett, "I love her so much," during an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
"When the first year of 'Charlie's Angels' ended, our friendship did. It just grew stronger and closer through the years. I don't know what the connection that the three of us have is, but it is there, and it is something extremely special," Jackson said of the bond she shared with Smith and Fawcett.
Understanding Anal Cancer
Anal cancer is a rare tumor that's most often linked to human papillomavirus (HPV) according to the National Institutes of Health.
There's a good chance you have HPV if you're sexually active. However, for most people, it won't cause any problems. HPV affects both men and women and in a small percentage, it can lead to cancer most commonly of the cervix and head and neck.
WATCH: Understanding anal cancer.
Anal Cancer Symptoms
Anal cancer symptoms can include:
- Bleeding from the anus or rectum
- Pain around the anus
- A mass or growth in the anal canal
- Anal itching
These symptoms do not always mean anal cancer as they can stem from benign conditions, like hemorrhoids, anal fissures, or anal warts. If you have any of these symptoms and are concerned something more is going on, it's to see your doctor so that the cause can be found and treated, if needed.
"These symptoms usually do not develop overnight. Often patients will have symptoms such as pain and bleeding," Dr. Julian Sanchez, surgeon in Moffitt Cancer Center's Gastrointestinal Oncology Clinic told SurvivorNet.
A combination of chemotherapy and radiation is commonly used to treat anal cancer.
"If anal cancer is not treated early and effectively, the survival odds decrease and patients usually have to have major surgery to remove their anus and rectum," Dr. Sanchez said.
Cancer warriors battling anal cancer who didn't begin treatment early enough tend to need a permanent colostomy bag, a small pouch that collects waste from the body.
More on Anal Cancer
- Study: Anal Cancer, and Mortality Rates from the Disease, Have Increased — What’s Going On?
- “People Are Afraid to Talk About It Because of Where It Is”: Justine Almada Talks Anal Cancer Awareness
- If I’m The ‘Receptive’ Partner In Anal Sex, Am I At High Risk For Anal Cancer? The Answer May Surprise You
- ‘Controversial’ HPV Vaccine Shown to be Highly Effective in Wiping Out Cervical Cancer
- Anti-Vaxxers Spread Misinformation, Thwarting Cancer Prevention Made Possible by HPV Vaccine
- Breaking: HPV Vaccine Not Recommended For Adults Over 26, Per New American Cancer Society Guidelines
- Busting the Myths About the HPV Vaccine
Anal Cancer Risk Factors and Prevention
- Older age. Most cases occur in people over 50.
- Many sexual partners.
- Anal sex.
- History of cancer.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV infection increases your risk of several cancers including anal and cervical cancer.
- Drugs or conditions that suppress the immune system.
To reduce your risk of anal cancer: Practice safe sex, Stop Smoking, and Get the HPV vaccine. The American Cancer Society recommended that children aged 9-11 get the HPV vaccine, with catch-up vaccinations available for those up to age 26.