Dozens of cancer survivors and those affected by cancer gathered at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills on Friday night for the Farrah Fawcett Foundation’s Tex-Mex Fiesta, celebrating the legacy of the iconic actress who died from anal cancer in 2009.
This year’s star-studded event honored Marcia Cross, who was diagnosed with anal cancer last year. After more than a year of keeping quiet, the “Desperate Housewives” star is finally speaking out about her experience in an effort to de-stigmatize the disease – and the anus.
“I’m gonna tell you that I now love and cherish my anus and you should all cherish yours,” Cross told Variety on the red carpet. “And we need to all stop being embarrassed about it because we’re all gifted with a beautiful anus. Think about every time it works for you, there’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
Cross continued to sing her anus’s praises while on stage to accept her award, thanking Fawcett for paving the way for speaking about the disease so openly. “I so wish Farrah was here tonight, so together we could smash the last body-shaming taboo in our culture and elevate the anus to the exalted position it deserves,” she said. “We’re blessed with doubles of many things – arms, legs, breasts, lungs, and kidneys to name but a few – but we are only gifted one anus.”
She went on to commend the body part in jokingly exaggerated form, noting that people shouldn’t use the word “a–hole” as an insult “because the a–hole is one of God’s most extraordinary creations.”
“Without the daily brilliance of its opening and closing and its glorious undulating of its tender tissues, we would all be up sh-t’s creek without a paddle,” she continued. “Love your anus, worship it daily. It’s the key to your health, freedom, and dignity.”
Attendees at this year’s charity event — including Jaclyn Smith, Melanie Griffith, Shannen Doherty, and John Kapelos — enjoyed a performance from Thelma Houston and a live auction hosted by Billy Baldwin, where generous guests bid to take home one-of-a-kind art pieces made by Fawcett, in addition to a trip to Maui and a catered dinner party for 12 people. Cross’s “Desperate Housewives” co-stars Eva Longoria, Laura Leighton and Doug Savant, showed support for their long-time friend.
“We have a growing list of people who are in the fight against cancer so I don’t think we can pour enough resources and funding to fight all these various types of cancers,” Savant told Variety. “Any time we can help and support and lend our names in the fight against cancer, we’re here.”
Leighton added that spreading awareness for HPV-related cancers is particularly important, noting that the HPV virus causes 91% of anal cancers and is entirely preventable.”It’s important that people understand early detection and how much is available for protection, especially for the HPV,” she said. “There are vaccinations now that weren’t available for the older generations.”
Hope Willard (daughter of actor Fred Willard) also took aim at anti-vaxxers while on stage to commemorate her mother Mary, who died suddenly last year from heart failure, and was President of Farrah’s Angels, a fundraising group for the charity. “Get your kids vaccinated!” she yelled to the crowd before beginning her prepared speech.
While many attendees were there to commemorate their own loved ones lost to cancer, Fawcett’s legacy remained the center of the night’s events.
“Farrah was one of the strongest, most determined, bravest people I ever met. So courageous. And she never let the cancer get her down,” Alana Stewart, Fawcett’s close friend and the president and CEO of the foundation, said. “She was so much bigger than life that you didn’t think anything could take her and the cancer did, so we work every day to keep her memory alive and help other people.”