8 MAY 2009

American actor Ryan O'Neal has spoken candidly for the first time about his heartbreak over Farrah Fawcett's battle with cancer and reveals the experience has brought them closer together.

"I fell in love with her all over again because of how she handled this," explains the 68-year-old star. "The hope started to fade, but not for Farrah. She continued fighting. There was always a courage there, and a quiet dignity."

The actor - who found fame in 1970 tear-jerker Love Story, in which a newlywed lawyer finds his life in turmoil when his wife dies of cancer – says he is struggling with the thought of facing life without his long-time partner, who is now critically ill.

"I just don't know how to play this one. I won't know a world without her. It's a love story," he told US publication People. "I can't hear a song, I can't pass places that we were together without being stabbed in the heart."

Ryan, who had his own brush with leukaemia, continues: "A week ago Farrah said to me, 'Am I going to make it?'. I said, 'Yes, you'll make it. And if you don't I'll go with you'."

The story of the 62-year-old former Charlie's Angels actress' struggle with the disease is recorded in a two-hour documentary entitled Farrah's Story, due to air in the US on May 15.

Photo: Getty Images
"I fell in love with her all over again because of how she handled this," says Ryan, pictured with the former Charlie's Angels star in 2004