The former "Charlie's Angels" actress was first diagnosed with anal cancer in 2006. She has been undergoing treatment both in the United States and Germany for the disease, but O'Neal recently confirmed the cancer had spread to other parts of her body and she is now bed-ridden.
Asked how long he and Fawcett maintained their optimism about her beating the disease, O'Neal told NBC's "Today" show in interviews to air this week: "For a couple of years. She was athletic and healthy and hungry and beautiful.
"Everything was just as you remember about her. The first time I ever noticed, I walked with her and (our son) Redmond on the beach one day," O'Neal said, recalling an episode that took place about five or six months ago. "We used to take that walk all the time to the rocks and back. And halfway there she stopped and said, 'Can we go back?' And Red and I looked at each other and we knew that … See she could fool you because she always looked good. She looked really good. And he used to say to me: 'She'll be all right. Look how nice she looks.'"
O'Neal said he doesn't think he can appropriately describe his enduring relationship with Fawcett.
"I know this, that in the last two years, I loved her more than I've ever loved her -- ever," he said. "She's so much more of a woman and a powerful, courageous, fearless and all those adjectives. And I look at her with awe."