Patrick Swayze died aged 57 after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. His widow, Lisa Niemi Swayze, revealed the agony of her loss in her bookWorth Fighting For...
In Worth Fighting For, Lisa Niemi Swayze talks candidly about her husband Patrick’s battle with pancreatic cancer.
There can be few more disturbing physical changes encountered by cancer sufferers than those of Hollywood actor Patrick Swayze shortly before his death in September 2009.
Looking gaunt, old and almost unrecognisable from the young actor who made his name as the sexy, hip-swinging dance teacher in the iconic film Dirty Dancing, it was clear this was the fight of his life. Several pictures of him in a book about his battle with pancreatic cancer paint a bleak picture.
Yet it’s his widow, Lisa Niemi Swayze, to whom he was married for 34 years, who decided to include those pictures to illustrate her book Worth Fighting For – a memoir charting her husband’s illness from initial diagnosis to tragic end, encompassing his periods of dramatic weight loss and the couple’s attempts to fend off the paparazzi.
The pictures were included because she wanted to tell the truth, to provide some guidance for those going through similar situations.
Today, the attractive, blonde 55-year-old former dancer, actress and director reflects that she wanted to explain the 21 months he suffered the disease from a caregiver’s point of view, in order to give support to others facing the same ordeal.
“If you can’t do something constructive from a terrible situation then you’re dishonouring the experience. Some people write a song, others bring an acting part to it, well, I wrote a book.”
When Swayze was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer early in 2008, following symptoms of indigestion and jaundice, it was already at an advanced stage.
As soon as the couple received the diagnosis, he said: “I’m a dead man”. But he never gave up on life and it didn’t stop him embarking on a number of different treatments and making the most of every day.
During those months, Swayze and Lisa renewed their wedding vows, went flying together (they were both pilots), saw the birth of a number of foals on their New Mexico ranch, and he even made a TV series, The Beast, in which he played a macho cop with plenty of fight scenes.
“When he got ill he became an even better person than he already
The couple met and fell in love as teenagers