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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...

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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

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