After Patrick Swayze died from complications of pancreatic cancer, his wife Lisa Niemi Swayze, vowed to spread awareness about the silent killer.
Since his death in 2009, Niemi Swayze has worked tirelessly to not only keep her late husband’s memory alive, but to warn others about the symptoms of pancreatic cancer.
“I still care and I know how tough Patrick’s and my journey was with this,” she said. “Cancer may have taken him, but it didn’t beat him. And I’m continuing his fight for him.”
Swayze was diagnosed with cancer in 2007, and in less than two years he was dead.
Niemi Swayze, who remarried in 2014, said the actor’s first symptoms were yellow eyes and digestive problems.
“He came to me and he said, ‘Do my eyes look yellow?’” she told TODAY.
He wanted to wait to visit the doctor, but Niemi Swayze insisted they go the following day because “yellow eyes just doesn’t sound normal.”
“We went to the doctor and the moment he looked at him and saw what was going on, he sent us immediately for a CT scan.”
“Then we had a grueling 24 hours to wait while we got the reports back. It was a really tough time. Your life just turns on a dime,” she recalled.
An endoscopic procedure confirmed Swayze had pancreatic cancer.
Since pancreatic cancer is one of the most difficult to treat, Niemi Swayze recalls most doctors prepared patients for the end. But the couple refused to accept the death sentence.
“We fought it for as long as his body could. It was a tough journey, but it was worth it. When you love someone and they’re on this Earth with you, every moment is precious. Every bit of fight we did was worth it for that extra time.”
On September 14, 2009, 20 months after he was diagnosed with cancer, Patrick Swayze died.
Since then Niemi Swayze has continued the fight to bring awareness to the rare, but deadly disease.
She has worked with Pancreatic Cancer Action Network since 2010 as well as advocated on Capitol Hill for more funding for research.
“Just because Patrick passed on … didn’t mean that fight was over, and I was carrying that on for him,” she said.
What Lisa Niemi Swayze is doing to bring awareness to this horrible disease is very much needed. It’s so important to know the first signs of pancreatic cancer, especially since it’s such a difficult disease to treat.
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