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Patrick Swayze's widow Lisa Niemi Swayze says star knew he was 'a dead man' upon hearing cancer diagnosis

Patrick Swayze's widow, Lisa Niemi Swayze, opened up about how the two of them reacted to his pancreatic cancer diagnosis, adding the actor knew it wasn't going to end well for him.

Patrick Swayze's widow, Lisa Niemi Swayze, is opening up about the difficult journey following his cancer diagnosis.

During a recent appearance on the "Amy and T.J. Podcast," Lisa shared Patrick's initial reaction to hearing he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January 2008.

"When he first found out he had pancreatic cancer he turned to me and said, 'I’m a dead man,'" Lisa said on the podcast. "I didn’t know much about pancreatic cancer, but he did, and from what he knew anytime you heard someone had had pancreatic cancer it was like, 'Well, he’s out of here.'"

She further explained the actor's doctors were able to confirm his diagnosis following an endoscopic procedure, after which they informed her of his condition, leaving her to wonder when the right time was to tell her husband.


After finding out about her husband's diagnosis, she shared he was still "pretty knocked out," and she didn't want to "tell him when he was woozy." She chose instead to wait, adding when she woke up from a nap in the hospital room a few hours later she found "the doctor was sitting across from him, and he was in the bed," saying, "I knew the doctor had just told him."

"Sure enough, the doctor said you can go ahead and treat it and be as aggressive as you want, but do think about getting your affairs in order sooner rather than later. That's a tough thing to hear," she told the "Amy and T.J. Podcast."

From then on, Lisa explained "every ounce of energy we had was gonna go into helping him live." Her first instinct was to call her sister-in-law, who worked as an oncologist in Texas, and suggested getting Patrick into a clinical trial and to "come out with guns blazing."

Aside from the ways they treated his cancer medically, Lisa explained they tried their hardest to remain positive.


"Your life turns on a dime, and it’s just never gonna be the same after that," she explained. "Everything shifted. We always called ourselves optimistic realists, because we knew in all likelihood how this was gonna turn out, but we held out that he would be the one to make it through it, because miracles do happen. We kept so positive about everything, but I tell you what, it was like living in a complete nightmare 24/7."

While it was important for them to remain positive, Lisa admitted it was hard for her at times, saying she would occasionally cry, but only in private. She told the podcast hosts, Patrick only saw her cry once, and that "it scared him," so she tried not to let him catch her again.

One moment that was particularly heartbreaking for Lisa was when the two of them were walking together at their New Mexico ranch, and he was telling her how much he would like to go camping one last time. 

"We’re walking along. It’s a beautiful day, and he looked at me with tears in his eyes, he said, 'I want to live,'" she said.


The couple met when Lisa was 15 and Patrick was 19, at his mother's ballet school in Houston, Texas, later getting married in 1975. The two were together for 34 years, with Lisa staying by his side until his death in September 2009.

"She was different than anyone I'd known. Like a flower. If I started my macho stuff, she'd cut me off fast," Patrick told People in 1984. "I'd be dead without her. She helped me break my self-destructive tendencies. I was an insecure little baby. I don't ever see us apart. She's my creative partner."

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