[Fox News] Patrick Swayze’s cancer diagnosis made his widow feel ‘like a nail was being hammered into’ her ‘own coffin’

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Patrick Swayze’s widow, Lisa Niemi Swayze, is sharing how she felt in the moments after learning her husband had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

While speaking to People about her partnership with the non-profit organization Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Lisa went into detail about what her frame of mind was like when she heard her husband’s diagnosis.

“It was the worst night of my life,” she told the outlet. “I know [Patrick] said, ‘I’m a dead man,’ but for me even, that night, I slept in the hospital room with him on the cot. I felt like a nail was being hammered into my own coffin. Your life turns on a dime, and there’s no escaping the reality of what that diagnosis means. It’s just awful. It’s just a dreadful moment.”

Lisa went on to explain that by the time Patrick was diagnosed, “it was impossible to turn around.” She added they were happy “he miraculously managed to survive 22 months after that.”

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Lisa explained “one of the things that got [her] through” the period of time following Patrick’s death in September 2009 was the constant reminder to herself that “people do this all the time.”

“And that’s as painful as it is because I thought, ‘This is going to kill me. Grief is going to kill me,’” she told People. “But you know what? It doesn’t kill everybody. If they can do it, so can I.”

In a separate interview on the “Amy and T.J. Podcast,” Lisa shared Patrick’s initial reaction to his cancer diagnosis, explaining he knew it wasn’t going to end well for him. She admitted she didn’t know much about pancreatic cancer, but that Patrick had known others who were diagnosed and died from it, and told her, “I’m a dead man,” shortly after hearing the news.

From the moment they heard the diagnosis, Lisa explained, “every ounce of energy we had was gonna go into helping him live.” 

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“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.”

Shortly after Patrick’s death, Lisa attended her first ever PurpleStride event, held by PanCan, in an effort to raise awareness of the disease and funding for research. 

Since then, she has maintained her connection to the organization, saying she does so “in honor of Patrick” and her commitment to “finish[ing] the fight that he fought so hard for, fought so hard to win.” She added that “just because he is gone, it doesn’t mean it’s over, and I want to keep it going for him.”

“I have deep admiration for everybody that shows up on these walks and continues this fight and continues the awareness, because it’s not easy,” she told People. “It brings up all these very painful feelings, like it does for me still. But you know what? We do it because we care about the ones who are in the fight. We care about the ones that we lost.”

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The five-year-survival rate for pancreatic cancer has risen to 13%, according to the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Facts & Figures 2024. However, Lisa says, “we’ve got to do better than that.”

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