Amid his painful battle with pancreatic cancer, Patrick Swayze was “going through hell,” but that didn’t prevented him from making in another television series.
In his first interview since his cancer diagnosis, the actor spoke to Barbara Walters about his struggle with cancer. He told her, “I’ve never been one to run from a challenge.”
However, the 56-year-old actor admitted to being terrified: “Yeah, I’m scared. Yeah, I’m angry. Yeah, I’m (asking), ‘Why me?'”
He added, “You can bet that I’m going through Hell.”
‘And I’ve only seen the beginning of it. There’s a lot of fear here. There’s a lot of stuff going on.’
His struggle began in late 2007. Swayze sensed something was awry while celebrating New Year’s Eve with his wife, Lisa Niemi.
“I tried to have champagne, and it would be like pouring acid, you know, on an open wound.”
Soon he found “my indigestion issues got gigantic and constant. And then I started thinking, I’m getting skinny. I dropped about 20 pounds in the blink of an eye. And then when you see it in the mirror, when all of a sudden, you pull your eyes down and the bottom of your eyes go yellow and jaundice sets in — then you know something’s wrong.”
Swayze felt he needed to see a doctor. “I started doing a little research and started realizing this is not pretty. This is not a good thing.”
Swayze had a cancerous tumor in his pancreas, according to doctors.
He was advised that surgery was not an option since the cancer had spread to his liver.
According to medical authorities, most people with this kind of cancer have fewer than six months to survive after being diagnosed.
Rather than staying in California, Swayze took a role as an undercover FBI agent in The Beast, a Chicago television series.
Despite the fact that most patients with advanced-stage pancreatic cancer have bleak prognosis, Swayze wasn’t one of them: “Watch me! You watch what I pull off!”
He would travel to Los Angeles for chemotherapy on weekends and return to the set on Monday mornings.
‘I just love to work hard,’ Swayze remarked of his determination to combat his disease.
‘I did find myself, at the end of the day, riding home sort of catching myself with a smile on my face. I’m proud of what I’m doing.
‘There’s more I want to do. Lots more. So I’d better get on with it.’
Dr. John Chabot of New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, one of the country’s top pancreatic cancer experts, refers to pancreatic cancer as the “silent killer” since it has few, if any, symptoms.
“One of the most important problems is we tend to diagnose it late. Fifty percent of people, when they’re diagnosed, the cancer has already spread to other organs, and there’s almost no chance of cure with current treatments.”
Swayze’s cancer had gone to his liver, so surgery to remove it was not an option. He started an intensive chemotherapy regimen that included the experimental medication Vatalanib.