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September 10th, 2009 by Dr. Phil

Patrick Swayze: Another Loss from Cancer

AP Photo

AP Photo

I would be remiss if I let this week pass without saying something about the death of Patrick Swayze. What I admired about my fellow Texan was that he fought the good fight and didn’t seem to let the disease of cancer dominate the time he had left. During his fight to survive, Patrick not only raised awareness about pancreatic cancer, he still continued to work up until his death, shooting his drama series, The Beast, and writing a memoir with his wife, Lisa.

As the nation grieves the loss of this gifted man, my heart goes out to the many individuals dealing with a similar devastating diagnosis. September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and according to the American Cancer Society, more than 10,700 kids will be diagnosed with the dreaded disease this year. Those statistics are heart-breaking. As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, Kate McRae is a 5-year-old battling brain cancer. While her parents, Holly and Aaron, pray for her recovery, they also journal about the realities of her condition. You can still follow their very powerful updates here.

I’ve always said that when someone gets cancer, the whole family “gets” cancer, because they are impacted with the emotional challenges of the disease. That means the whole family has to actively cope. If you’re going through the devastation of watching someone you love fight cancer, never forget that it’s OK to feel angry or resentful at what has happened. But at the same time you cannot let the emotions consume you.

What’s more, you will most likely need to redefine the relationship with your ailing loved one. You have to come to a new understanding of what is “normal.” Before, you may have gone for walks in the park or had movie nights, whereas now you’re visiting the oncology clinic and sitting in waiting rooms. And as hard as it may be to see your father or daughter in pain, you have to accept that he or she is not invincible. It’s especially tough to watch a parent struggle with a terminal illness, considering that you’re used to seeing him or her in the role of a caretaker. We never know when our time is up, so make sure you say the things that you need to say before your loved one passes. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

No one likes talking about the dreaded C word, but I promise you, you don’t have to feel powerless when confronted with disease. If you have a terminally ill relative, and you aren’t sure what to do, let me hear from you. Or if you want to share your remembrances of the great Patrick Swayze, then do it here. He will be sorely missed.

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75 Responses to “Patrick Swayze: Another Loss from Cancer”

  1. Dick P - Spencer, IND says:

    Like other people, I have seen “Dirty Dancing” umpteen times. Pat was awesome in it, thanks to his ballet lessons, looks and co-star. I can not say enough about him in that film.

    But my comment is the memory line he said in “Road House”. When he was looking at a 1957 Chevy and he said, “I used to have one like it”. I cracked up. Of course he was talking about the one he drove in “DD”.

    Pat, you showed courage until the end. God bless you and your family. You will be missed.

    PS – I did not know that was his wife staring with him in that desert movie.

    DP – Spencer, IND

  2. Jennifer says:

    I was shocked and upset to heat the Patrick Swayze passed away. If anyone could of beaten this cancer I thought it was him. What a wonderful marriage he had with his wife. I feel so sorry for her. But at least she got to spend 30+ years with him.

    I had never heard of Patrick Swayze until I watched Dirty Dancing and I fell in love with him then. I wanted to to “Baby” Jennifer Gray!!! What a wonderful actor and dancer he was.

    Again I am sorry for his family and his wife’s loss. May God be with you during this tough time!!!

  3. Judy Gafford says:

    I, too, am saddened by the passing of Patrick Swayze. I have seen DD and Roadhouse more times than I can even remember.Loved his talent, his energy, and his living it to the fullest up to the last moment. And he did. But what saddens me as well is the #’s of people who suffer with Cancer. It has hit our family as well many times and just a couple of days ago I went to the funeral of a 4 year old boy who had Neuroblastoma. Brain Cancer. Two of our sweet grandlovies also have brain/optic tumors and I am telling you, life is so precious. They are doing Ok right now, but it is like waiting for the shoe to drop. Whatever we can do to get the word out and champion for a cure, we need to do.

  4. Kathy says:

    So sad to hear about patricks passing. I’ve loved him 4-ever. Ya know, I think it’s great that he has been married all these years to his high school sweetheart, and wonder how he ever kept the tabloids out of his life (for the most part). Super actor, super guy, Sweet peace to him!

  5. metak8 says:

    Major organ cancer diagnoses like pancreatic are immediate death sentences; these patients are living on borrowed time. Next up: Steve Jobs – won’t live past 2011.

  6. Cindy Denney says:

    It breaks my heart when I hear of familys with children battling cancer. It just breaks my heart. I pray everynight, for all familys having to watch there babies fight for there lifes. I thank the lord every day and night for my childrens health & mine and my husbands health, to be able to take care of them and be there for them and watch them grow. The worst thing ever would be to loose a child. And my heart, thoughts and prayers go out to the familys. And the children….no matter the cause of there suffering, I pray everynight for our children.

    My brother in law passed away the day before P. Swayze. Died in his sleep of a heart attack…..about 3 weeks before he had been diagnosed with lung cancer. We didnt know this untill he passed. He didnt tell us, he didnt want us to worry. Im glad he didint have to suffer and fight a loosing battle for 2 or 3 years. We miss him and love him so much

  7. Mickey Thompson says:

    Patrick Swayze was my “teen heart-throb”! I actually cried when I heard the news. He was such a gifted and talented actor and no doubt he will be missed greatly!

  8. PBTaylor says:

    It was very sad to lose this great actor. He was one of a kind, and will be miss by many.

    May he rest in peace, and may God comfort his family in their time of loss.


  9. Gloria Taylor says:

    I would like to express my feelings about loss of Patrick Swayze. I enjoyed watching all of his movies. To me Patrick was a person I would have loved to be his friend. He showed all of us that we don’t have to give up living because we are diagnosed with a disease,instead he continue working a great trooper that he is. I remember watching his last interview with Barbara Walters. Both Patrick and his wife were very gracious and honest with the questions that Barbara asked. I know now that Patrick is in a better place and cured of this awful disease. God Bless, Patrick and his family.

  10. Kelli says:

    My Grandma and best friend was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer right before Christmas in Dec 06 and died April 9, 2007, 2wk after her and Grandpa’s 50th anniversary. I was in the Air Force and wasn’t here when she died, but I was here 2wks before for their 50th anniversary! We have amazing pictures of all of our families and the grand-kids on that night and I will never ever forget what she meant to me and the entire family in the 67yrs she was with us! I was saddened for Patrick’s family after he was diagnosed because I knew, to some extent, what they would go through! I hope his life since diagnosis wasn’t one of daily suffering, but one that allowed him to enjoy his family, friends and the life that he had! I hope they develop ways to find this earlier, save major pain and get people into remission!

  11. Sandra Marlar says:

    Patrick was my all-time fav actor. I started liking him in North & South. My husband took me to see “Dirty Dancing” for our 1st anniversary in 1987, of course I have seen that movie now some 100+ more times. My heart broke when I heard he had passed, yes I cried. The movie world has truly lost a talented actor, there are none like him and never will be. My prayers to Lisa and the family.

  12. i was saddened from the first time i heard it on the news.i knew it was one of the worst cancers to fight and the most painful.i was so surprised but happy he hung on as lon as he did.the last interviews with barbara walters broke my heart especially for his wife who broke down and cried a couple of times when asked how she would go on without him.such a touching love story that is very rare in hollywood or with actors but they proved it can still happen.i hope she finds peace and can live out the rest of her life happy and just remember all of her good memories.may patrick rest in peace.he will be missed.

  13. Sharon Gross says:

    What can we say about Patrick Swayze? He touched so many lives and stayed so strong during his illness. I was hoping and praying that he would beat this, he didn’t let it stop him from living and doing what he wanted to do. He and his wife had a beautiful relationship that lasted many years. I watched them on Barbara Walter’s interview and was so touched at their love and frankness about what they were battling and going through and how much they loved each other. I know that this is so hard on his wife, I pray for comfort for her and that she realizes that they had something special, and all the many memories to help her through. He will be missed greatly and I will always and forever think of him leaving like he did in the last scene in Ghost, and I will cry. God bless you Patrick, rest in peace.

  14. Sandy says:

    My heart went out to him and his wife Lisa when I first heard the news. My dad passed away on Oct. 12, 2007 from pancreatic cancer after a 10 month battle with it. Patrick really put up a huge fight and has given hope to many who are and have been diagnosed with this deadly disease. Cancer is such an awful thing. My 48 year old brother just passed away on July 10, 2009 after only being diagnosed with Leukemia one month before. I wish we could find a cure!

  15. my heart goes out to his family , my father died of cancer 2 and a half years ago . I hope one day be can beat this fatal illness . Dr.Phil one of your shows on remembering his life . He never gave up . I live with all the special moments we shared instead of jan 1 /2007 the day he loss his fight with cancer
    thank you Dr.phil
    I learn something new everyday on your show

  16. R. F. says:

    My heartfelt condolences to his family. Patrick, you fought hard; now your suffering is over and you can Rest In Peace. Thanks for giving us Dirty Dancing; Too Wong Foo; etc. You will be deeply missed..

  17. justnancy (nancy031394) says:

    I lost my mother to pancreatic cancer in 2001. At the age of 70, she literally went from being a fit, active woman who taught aerobics to being paralyzed. In a way, it was a mercy that after that the progression was quick, even though I would have done anything and everything to keep her with us even one day longer! I slept on the couch at the foot of her bed for the next month and barely left her side until she passed. I say it was a mercy because my mother was a woman who HATED hospitals and hated being incapacitated.

    And, I never would have imagined this, but I was actually far less afraid of death myself after the experience. My mother had a strong faith in Jesus and in that final month, it was like God swept in ~ in this HUGE way ~ and made His presence felt ~ even to me, who was way backslid and tinkering with agnosticism at the time. (I did not deserve the goodness that accompanied me during that dark and draining time.) My mother never wanted to leave this earth ~ she loved her life, her children and her grandchildren way too much for that ~ however, when she realized it was time to go, she got ready and she got ready fast. In my mother’s tremendous compassion, it was as though she was actually teaching us how to deal with things. She was teaching us how to be strong and unafraid. (For instance, in the hospital, after a spinal tap, a procedure that I’ve seen make grown biker men tremble, I asked her how things went and she said rather off-handedly, “It wasn’t that bad.”)

    I was grateful for Patrick Swayze’s strong example as well. He was eloquent and dignified.

    I did feel very angry at the disease, too. And, very swept away by the grief that overwhelmed me after my mother’s passing. It was UNFAIR. It was brutally unfair.

    The worst thing that could have happened to my mother happened ~ she went to heaven. Even though I felt major pain and grief, I did not feel despair. And, there’s a big difference.

    My condolences go out to anyone who has lost a friend or family member to pancreatic cancer. I agree with what’s been said by others about remembering and honoring our loved ones ~ cherishing their memories and cherishing their memories, if possible, with joy.

  18. C.G. says:

    Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to his wife Lisa & all of his family. Patrick Was a very courageous man & an inspiration to all of us and especially those who are fighting their own health ect: battles. I truly loved his Quote in Ghost the Love you take it with you. You will be greatly missed Patrick by many.

  19. vince says:

    i find it hard to beleive hes gone but he will live forever in my heart doc, i love all his movies he made and have most of them from cassette to dvd, ill charrish them forever.

  20. Mary says:

    Patrick was a great actor. He had alot of courage and inspiration to fight this evil cancer that eventually took his life. The fact that he kept on going despite his pain, and suffering, shows us all that no matter what illness strikes us, we need not give up! Patrick did just that. I loved him in Dirty Dancing, “Ghost”. Yep, he took our love with him. My heart and thoughts go out to his lovely wife Lisa and the rest of his family. I am very happy he got to spend 30 years with her. Blessed be, Patrick!

  21. Julie says:

    I’m a bit behind in my reading/correspondence, but I could not let another day go by without commenting on Patrick Swayze’s death. I absolutely loved him in Dirty Dancing and Ghost. What I admired most about him is his devotion to his wife of over 30 yrs. He was a true gentleman and a great actor. He will be missed.

  22. I. Yasonia says:

    I too feel that we have lost a great actor. However, I do feel compelled to point out the fact that, even tho Patrick Swayze lost his life from pancreatic cancer, he was and continued to be a heavy smoker up until his death. I don’t know whether or not there is a link between the 2 cancers. However, if one chooses to fight the cancer they do have, one would think they’d do everything in their power to lead as healthy a life as possible. I seem to recall reading an article in which he stated that he just didn’t care about his smoking and fully intended to continue. Choosing to continue to smoke heavily, in my opinion, sealed his fate.

  23. Sarah Putney says:

    My heart goes out to Patrick Swayzes wife. Patrick Swayze once again shows the unbelievable strength that I have seen with most people who have/are battling cancer.

    I want to thankyou Dr Phil for doing a show in re to pediatric cancer and sharing Kate Mcraes story. I have been following her Caringbridge page for the last couple of months along with other children fighting this horrible disease. While I am blessed/thankful to have 4 healthy children, God has given me a real compassion/empathy for these kids and their parents. The one thing that I read over and over from these parents of kids with cancer is the lack of funding to help find a cure. As well as being able to get the word out so that people know just how serious of a problem this is with kids. These kids and their parents are heros to me. Reading and hearing what these children go through every day as well as their parents is heartbreaking/wrenching. Every week I read of at least 3 or kids that have lost their battle with cancer. And I only read a very small number of these kids journals. Thankyou Dr Phil for making this a topic. Continuing the prayes for Kate Mcrae.

  24. NJ Viewer says:

    I finally had time to watch Kate & her family yesterday. I’ve followed Kate’s blog for months but have not had time to read since Thanksgiving week. I knew the family would be on your show; I did not know when. I was pulling email from your show the day it was on and happened to see the email with the week’s episodes just in time to make sure it got recorded.

    My dad was diagnosed with Leukemia 6/2005, passed 2/2006. My FIL was diagnosed 2/2006 passed the same month. MIL diagnosed 2/2007 & is currently fighting. My hubby was diagnosed in 8/2009 & just finished treatment; it’s why I haven’t been to the McRae blog. He was admitted with complications the day before your show on Kate.

    No matter what we’ve been through; we think of Kate and her family and know we could have it worst. Our hearts go out to them. I cry every time I read the blog; some days tears of joy.. when Kate pee’s; others tears where my heart is breaking; like when she is throwing up so bad that her tube comes out.

    I don’t know how Patrick was able to work during treatment. We were going to read the book by he & his wife but were not able to justify spending the money when we saw it. Hopefully once we catch up financially we can get it.

    I hope Lisa is doing well. My heart goes out to her.

  25. Melanie says:

    September is not only National Child Cancer Awareness month, but it is also Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. We need to pay attention to this “silent” cancer. Symptoms of ovarian cancer mimic the symptoms of other illnesses. If I had known this back in 2007, I wouldn’t have waited months before having a CT scan that diagnosed it. Unfortunately for most women, this type of cancer is usually not found until it is in the final stage – Stage IV, and that usually means a death sentence. I was very fortunate and almost three years later I’m still alive and in remission from this deadly disease. I will be celebrating three years of post cancer surgery in September 2010 and I’m very happy and very, very lucky to be alive.

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