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Patrick Swayze’s Widow Lisa Niemi Says ‘Everything Shifted’ After His Cancer Diagnosis

Patrick Swayze’s Widow Lisa Niemi Swayze Speaks Out About Late Actor’s 2009 Death
Lisa Niemi and Patrick Swayze. Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage

Patrick Swayze’s widow, Lisa Niemi, is reflecting on the late actor’s cancer battle before his 2009 death.

“You know, when he first found out he had pancreatic cancer he turned to me and said, ‘I’m a dead man,’” Niemi, 67, said during an appearance on the “Amy and T.J. Podcast” on Monday, April 8. “Because 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.’”

Niemi continued: “And, sure enough, the doctor said, ‘You know, 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.’”

Swayze and Niemi were married for 34 years before he died at age 57. More than a decade after his death, Niemi is “still hanging in there,” confessing that “it’s not always easy” to speak about her late husband.

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“It brings up memories that are, you know, not all that pleasant,” she explained. “But I tell you what, I know what these people feel like to fight for somebody they love. And to do it with a disease that has so little resources. It’s like, ‘Yeah, we all got to go at some point but give us a fighting chance.’”

Following Swayze’s diagnosis, his family put “every ounce of energy we had” into finding him treatment. Niemi immediately reached out to her sister-in-law, an oncologist, who recommended enrolling the actor in a clinical trial.

Patrick Swayze’s Widow Lisa Niemi Swayze Speaks Out About Late Actor’s 2009 Death
Bob Riha, Jr./Getty Images

“Your life turns on a dime, and it’s just never gonna be the same after that,” Niemi told cohosts Amy Robach, who previously battled breast cancer, and T.J. Holmes. “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.”

Niemi is now dedicated to “bringing awareness” to pancreatic cancer and its symptoms because “the earlier you catch it, the better.” When it comes to treatment, however, results may vary.

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“What works for one person may not work for another,” she said, adding, “Which is why this targeted therapy and molecular profiling and everything to help direct patients towards the treatment that’s going to work best for them.”

After the loss of her first husband, Us Weekly confirmed in 2014 that Niemi married jeweler Albert DePrisco. Fans gave Niemi “a lot of flack” for moving on.

“There are some pretty rabid Patrick fans out there who think I’m evil or just don’t like me because I was married to him. … You just learn to deal with it and move on,” she said on Monday, adding that “life’s too short” not to fall in love again. “I was so tempted so many times to say, ‘Hey girlfriend, stand in my shoes. Tell me about it. Go ahead. Tell me just because I lost my husband that I don’t love him anymore.’ How could you say that?”

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