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Patrick Swayze:

Patrick Swayze was born on August 18th, 1952 in Houston, Texas. Patrick was one of four and he lived along witpatrick-swayze.jpgh his parents Patsy and Jesse Swayze. Swayze’s mother was the director of a dance company and Patrick developed a love for dancing at an early age. Swayze’s athletics and studies often got in the way of ballet, and upon graduating Swayze was offered athletic and dancing scholarships to multiple colleges. He attended San Jacinto College where Swayze left school to tour with the Disney on Parade ice show. After touring, Swayze moved to New York to become a dancer, he married hiSwayze.jpgs love Lisa Niemi (also a dancer) in 1975 in New York where they continued to train and dance for Joffrey Ballet Company. Swayze, soon after, was hired as a principal dancer with the Eliot Feld Ballet Company, although it was not long until a football injury in need of operation caused him leave the Eliot Feld Ballet Company. In 1976 Swayze returned to the stage, although not as a dancer. Swayze appeared in the Broadway classic Goodtime Charley and later West Side Story and Grease. After his Broadway debuts Swayze began receiving many offers for TV and movie roles. Hollywood was calling his name and after many other roles on the big screen he landed his most known role in the hit movie, Dirty Dancing. This movie role made Swayze a huge star in no time at all. Movie and TV roles were never-ending for Swayze until the 1990’s rolled in with a bang. Patrick Swayze’s career seemed to be headed in a downward spiral after the death of his sister and dealing with alcohol troubles. In the 2000s Swayze came back out on top in 2008 with a lead role in television show, The Beast. In 2008 Swayze was also diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In September of 2009 Patrick Swayze lost his battle with pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic Cancer:

Stages, Descriptions, Treatments and Survival Rates of Pancreatic Cancer


Pancreatic Cancer tends to be at first, silent and painless. That is what makes it so dangerous, by the time symptoms arise, it is most likely too late and the cancer has metastastasized. The symptoms include weight loss, jaundice, fat in your stool, and abdominal pain. Pancreatic cancer can be found in either the head or the tail of the pancreas, and the symptoms can vary with the location, generally, symptoms appear faster if the cancer is in the head of the pancreas. Since the pancreas is located around the digestive system the most common symptoms are abdominal pain, back pain, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and steatorrhea. When pancreatic cancer spreads, weight loss, malaise, loss of appetite, and elevated blood sugar become the most common and severe symptoms.

Pancreatic Cancer is most commonly a disease caused by DNA mutations. It is nearly impossible to determine pancreatic_cancer.jpgthe exact cause of a person’s pancreatic cancer. Studies have shown that smoking can form mutations in our DNA that can put you at an increase risk for pancreatic cancer. Smoking is also changing other risk factors, for example as more women begin smoking; more women are developing pancreatic cancer. Other known risk factors for pancreatic cancer include:
  1. age: risk increases with age
  2. race: more common with African American population
  3. chronic pancreatitis (this is the long-term inflammation of the pancreas)
  4. diabetes: both a symptom and a cause
  5. obesity
  6. diet: excess meats, fried foods and cholesterol increase risk while fruits and vegetables decrease risk


In 2009, the American Cancer Society estimated that there are 42,470 new cases of pancreatic cancer; 21,050 in men and 21,420 in women. Pancreatic Cancer has a high mortality rate, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine in 2008, “This year 38,000 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and about 34,000 will die from it”. Unfortunately Pancreatic Cancer is very serious and as National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) states, "Ninety-five percent of the people diagnosed with this cancer will not be alive 5 years later". Statistically, Pancreatic Cancer is the eighth leading cause of cancer related death in the world; in the United States however, the rate is much higher and is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths. This cancer is responsible for 6% of all cancer-related deaths. The highest individual incidence rate is a black male living in the United States. More indepth statistics can be found at: (


Treatments for Pancreatic Cancer differ depending on the stage and the confinement of the cancer. If the cancer is contained to the head of the pancreas, surgery is often the method selected. The sugery, pancreatoduodenectomy, removes the head of the pancreas. Recovery times vary, however often require a hospital stay of at least 10 days followed by several weeks before you start feeling much better. If the cancer is in the body or tail of the pancreas, the surgeon may have to also remove your spleen, greatly increasing the risk. Other treatments include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and clinical trials. Radiation therapy is often combined with chemotherapy and is only used if surgery is not an option. Targeted therapy, "uses drugs that attack specific abnormalities within cancer cells" (Mayo Clinic).

There are many different clinical trials available for pancreatic cancer. One new drug being tried is called LY2603618. The patients in this clinical study are given that drug exactly 24 hours after gemcitabine. This drug in particular is just for patients whose cancer metastasized and cannot undergo surgery. This study proves that the knowledge of pancreatic cancer is increasing every day and the hope of survival is increasing too.

Patrick Swayze died from his Pancreatic Cancer on September 14, 2009 at the age of 57. Swayze was a chronic smoker, reportedly a “60-a-day” smoker throughout most of his adult life. Smoking is a significant risk factor for pancreatic cancer, according to the national cancer institute, cigarette smokers are two to three times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than nonsmokers. As part of treatment Swayze tried an experimental drug called vatalanib, a drug that inhibits the enzyme activity that promotes cancer cell growth and proliferation. The drug has yet to be approved for pancreatic cancer and clinical trials are ongoing. Patrick took vatalanib as well as completing vigorous bouts of chemotherapy.
After Swayze’s death, millions of people around the world wanted to help remember him, thus the “Patrick Swayze Pancreas Research Fund” was established. The Stanford Cancer Center started this fund in September of 2009 immediately following his death. Swayze's widow, Lisa Niemi stated on his international fan club page ( that “This center will expedite application of emerging technologies and the development of molecular targeted therapies all focused on pancreas cancer”.

Patrick Swayze may have lost his batte to cancer but we will never forget him. Swayze was a great actor and dancer and his memory will live on forever. We will never stop our fight against cancer. We learn more every day and with knowledge comes responsibility. Smoking is one of the most common risk factors for cancer in general and people need to know that. Patrick Swayze was a role model to cancer victims everywhere, he lived past one year, something many pancreatic cancer victims fail to do. He fought to the end and now his fund is carrying on his fight. RIP Patrick Swayze.

Sources for information and pictures:

*abbreviated sources are given at end of each paragraph, below is full works cited*