Patrick Swayze's Cancer Is 'Hell on Wheels'
(Oct. 29) -- For the first time since announcing to the world that he was facing a very tough fight with pancreatic cancer, Patrick Swayze is opening up about his daily struggle with the disease as he promotes his new police show 'The Beast.'
In an interview with the New York Times, Swayze implies that while he should probably be tempted to take it easy (pancreatic cancer has a slim 5 percent survival rate), his drive doesn't allow him to do so. "I just love to work hard," he says.
"I'm still fine to work, I haven't changed -- oh, I have changed, what am I saying? It's a battle zone I go through. Chemo, no matter how you cut it, is hell on wheels," Swayze says.
Swayze, who shot to fame in the '80s and '90s with roles in such classics as 'The Outsiders,' 'Ghost' and 'Dirty Dancing,' says it's the hard work that makes him happy. "I do 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," he said.
Swayze said at first he disregarded the discomfort and symptoms his disease was causing. "Then all of a sudden real symptoms start showing up. You see it in the mirror and you go: 'O.K., better go get checked out.'" Swayze then said he "had gastro-intestinal pain," which led to getting a biopsy. "Hello, goodbye, welcome to my world," he jokes.
At 56 years old, Swayze has had to work even harder at staying healthy while battling his disease. Thanks to "muscle-building shakes," he's been able to gain back 20 pounds from his lowest weight since his treatment started.
As for his leading role in 'The Beast,' it marks Swayze's first regular return to television since 1985's 'North and South.'
"I wanted something that's going to challenge me on a constant basis. To be honest, I've made a game out of trying to live through my James Dean, Janis Joplin, Freddie Prinze, Jim Morrison period, those demons that we all have that we're either successful or not at making work for us rather than destroy us," Swayze says.
Aside from regular chemotherapy treatment, Swayze is also on an experimental drug called Vatalanib. It seems to be working well, prompting his doctors to clear him to work.
And it's work that's keeping him hopeful. "How do you nurture a positive attitude when all the statistics say youТre a dead man?" Swayze asked. "You go to work."
Despite all of his previous success, Swayze says he's not done leaving his stamp on life.
"There is probably that little bird that flies through your insides and says, 'I sure would like to make a mark in life.' I've made a pretty decent mark so far -- nothing to scoff at. But it does make you think: Wait a minute. There's more I want to do. Lots more. Get on with it."