Published January 06, 2009
"There's a lot of fear here," Swayze, 56, tells Barbara Walters in an interview to air Wednesday night. "There's a lot of stuff going on. Yeah, I'm scared. Yeah, I'm angry. Yeah, I'm [asking] why me. Yeah, I'm all this stuff. You can bet that I'm going through hell. And I've only seen the beginning of it."
Swayze tells Walters about the first time he remembers feeling ill, celebrating New Year's Eve at the end of 2007 with wife Lisa Niemi. "I tried to have champagne, and it would be like pouring acid, you know, on an open wound."
Swayze's "indigestion issues got gigantic and constant," he says. "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."
The actor says his doctors discovered a malignant tumor in his midsection and a small mass on his liver. Soon after, they diagnosed Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
Swayze's recovery has been described by the actor himself as "a miracle." Fellow actor Michael Landon succumbed to pancreatic cancer in 1991 less than three months after it was diagnosed. Swayze has not only regained strength and weight, he has continued to work on his A&E series "The Beast."
"What winning is to me is not giving up, is no matter what's thrown at me, I can take it," says Swayze. "And I can keep going."
Not surprisingly, Swayze has been dealing with issues of mortality as well.
"I don't know what's on the other side. It tests everything I believe in … that here is something unique in all of us that does not, does not die."