Published January 14, 2015
Patrick Swayze's friends and family are stunned and inspired by how bravely the actor is coping with pancreatic cancer.
"I was looking in his eyes and I didn't see a flicker (of fear)," when Swayze was discussing his options during a conference call five weeks ago, the actor's brother Don, also an actor, tells People magazine's next issue, on stands Friday, according to USA Today.
Don tells People the "Dirty Dancing" star was taken by surprise by his diagnosis. He had noticed slight weight loss and minor jaundice, but wasn't alarmed.
"It was almost like, 'Hey, it's time to get a checkup anyway; this would be a good time,'" Don says. The diagnosis "came out of left field because it seemed like he would know if there was something really drastic."
As soon as Swayze, 55, and his wife, Lisa Niemi, 51, learned that the "Ghost" star had pancreatic cancer, they took some time to deal with the news.
"But he's moving forward," Maria Scouros, a Houston oncologist who is married to Lisa's brother, Edmond, told People. "Both of them are very focused on doing what they have to do, following through with his medical team's recommendations so he can have a good outcome."
Swazye's brother helps out by whipping up dinner.
"I'm buying him gourmet chicken pot pies and we're putting them in the blender," Don says. "He kept his weight up, and now he's back on solid foods."
In the latest issue of Us Weekly, Swayze's sister-in-law Maria Haapaniemi says she's "never seen [Patrick] scared of anything!"
"He deals with everything the same way: He's determined, enthusiastic, full of energy and hope," she says. "We appreciate the love that's coming back to Patrick from all his fans," she added.
Swayze's longtime acting coach Milton Katselas told Us Weekly that the actor is "what we would like America to be."
"He is that wholesome, that alive — healthy, vigorous, honest," he said. "If anybody can beat the odds, it's Patrick," says Katselas. "He's going to end up inspiring us all."
Caught in its advanced stages, pancreatic cancer, which strikes about 30,000 people a year, has a less than 5 percent survival rate for five years. If caught early and treated aggressively with surgery and chemotherapy — and if the cancer has not spread to lymph nodes — the five-year survival rate can go as high as 17 to 25 percent, said Avram Cooperman, surgical director for the Pancreas and Biliary Center at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan.