When Patrick Swayze announced that he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in early 2008 my heart sank. You see my father died of the same horrendous disease. I knew the path that lied ahead for him and his beautiful wife. I thought about how difficult a road that they were about to face, but listening to Patrick, like listening to my dad, I just knew HE would be the one who would beat this disease. My dad made it about 7 1/2 months. Patrick made it about 20 months, in a way, a lifetime. Considering the death nail that a diagnosis of this particular cancer is. I cried for Patrick when I watched his interview with Barbara Walters, knowing that as hard as he was trying, as strong as he was, he was not going to sit down with her for another interview. You could see it in his eyes, the fear of ones life reaching its end. I hate cancer. I can't fathom anyone who would like it, other than the pharmaceutical companies which is another story all together. I have watched friends succumb, parents loose beloved children, couples devastated, and loved ones loose their battle of cancer. It affects us all eventually, if you have not been hit by the dreaded BIG C, count your blessings.
So, back to Mr. Swayze and his work. I loved him in a lot of movies, but probably not the ones most people expect. I know this is Un-American to admit, but I never quite 'got' the Dirty Dancing thing that most girls growing up in the 1980's did. I was also not that keen on Ghost, not sure why, perhaps all the crying. Anyway, I did love Patrick in quite a few films. My favorite has to be The Outsiders . The Outsiders was an important film to me in that it was adapted from one of my favorite books from my early teens. S.E. Hinton's books, Tex, Rumble Fish, and That was Then this is Now were my Harry Potter books in Junior High. Patrick's older protective brother Darell was part of the heart of The Outsiders. Another favorite movie from early in his career was Red Dawn. Red Dawn was one of those 1980's movies that today almost seems campy. I love that Harry Dean Statton is the wise dad, and where old cowboy star Ben Johnson takes a stand. But I think that my all time favorite Patrick Swayze film is really a tie. I love City of Joy, it is one of those movies where his character is grand, but different than all of the other tough guy roles that made him famous. The other movie in my tie is To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar. I am not sure why this movie was not more popular, was it because Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the desert came out the same year and viewers had their fill of drag queens? I am not sure, but Patrick's portrayal of Vida had so much soul and respect, you could sense his need to give her dignity. And as Patrick Swayzes life came to a close, he continued to work and to love. All the while determined to find a cure for what eventually brought him to the end. Although I did not know Patrick, or any members of his family, we are all now part of a group who understand each other, those touched by cancer.
Harry Blackstone Jr., Juliet Prowse, Michael Landon,Henry Mancini, Richard Crenna, Fred Gwynne, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespe, and Frank Zappa are just a few of the celebrities who have battled pancreatic cancer.