On This Day: Patrick Swayze Passes Away in 2009

by Taylor Cunningham
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On this day 12 years ago, we lost one of Hollywood’s brightest stars, Patrick Swayze. He passed at the age of 57 after a two-and-a-half-year battle with cancer.

The Roadhouse actor was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March of 2008 after complaining of burning pains in his stomach. Initially, he believed that he would beat his diagnosis. Four months after beginning treatments at Stanford University Medical Center, he told fans about his condition and said he was doing well. 

“My treatments are working, and I am winning the battle,” he told Telegraph. “I am juicing every day along with other treatments, and all I can say is that it’s working fine and really well. I’m a miracle dude. I don’t know why.”

Swayze went on to become a spokesperson for Stand Up to Cancer, and he juggled that with his career until his health took a turn in early 2009. In January, he was hospitalized with pneumonia, which was a complication from his treatments. By April, the cancer had spread to his liver. A few months later, his wife, Lisa Niemi, took him home so he could pass comfortably with his family.

“My last words to Patrick? ‘I love you’ and those were his last words to me,” she wrote in her memoir, Worth Fighting For.

Niemi remembers cherishing their last days together. They laid wrapped in each other arms, and the morning he died, she knew it was time. She said goodbye as he took his last breaths.

Patrick Swayze’s Legacy

Patrick Swayze became an instant star when he lit up the screen as Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing. Though the classically trained dancer struggled to break away from typecasting after he played the smooth-talking bad boy. In fact, he turned down a $7 million offer to star in Dirty Dancing 2, so he could break away from the character. 

He then went on to star in Road House, which made a name for itself over the years. But upon its release, it was a flop. After that, he wanted to stay away from dancing heartthrob movies, so he took a chance and auditioned for the lead in Ghost. Swayze later told an interviewer that he hoped the movie would make the industry take him seriously. He didn’t want to be a “dance dude” anymore. And that is exactly what the film did for him.

However, he took a sharp turn and went for cult classic films. He said that playing in Ghost made him “fed up with that Hollywood blockbuster mentality.”

So he carved his nitch in classics like Point Break and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newar. He later said that those films gave him the career he dreamed of. And he wouldn’t have been happy always being “the leading man.”

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