Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Patrick Swayze Died of Cancer at 57

Patrick Swayze
Patrick Swayze personified a particular kind of masculine grace both on and off screen, from his roles in films like "Dirty Dancing" and "Ghost" to the way he carried himself in his long fight with pancreatic cancer. Swayze died from the illness on Monday in Los Angeles, his publicist said. He was 57.

"Patrick Swayze passed away peacefully today with family at his side after facing the challenges of his illness for the last 20 months," Annett Wolf said in a statement Monday evening. She declined to give details.

Fans of the actor were saddened to learn in March 2008 that Swayze was suffering from an especially deadly form of cancer. He continued working despite the diagnosis, putting together a memoir with his wife and shooting "The Beast," an A&E drama series for which he had already made the pilot.

Swayze said he chose not to use painkillers while making "The Beast" because they would have taken the edge off his performance. The show drew a respectable 1.3 million viewers when the 13 episodes ran this year, but A&E said it reluctantly decided not to renew it for a second season.

When he first went public with the illness, some reports gave him only weeks to live, but his doctor said his situation was "considerably more optimistic" than that. Swayze acknowledged that time might be running out given the grim nature of the disease.

"I'd say five years is pretty wishful thinking," Swayze told ABC's Barbara Walters in early 2009. "Two years seems likely if you're going to believe statistics. I want to last until they find a cure, which means I'd better get a fire under it."

And that's exactly what he did. In February, Swayze wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post titled, "I'm Battling Cancer. How About Some Help, Congress?" in which he urged senators and representatives to vote for the maximum funding for the National Institutes of Health to fight cancer as part of the economic stimulus package.

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