Patrick Swayze: Actors on 'tension' with Jennifer Grey
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Among the Dirty Dancing star’s symptoms include severe abdominal pain. In an interview with ABC in January 2009, he said: “I tried to have champagne, and it would be like pouring acid, you know, on an open wound.” The interview came a year after he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, meaning it had spread to other parts of his body.
The pancreas is a gland located behind the stomach, which produces many digestive enzymes.
The condition can wreak havoc on the body, causing digestive problems, severe pain and jaundice, explains Mayo Clinic.
When the reporter asked if the actor was scared, he replied: “I don’t know. I will be so either truthful or stupid as to say no. But then I immediately, when I say that, I have to say yes, I am.
“You can bet that I’m going through hell,” Swayze said. “And I’ve only seen the beginning of it.”
During his cancer battle, the star’s treatment included chemotherapy as well as an experimental medication known as vatalanib – a drug which to this day is still undergoing clinical trials in the US according to verywellhealth.
“There’s a lot of fear here,” Swayze added in the 2009 interview.
“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.”
Doctors at the time of his diagnosis found a tumor in the midsection of his body as well as a tiny mass on his liver.
According to the NHS, pancreatic cancer, as well as causing jaundice – yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes – can also cause a high temperature and tiredness.
Other symptoms include feeling bloated, diarrhoea, and feeling sick.
Additional details about Swayze’s diagnosis, including the symptoms he was experiencing, were revealed by his wife Niemi Swayze in November 2020 as part of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.
“Patrick, he hadn’t been feeling really well,” she reflected.
“He’d been having some persistent stomach pain which, you know, we didn’t pay much attention to because he always had kind of a funky stomach.
“And then one day he walked over to me and he says ‘hey, do my eyes look yellow?’ I looked at him [and] I’m like ‘yeah, they do.’”
Swayze was reluctant to visit the doctor when his wife told him to go and called instead.
“He went straight to a CT,” Mrs Swayze said. “It was a grueling 24 hours before we got the results back that it was pancreatic cancer.”
In most cases, pancreatic cancer affects exocrine cells in the gland. In other words, cells create digestive substances.
In other cases, the hormones can wreak havoc on the cells producing hormones.
The NHS recommends seeing your GP if you have “lost a noticeable amount of weight over the last six to 12 months without trying”, experience “other symptoms of pancreatic cancer that get worse or do not get better after two weeks”, or if you have “a condition that causes symptoms with your digestion that are not getting better after two weeks of using your usual treatments.”
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