Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Cancer Did NOT Win

Family, friends and fans of Patrick Swayze are mourning his passing today, myself among them. There have been moving accounts written and hopefully his wife Lisa is coping well with the support of loved ones; certainly her support for Patrick was important and uplifting. But among the things written and said, is something with which I cannot agree – the claim that Patrick ‘lost his battle with Cancer’. Patrick won, not the Cancer, and here’s why.

Cancer is a terrible thing to have to fight, even if you are lucky like me and it gets caught early. If the words “Stage Four” are attached to the diagnosis, it’s going to be painful and in most cases fatal. That does not mean, however, that you have to give up hope or stop living. That’s what Patrick understood, and he explained that if you focus only on fighting to stay alive, you might forget to really live. Patrick Swayze was true to his beliefs; he worked, rode his horses and maintained his farm right up to the end. It was painful for him, at times horribly so, and it cost Patrick in ways that no healthy person can understand, just to get through his days. But Patrick was determined to live his life on his terms, to not give in on anything that was important to him, and to fight his cencer with every ounce of strength he possessed.

Yes, Patrick Swayze died from his cancer, but so? We all must die, sooner or later, and if not from one thing then from another. No one gets out alive, as the saying goes, so the people who think that dying is losing have lost sight of why we live in the first place.

Patrick Swayze was brilliantly successful in pretty much everything he tried. He was a popular and accomplished dancer, actor, horse breeder and pilot (Patrick held an instrument rating for his twin-engine Cessna). But what impresses many people the most is the quality of the man himself. Patrick married Lisa Niemi in 1975, and their marriage lasted all his life. Patrick was raised as a Roman Catholic, but also studied Tai Chi and several schools of Buddhism. More to the point, Patrick established a well-deserved reputation as a thoroughly honest and hard-working man, a fighter for what he believed in, be it his work, his family, or his values. To the end, Patrick showed the world a man worth respect, admiration, and purpose.

Cancer took his life, but even so, Patrick Swayze won his battles.