Patrick Swayze's Widow Talks About Pancreatic Cancer (VIDEO)

By Corinne Rose - 21Alive

October 25, 2013 Updated Oct 25, 2013 at 6:30 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) -- the widow of a high-profile cancer patient visited Fort Wayne Friday to give a keynote speech.

Lisa Niemi Swayze is the widow of actor and dancer Patrick Swayze, who starred in movies like “Ghost” and “Dirty Dancing.”

She spoke at the 38th annual banquet for Aging and In-Home Services.

The Swayzes were married for 34 years before he died in 2009.

He fought pancreatic cancer for 20 months, far longer than most patients -- most of whom survive three to six.

In fact, of the 45,000 people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year, 38,000 of them will die this year.

“At some point, someone, there will be a huge breakthrough, and it won't just benefit pancreatic cancer patients. When we find cures and meaningful treatments, it'll spread to all other cancers. But pancreatic cancer is particularly tough,” Swayze says.

“When we talk about pancreatic cancer, most commonly we're talking about exocrine cancer of the pancreas that comes from the duct cells that secrete the pancreatic juices. This is the kind of pancreatic cancer that Patrick Swayze, for instance, had. Different than, say, the kind of cancer that Steve Jobs had. So as you can imagine, with different kinds of pancreatic cancers there are different chemotherapies,” says interventional endoscopist Dr. Neil Sharma.

Lisa Niemi Swayze is the national spokesperson for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

You can find that organization at www.pancan.org.

Other notables who've passed away after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer include Apple computer founder Steve Jobs, actor Michael Landon and opera star Luciano Pavarotti.

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