Lessons From A Fighter: Patrick Swayze

A wonderful friend, Sharon, asked me to post a blog about Patrick Swayze.  That was a year ago.  I have tried many times to write this; but, honestly, it became too difficult.  I think writers tend to internalized what they are writing about, or at least, this writer does. So, here I am again, desperately trying to complete a lovely request for a dear friend.

That day, in 2009, truly shocked me. Patrick Swayze had passed away at the age of 57 from pancreatic cancer.  This cancer is one of the most dreaded of cancers; since, the odds of survival are minuscule for both genders.  Early detection is extremely difficult because the symptoms often mimic other illnesses. Once diagnosed, it is usually too late for most people. Most patients usually succumb from a few months to a year.

When Swayze was told that he was in the advanced stages of this disease, his doctors gave him a timeline of a few months. Going home and waiting for the end to come is not the Swayze way. Instead, Swayze fought his cancerous battle for 20 months while at the same time he miraculously finished the first season of a popular television show, The Beast with Australian co-star  Travis Fimmel (Vikings, Ragnar).

For the millions of  fans, who have seen his movies,  felt he had a special something that was totally unique. The likeable Swayze is known for his dance moves in Dirty Dancing (1987) with Jennifer Grey; romantic lead in Ghost (1990) with Demi Moore; and as an action hero or villain like in Point Blank (1991) with Keanu Reeves; but, not many  knew, at the time of his death, that he was also a professionally trained ballet dancer who had an opportunity to dance with Russian born, Mikhail Baryshnikov.

In addition to acting and dancing, he own and worked a horse breeding ranch. He actually rode his horses in the equestrian championships. After high school, he toured with Disney on  Parade which is something that I always thought was endearing. He skated as Prince Charming for a year before an old injury made it impossible for him to continue.  He focused on dance; until, it became too physically painful for him to continue.  He finally switched his creative focus on an acting career.

Besides acting, riding horses, skating, dancing, and being athletic in various sports,  he could sing and write songs; in addition, he was a screen writer who rewrote many of his scripts; and he built furniture. What I learned about the multi-talented Swayze, I obtained mostly from his memoirs, The Time of My Life,  co-authored with the love of his life, his wife of over 34 years, Lisa Niemi.  This book was completed two months before he died.

One of the greatest loves, in anyone’s life,

is the person who taught you: How to love

Swayze dedicated his memoir to his father, Jesse (Big Buddy). At home, Patrick Swayze was known as, Little Buddy.  Swayze said his father taught him that “a man can be tough and gentle at the same time.”  One of the things that intrigued me about his father, Big Buddy, was that he too was an multi-talented individual.  He was a championship rodeo rider who would later become a chemical engineer.  His mother, Pasty, was a choreographer and owed a dancing School where she coached young talent, especially her second born child, Patrick.

Swayze was born in 1952 in a small town outside of Houston, Texas. Although bullying in recent times is considered unacceptable and in many places a crime, during Swayze’s young life, it was just how things were done…to make you stronger. You can only imagine how a football player taking ballet lessons would attract the unwanted attention of the worst kind of bullies. For years, Swayze took it “like a man”; until, one day he was attacked after school by five bullies.  They severely beat him.

At this point, Jesse had enough.  Taunting and throwing a punch is one thing; but now, they crossed the line. He could have called the police; but, men at this time, handled their own problems. He went to the school and met with the principal. He arranged for each of the five boys to be bought to the football locker rooms after school. They took one boy, at a time, and locked him in the room with Little Buddy.

Let’s just say, young Swayze made them feel his wrath with bare-knuckles. The biggest and also the ring leader of the bullies was saved for last.  So, after taking a beating and then fighting four more times, Little Buddy had to face the last fight with the biggest and best fighter of the nefarious group. This fact did not go unnoticed, by anyone. Yes, Little Buddy beat the “tar” out of each of those five boys. Needless to say, after the fight the bullies left Patrick alone.

Of course, a parent or principal would not get away with this type of problem solving today.  But, at that time in their perspective, this was an honorable way to handle things. The possibility of this happening today, with parental permission and approval of a school board, would be as believable as this Elf “Buddy” being “real.”

Afterwards, Swayze continued his dance lessons as he planned and practiced to be a future Olympian gymnast. Until a football injury and a staph infection nearly cost him his leg and becoming permanently disabled. As we know, Patrick fought the fates and his own body pain to prevent this life changing disability from completely derailing his dreams. His dreams may have taken a detour; but, he never stopped pursuing them.

Jesse was the kind of father that his son respected and wanted to be like. He taught him what is “really” important in life: to never give up and to strive toward his dreams. Ironically, both Swayze men would die at the same age, 57 years old. On the day Jesse died, he was walking his dogs on a nature trail when he had the heart attack that took his life.  Later, Patrick said it was the way his father would have preferred to leave this earth: to go quickly and to be outside, in beautiful surroundings, with his beloved dogs by his side.  Perhaps, all of these lessons made Swayze stronger when he faced the biggest fight of his life:

Fighting cancer has been the most challenging and eye-opening experience I’ve ever had….it sent me on an emotional journey, deeper than anything I have done before.

Life Lessons From A Fighter

Throughout his memoirs, Swayze tries to relay some of the lessons he learned. I have listed a few of them below:

  1. Facing your mortality is the quickest way possible to find out what you are made of…  It strips you to your soul
  2. The easiest way to destroy people is to give them exactly what they want.
  3. Once you get what you want, you say: Is that all there is?
  4. Dealing with fame is the purest way of dealing with your demons.
  5. The struggle is much more satisfying than the actually getting it.
  6. The act of striving is what keeps you alive, and keeps you grounded
  7. Tricky thing about success, the more of it you have, the more you fear it will disappear.
  8. Taking responsibility is not the same as taking on the guilt and blame.  Saying this is my fault is not taking responsibility.  This is passing judgement on yourself.  To take responsibility, you figure out what’s wrong, be aware, and take steps to change things for the better.
  9. For a strong and healthy marriage: Both must desire to save the marriage. That is the key.  Never give up on each other and never stop trying.
  10. The tools and techniques you use to overcome physical pain just plain don’t work on emotional pain.

Everyone has a unique story to tell. Hopefully, the story is a mixture of poignant life lessons that reflect elements of love, strife, humor, and wisdom. Patrick Swayze’s  life encompassed fascinating stories of love and courage. His story details his tenacious determination; and, his ability to imagine the impossible. It’s for this reason that Swayze’s story is inspiring and unforgettable.

Just a note:  If you know of someone who has been affected by cancer, please consider giving a donation to one of the many charities who are researching for cures. I have included a few links below:

Bloodwise/ My Peak Challenge (MPC):


World Child Cancer:



The American Cancer Society



Other References:



Video of Dirty Dancing


A link about Pancreatic Cancer


10 thoughts on “Lessons From A Fighter: Patrick Swayze

  1. To write this blog for Sharon is a lovely gift. This was a man who managed to live his life to the fullest. When he met roadblocks, he simply changed direction. He chose to live each day as if it was his last. He was so talented. I loved him in Dirty Dancing which I have seen so many times. It is such a shame he is not still with us.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What a beautiful heartfelt post. I’m glad you finally wrote it. I loved seeing Disney on Parade when I was a kid and had no idea he was in it. Now I’m wondering if he was there before me at least once! Sigh. Personally, I enjoyed the story of the locker room beatings… they sure worked for him, didn’t they?! Yes, different era. I remember seing his book in the library recently, now I want to read it. He’d overcome so much. I didn’t know. Again, I’m glad you wrote this. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Tonya xxx Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you actually saw him skate as Prince Charming! I choose to believe you did.🍀💞 He was one of a kind and his fans will always be grateful for the movie legacy he left us 🎬😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow my friend you sure know how to bring this girl to tears,this blog was well worth the wait, it is my TOTALLY,TOTALLY,TOTALLY,LOVE IT,my favorite blog so far and will be my favorite blog no matter how many amazing blog you write which are all amazing.This one is so special to me and tear at my every heartstung, love this man so. He had it all ,no 1 will ever have it all like him, and was amazing in all he did, and he and I also had 1 important thing in our lives we both were so fortunate to have an amazing Father who was always there for us .I know all his movies but 2 things didn,t know till recently was 1 his singing till you sent me that post of his now and now that he built furniture but neither surprises me as he could do it all. Thanks from the bottom of my friend my friend for this beautiful honoring of doing this for me and what a beautiful 70th year birthday present my best gift by far. ❤ xoxoxoxo ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I so happy that this post pleased you. I knew that his close relationship with his father would not be loss on you. You both are very fortunate to have such wonderful men as Fathers in your life to guide and love you. I never realized how much you two had in common until I started working on this post. I am sorry it took so long but I am happy I could finally post it, on your birthday 😊 xxx


  5. Like Sharon I am a huge Patrick Swayze fan. I thought I knew everything about him but never knew he was a skater. I am an avid figure skating fan so this made him even more appealing to me. I also didn’t know he was bullied but I guess that comes with a guy dancing and skating in that time. Really enjoyed this blog Katerina.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you Joanne💖 To be honest, I didn’t know either until I started doing some research for this blog. I should have known you were a Swayze fan too. I never met one I didn’t like 😊


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