Skip to content

Pancreatic Cancer Health Center

Lisa Niemi: Healing From the Loss of Patrick Swayze

The dancer, writer, and horse woman channels her grief into advocating for pancreatic cancer research.
Font Size
A
A
A

You and Patrick were married for more than three decades. Do you have any advice for a healthy marriage?

I've had friends who appear to be very unhappy in their relationship. But generally, the problem isn't the other person. It's a problem in yourself, and you need to address your own unhappiness or frustration or impatience. A lot of people focus on the 25% that's wrong in their relationship instead of celebrating the 75% that's right.

Who influenced you the most when it comes to your health?

My mom was a nurse. She's 85 now and retired, but she's one of those people who will say, "You need to go check that out." Of course, she's qualified and she's got a lot of common sense.

You used to smoke. How did you quit?

My lung capacity was severely diminished and it scared me enough to quit. I quit the hard way: I just put the cigarettes down. I visualized nicotine as a big monster. Within a year my lung capacity improved by 60%.

What are your best and worst health habits?

My best health habit is that I've been doing yoga three times a week. I'm buffed in my upper body like I probably never have been. My worst is that I sometimes grab whatever food is nearby. It's like, "Wait a second, there's a bag of Doritos in there."

Did yoga help you after Patrick passed away?

I started back into it only a few months after losing Patrick, and it could be hard. You usually do a little meditation at the beginning and at the end of the class. I was glad that everyone's eyes were closed because I'd have tears running down my face. At one point I said, "I'm going to give this class one more try, and if I cry, I'm going to take a break until I'm OK." Then, I didn't cry during class. So I thought, "OK, this is a sign to keep coming."

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

My whole life is in flux right now. I'm staying very open about where life might want to take me. There are a lot of things I really enjoy doing, and I'm going to see if that continues to be the case -- it may shift. In 10 years I hope that whatever path I end up on is one that gives me bliss.

Today on WebMD

human pancreas
Do you know what they are?
man with a doctor
Our health check will steer you in the right direction.
 
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
 
Integrative Medicine Cancer Quiz
QUIZ
Patrick Swayzes Widow Healing From Loss
FEATURE
 
Pets Improve Your Health
SLIDESHOW
Resolved To Quit Smoking
SLIDESHOW
 

WebMD Special Sections