One of the best dances she's ever shared with Patrick Swayze was after he came back from chemotherapy and a 15-hour work day. "There was this beautiful music playing, and Patrick took me in his arms and we just started dancing," she said.
"You can bet that I'm going through hell," Patrick Swayze said about his battle against cancer.
Through his 20-month-long fight against a disease that has one of the lowest survival rates of all cancers, the actor leaned on one person who held their world together — his wife of 34 years, Lisa Niemi. "I have no greater respect for any other human being on this earth like I have for her."
"There's a lot of fear here. 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," he went on to add in an interview with Barbara Walters, as reported by ABC News.
When the actor was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Lisa Niemi was just as overwhelmed with emotions, but stayed strong beside him. "For the first few weeks, it was like being in a nightmare you couldn't wake up from," she said.
Patrick Swayze refused to live in the shadow of cancer and went on to shoot the TV series, The Beast. He worked through the grueling 12-hour shifts and underwent intensive chemotherapy during the weekends. Through it all, it was Lisa Niemi who pushed him on while he was on set and soothed him through the excruciating pain after shooting.
He knew that if it wasn't for her love, he wouldn't have been able to do any of the things that he did even with cancer. He said, "Part of me says I couldn't have made it through without her, but, of course, the other part of me says I could have, but not nearly as elegantly as I have."
In their final months together, the two of them saw a side of each other that they hadn't seen before. Not only did they go flying together, but the couple also renewed their vows and reiterated their devotion for each other. “When he got ill he became an even better person than he already was – kinder, more loving, and really became the man he knew he wanted to be,” said Lisa Niemi, according to Friday. “There was a humbleness that came out of him, which was stunning."
Swayze and his wife also had some of their best memories during the months he struggled with cancer. One day, "Patrick had just finished another round of chemo and a 15-hour workday. There was this beautiful music playing, and Patrick took me in his arms and we just started dancing," Lisa Niemi said. "It was a simple, delicious moment of being in each other's arms and feeling how wonderful it was to be alive. It was one of the best dances I've ever had in my life with Patrick."
She would try her best not to cry in front of him, but sometimes he did catch her. "I'm sure there was a part of Patrick that worried he was letting me down by leaving and that he wasn't going to be around to protect me. Patrick was fighting for his life and working so hard at it, and I just wanted the love I could give him to be perfect," Lisa Niemi said, according to Redbook.
As tough as the experience was, they took it one day at a time, holding on to each other for as long as they could. "Every day that he was alive and I was alive was a victory, and it didn't matter what was going to happen in the future or what happened in the past," Lisa Niemi told WebMD.
In September 2009, Patrick Swayze passed away with his wife at his bedside. "Patrick and I were together for a very long time,” Lisa Niemi told Access Hollywood. "It’s hard not to feel like there’s a huge hole inside of you because, you know, we were very attached."
Even though she was his pillar of strength, she still has one regret that she may carry for long. “My regret is that I didn’t tell him that I loved him enough over that entire 34 years,” she said, according to womanmagazine.co.uk.
"We told each other we loved each other over and over again,” she said in an interview with The Times. “I never left the room without telling him. It still didn’t feel like enough."