Lifechangers: Lisa Niemi Swayze for Pancreatic Cancer Awareness
November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month -- it was last year that Patrick Swayze lost his 20-month battle against the disease. Now, his widow, Lisa Niemi Swayze, is turning "Extra" Lifechanger, devoting her time to raising awareness of the disease.
Pancreatic cancer is the only one of the top 10 cancers with a five-year survival rate at about 6% -- a survival rate that hasn't changed in nearly 40 years.
Pancreatic specialist Dr. Gagandeep Singh told "Extra," "Pancreatic cancer is a silent killer. By the time it's actually diagnosed, unfortunately, it's already spread. Patients can be asymptomatic and then, boom! We realize it's spread all over the abdominal cavity."
"Patrick had several weeks of indigestion, but he's a tough guy," Niemi explained. "But once his eyes turned yellow, that was it. We were going to the doctor."
How do you know if it's more than just a stomach ache? "It's not like a pain like appendicitis, which is acute pain," Dr. Singh said. "It's a gnawing pain in the mid-gut section or the mid-abdomen section which is radiating to the back. You're just not able to shake it away. The second thing that goes with that is if there's an unexplained loss of weight."
Aside from wearing purple, the official color for pancreatic cancer, find out what YOU can do to fight this disease and end it. Visit Pancan.org for more information.
And if you want to send a donation to the Patrick Swayze Memorial Fund at Stanford University, please visit the official website.