I was trying to find a way to accept what was going on, but then a funny thing happened. I just couldn't. I wasn't ready to go, and I was damned if this disease was going to take me before I was good and ready. So I said to my doctor, "Show me where the enemy is, and I will fight him." I wanted to understand exactly what I was up against so I could go after this cancer rather than waiting for it to beat me. And in the year and a half since my diagnosis, that's exactly what I've done, with every ounce of energy I have.
Fighting cancer has been the most challenging and eye-opening experience I've ever had, and it has sent me on an emotional journey deeper than anything I've felt before. Facing your own mortality is the quickest way possible to find out what you're made of. It strips away all the bullshit and exposes every part of you -- your strengths and weaknesses, your sense of self. Your soul.
It also leads you to confront life's hardest questions: Is there a heaven? Will I make it in? Has this life counted for something other than just my own narcissism? Have I lived a good life? Am I a good person? It's easy to dismiss these difficult questions when you have your whole life ahead of you. But when you're faced with your own mortality, they suddenly take on a whole new meaning.
There's a scene at the end of Saving Private Ryan that really resonated with me when I first saw it, and it does now more than ever. As an old man, Private Ryan muses aloud about whether he's lived a good life. "I tried to live my life the best I could," he says. "I hope that was enough." It's so hard to judge your own life, to know whether you've made a mark in this world. Doing this book was, in part, a quest to find that out for myself.
I've never been one to spend a lot of time dwelling in the past, so spending time with Lisa looking back at our lives has been really illuminating. Especially in light of what our future now holds, it has also been cathartic. I never felt like I had all the answers, and I certainly don't claim to now. Yet the one thing I realized as Lisa and I retraced the arc of our lives is that no matter what happened, we never, ever gave up -- on each other, or on our dreams. I'm far from perfect, and I've made a lot of mistakes in my life. But that's one thing we both got right, and it's the one thing that's keeping me going today.
As I write this, sitting in our beautiful ranch home in New Mexico with the sun beaming down on the mountains, I realize yet again how much more I want to do in this life. Together with Lisa, I'll keep on pushing, keep on believing. Because that, in the end, is the greatest gift we have.
Patrick Swayze June 2009
As Patrick and I have been writing this book, I couldn't help but be amazed by all the stories of things we've done and been through. It was surprising to me how hard we've both worked our whole lives, how focused and single-minded we could be. It must be the dancer in us. Always striving to be more, do better, never settle. And that drive to be better has served us well, particularly with all that we're going through now.