Patrick Swayze's Death: One Year Later

Lisa Niemi honors the memory of her husband and launches a campaign to help people suffering from pancreatic cancer

It's hard to believe it's been one year since the tragic passing of beloved actor Patrick Swayze. On the anniversary of his death, his wife Lisa Niemi is speaking out and celebrating his memory.

Swayze died at the age of 57 on Sept. 14, 2009, after battling pancreatic cancer. A year later, his wife of 34 years has launched an awareness campaign in his honor with the slogan: "Be a Hero in the Fight Against Pancreatic Cancer: Know it. Fight it. End it."

On Sept. 10 Niemi, who's a new spokeswoman for Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, appeared on the "Stand Up 2 Cancer" telethon where she paid tribute to Swayze's brave and moving appearance on the 2008 telecast. "In some ways I look at the anniversary and I think, 'It's either going to knock me down or it's going to make me stronger," Niemi, 54, told People. "And I know I'm stronger now. The fact that I've had some good days definitely gives me hope that I can have more."

Pancreatic cancer (which Niemi calls "a merciless disease") took her husband from her, but she hopes his too-short life may save others. "If Patrick being sick can help somebody else, it's the highest possible honor I could help him have," Niemi said. 

Niemi, who still lives on the California ranch she shared with Swayze, said that while he might be gone, his spirit still lives with her. "Sometimes there won't be any wind, so I like to think (it's Patrick)," she says. "I do sense his presence, and I like that. Just because he's gone now doesn't mean that love doesn't go on."

Have you ever lost a loved one to cancer? Chime in below.

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