Celebrity Circle

Chief Ambassador of Hope, Lisa Niemi Swayze

Lisa Niemi Swayze

Lisa Niemi joined the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network as its first celebrity spokesperson in honor of her late husband, Patrick Swayze, who died from pancreatic cancer in 2009 after a nearly two-year battle with the disease.

Lisa helped to launch the organization’s “Be a Hero in the Fight Against Pancreatic Cancer: Know it. Fight it. End it.” awareness campaign on September 14, 2010, the one-year anniversary of Patrick’s passing. The campaign, which helped to generate interest about National Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month in November, consisted of a series of videos and messaging from Lisa, among others.

“My husband Patrick not only touched the lives of millions with his work, but also with the strength and courage he displayed during his fight against pancreatic cancer; he was a hero around the world. While it is bittersweet to mark this day, it is imperative that people understand the severity of this disease and the urgent need for increased research funding,” Lisa said when announcing the campaign. “We must engage an army of heroes in the fight against pancreatic cancer so that we can know it, fight it and end it.”

Her statements honoring Patrick were echoed in various media interviews highlighting awareness month and the disease, including on Good Morning America, Access Hollywood, Extra, The Early Show, and CBS Channel 2 in Los Angeles.

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network honored Lisa with its prestigious Spirit of Hope Award at the 13th Annual An Evening with the Stars Gala held in Century City on October 30, 2010. The award was given for the courage, love and inspiration she gave to her husband during his heroic fight against pancreatic cancer. Actress and long-time friend Kay Lenz presented the award to her.

In February 2011, Lisa participated in a press conference on Capitol Hill with U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Representative Leonard Lance (R-NJ) to announce the re-introduction of the Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act, groundbreaking legislation that will make research into pancreatic cancer a national priority. Her advocacy efforts received media attention on CNN, the Associated Press, Yahoo! News, McClatchy Newspapers and various Los Angeles television stations.

In a keynote speech delivered to hundreds of Pancreatic Cancer Action Network volunteer leaders who gathered in Dallas, Texas in March of 2011, Lisa summarized her thoughts about the fight to defeat the disease: “So many people need the hope you are providing for them. For too long, pancreatic cancer hasn’t gotten the attention it needs. It’s time to move it to the front of the line. You and I know that it’s going to take a lot more than the 43,000 people diagnosed to change it. We all need to help. I know, with all of us in this room, we will beat this terrible disease.”

We are so grateful to Lisa for giving her voice to our organization and this very difficult disease. The awareness she is generating on behalf of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is having a tremendous impact on educating people about pancreatic cancer, motivating people to advocate and take action as well as inspiring so many to volunteer and be a part of the movement to know, fight, and end pancreatic cancer.