Ever lost someone and had no idea how you’d ever be able to move on? This is exactly how Lisa Niemi felt when her husband, Patrick Swayze, lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. Despite facing the prospect of losing her husband for months prior, nothing could prepare Niemi for the way she would feel when the tragic moment finally came. Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi were, in many ways, one of the Hollywood couples that actually worked. Despite his fame, Swayze never lost sight of what was most important – his wife. Niemi may have lost her husband, but has she managed to move on from this tragedy? It seems that she has finally bared all.
Impossible To Move On?
It has been nearly a decade since Patrick Swayze lost his battle to pancreatic cancer. However, he ended up leaving behind the ever-present shining light of his life, Lisa Niemi.
Having been his wife for 34 years, it proved to be extremely difficult for Niemi to move on from her tremendous heartache. However, was she able to find a light at the end of the tunnel? Now she is able to open up about the last decade.
It All Began At Ballet School
It’s only fitting that Lisa Niemi’s story with Dirty Dancing star Patrick Swayze should begin at a dancing school. Having grown up in Houston, Texas to Finnish parents Edmond and Karin Haapaniemi, Lisa was a keen ballet dancer from day one.
From a young age, she knew that she wanted to pursue a career in ballet and other performance arts. Soon enough, Niemi’s time spent at ballet school would lead her to her beloved Patrick…
She Met Him Through His Mom
It turns out that Patrick Swayze’s mother, Patsy, was actually Lisa Niemi’s ballet teacher. Despite being friends early on, it took a while before they truly hit it off.
“I knew she was the smartest chick I’d ever met in my life. [Before Lisa], I had been meeting girls with names like Mimi and Angel,” Swayze said in an interview with People magazine. “And for a long time, I didn’t feel like I deserved her.”
She Played Hard To Get
Although they knew each other from an early age, Swayze admitted that he found it difficult trying to speak to Niemi. Despite having a way with women from an early age, Swayze’s tricks didn’t work on Niemi.
“If I started putting on a pose or doing my Casanova routine, Lisa would turn away and not say anything,” he said. “We had a lot of dates in silence.” However, after opening up to each other, Swayze finally won Niemi’s heart…
Til’ Death Do Us Part
Swayze admitted that it took some serious conversations to get on the same page with Niemi. “As soon as I opened up about what I wanted from life, she would answer me,” he said.
Soon enough, the couple knew that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together and on June 12, 1975, the young couple tied the knot. In fitting fashion, the wedding reception took place at the Swayze family’s dance studio.
Obviously, the main thing that Niemi and her husband had in common was their passion for performing. While Niemi still maintained her desire to become a professional dancer, Swayze was slowly making a name for himself in the world of acting.
In fact, it was Dirty Dancing that earned Swayze his big break. The low-budget flick ended up making a staggering $214 million at the box office. Despite the movie putting him on the map, Swayze knew who to thank for a large part of his success…
Thank You Lisa
In many ways, it was wife Lisa who had a large part to play in Patrick Swayze’s early success. He has gone on the record, explaining how much of an impact his wife had on his early years in entertainment.
“I just felt at the time that I’m very, very lucky to have a woman who thinks I hung the moon,” he said. Moreover, Niemi was the main inspiration behind the song that Swayze co-wrote for the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, “She’s Like the Wind.”
Kirstie Alley Fantasized About Patrick
There is no doubt that co-stars can experience tension while working together. However, it would take a while before Kirstie Alley revealed fantasies she had about Patrick Swayze while working with him on the show North and South.
During her time on Celebrity Big Brother, Alley revealed that she considered having an affair with Swayze. “When you get on the road and you’re doing a movie, it’s very easy to fall in love with your leading man,” she said.
Sure enough, more success came Swayze’s way, with unforgettable roles in movies such as Point Break, Road House, and Ghost. While this high level of fame and fortune may have ruined other relationships, it seemed to have little impact on Swayze’s marriage.
Kelly Lynch, who Swayze starred alongside in Road House, said the following: “They’re like a single organism…They love each other, and it’s apparent. The partnership is for life.” However, this isn’t to say that everything was perfect between the two…
Let’s face it, no relationship is perfect, and every couple faces obstacles along the way. In that respect, Swayze and Niemi were no different. One of the biggest challenges that the married couple faced was around the time that Ghost was released.
It was during this time that Niemi suffered a miscarriage. That’s not all though. Swayze also lost both his father and sister around the same time. Also, the grief he suffered ended up opening a can of worms…
Swayze’s Deepest Regret
Patrick Swayze has been quoted in the past as saying the following: “I was born to be a dad.” However, some things just aren’t meant to be, and when everything was said and done, Swayze and Niemi never ended up having kids.
Bodyguard Frank Whiteley spoke about the actor’s deepest regret. “It broke his heart,” he said. “He wanted to be a dad more than anything. He had skills, knowledge, kindness and love – everything a child would want.”
Some people experience more tragedy than others. However, it seems that Patrick Swayze was cursed with much misfortune during the latter stages of his life.
Around the same time that Lisa Niemi suffered a miscarriage, Swayze experienced more tremendous loss, losing both his father and sister. In 1982, his dad died of a heart attack. Then, 12 years later, his sister passed away from complications related to prescription medicine. Also, the grief he suffered ended up opening a can of worms…
Drinking Away The Pain
It turns out that Patrick Swayze struggled to cope with the loss of both his father and sister. As a result, the actor turned to heavy drinking, which for a while, sidelined him from the limelight.
Swayze had no choice but to get his life back on track and eventually got himself into rehab. He spent a lot of his time at his California and New Mexico homes with wife Lisa. It was clear that Swayze and Niemi were lost without each other.
Fighting For The Right Reasons?
According to a number of sources, this troubling chapter in Swayze’s life was only exacerbated by fights that he would have with wife Lisa.
However, an unidentified source told RadarOnline that the actor may have been a victim of abuse, to which Lisa has vehemently denied. “She (Niemi) would beat on him and he would beat on the walls and furniture. They fought and I covered up a lot of that — they destroyed hotel rooms, cars, their house … It was abusive,” the source claimed.
Faithful To Each Other?
It wasn’t just the reported fights that may have suggested that all wasn’t well in the Swayze-Niemi household. According to Charlotte Stevens, one of Swayze’s childhood friends, she had told the actor to leave Niemi because she had supposedly cheated on him.
“I would tell him, ‘You mean to tell me she’s having these affairs and you haven’t stepped out on her?’ And he would say, ‘No I don’t want it used against me.'” However, Niemi reportedly didn’t even know who Stevens was.
Their Secret To Success
Through thick and thin, Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi managed to maintain a healthy, exciting marriage. In 2007, the actor revealed the “secret” behind their successful marriage and why they were virtually unbreakable.
“We’re big believers in, arguments are okay…but it’s about a mutual goal – trying to create something special,” he said. As time went on, people started to take notice of their incredible marriage and other avenues began to open that added new and exciting layers to it…
One person who thoroughly admired Swayze and Niemi’s undying bond was Barbara Walters. In 2008, the TV host filmed a summer special called Patrick Swayze: The Truth. The host referred to their marriage as “extraordinary.”
“The way he looked at her, the way he held on to her, the way she smiled, I can’t really imagine one without the other,” she said. In fact, Swayze and Niemi also collaborated on a professional level, with the latter directing the 2003 movie One Last Dance.
Something Wasn’t Right
Around New Year’s Eve 2007, Patrick Swayze started to suffer from painful symptoms. When he opened a bottle of bubbly that evening, Swayze compared it to “pouring acid, you know, on an open wound.”
Also, Swayze started to lose a considerable amount of weight. “When you see it in the mirror, when all of a sudden, you pull your eyes down and the bottom of your eyes go yellow and jaundice sets in – then you know something’s wrong,” Swayze added.
The doctors soon revealed that the cause of Swayze’s decline in health was stage four pancreatic cancer. Sadly, Swayze learned that his chances of survival were slim.
In an interview with ABC News, Lisa Niemi described her initial reaction to hearing Swayze’s diagnosis as “a nightmare you couldn’t wake up from.” What made matters even worse was that Swayze couldn’t have his tumor removed as his cancer had spread so much. Despite his slim chances, Swayze remained positive and underwent chemotherapy.
Despite his poor chances of survival, Swayze remained hopeful. “I keep dreaming of a future, a future with a long and healthy life, a life not lived in the shadow of cancer but in the light,” he said.
However, the actor certainly wasn’t naive to the situation he was going through. “You can bet that I’m going through hell,” he said. “And I’ve only seen the beginning of it.” Sure enough, Swayze battled long and hard until the very end…
His battle with pancreatic cancer was an inspiration to millions of people, having lived for nearly two years after his diagnosis. However, at 57 years of age, Patrick Swayze succumbed to his illness and passed away on September 14, 2009.
Many fans of the Dirty Dancing star flocked to his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and laid flowers and cards in his honor. However, there was no doubt that the person who was hit the hardest by his passing was his wife, Lisa Niemi.
She Lost The Love Of Her Life
It would take time for Lisa Niemi to heal. However, she never foresaw how difficult it would be. “I thought during the 22 months of my husband’s illness that it gave me time to get used to the idea of losing him,” she said.
“And I found for myself when I actually got to that point I said, no, no, no. That wasn’t the same at all, the actual loss is – it’s like an animal all on its own.”
Lisa also had a few regrets of her own and wishes she could’ve told Swayze she loved him more often.
“I would be with Patrick a million times over if I could — warts and all…My regret is that I didn’t tell him that I loved him enough over that entire 34 years,” she said. “We told each other we loved each other over and over again. I never left the room without telling him. It still didn’t feel like enough.”
One Year Later
A year had passed since Niemi had lost her husband. While some people in her situation would have reacted differently, Niemi admitted that she felt a lot stronger now that time had passed.
“The fact that I’ve had some good days definitely gives me hope that I can have more,” she said in an interview with People Magazine. Not only was she finding the strength to move on, but something happened that took Lisa’s life in a whole new direction…
In Memory Of Patrick
Shortly after Swayze’s passing, Lisa Niemi became the Chief Ambassador of Hope for PanCAN, also known as the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. According to the organization’s website, it “is dedicated to fighting the world’s toughest cancer.
In our urgent mission to save lives, we attack pancreatic cancer on all fronts: research, clinical initiatives, patient services and advocacy.” It turns out that Niemi did something in honor of Swayze and the charity that many people have differing opinions about…
Letting Things Go
Lisa Niemi ended up selling a number of items of memorabilia from Swayze’s illustrious career. These included the leather jacket the actor wore in the classic film Dirty Dancing.
Amazingly, it sold for a staggering $62,270. However, Niemi admitted that it was difficult to let go of these things. “No matter what, it’s still a letting go. There’s always a little bit of loss associated with that,” she said. “While it’s a very positive thing to do, it’s a difficult thing to do.”
Despite Niemi’s determination to let go of these items of memorabilia in an effort to raise money for charity, her in-laws did not see it this way.
Danielle Swayze, who is the niece of the actor, hated the idea of putting these things up for auction. “These were family heirlooms,” she said. “It’s a slap in the face that she’s selling these precious memories.” Regardless of Danielle’s thoughts, the items of memorabilia are now in other people’s hands.
In October 2012, a couple of years after losing Swayze, Niemi started a new chapter in her life, dating a jeweler by the name of Albert DePrisco. A mutual friend had introduced them to one another and soon enough, they developed a serious relationship.
In fact, Niemi admitted that she didn’t really struggle to date somebody else after losing Swayze. “I have to say, that the love I have for Patrick was never in conflict or competition with my feelings for Albert,” she said.
Will You Marry Me?
Although Lisa Niemi was confident in moving on with Albert DePrisco, a huge curveball came her way when the jeweler got down on one knee and asked for her hand in marriage.
“I found myself grappling with my feelings of having been married to Patrick for 34 years!” she explained. “Privately, I flipped, I flopped. Yes, get married, no, don’t get married.” One thing was for sure; Lisa Niemi still had a lot of thinking to do.
Growing In Confidence
Despite the uncertainty, the couple managed to come to an understanding. “Albert knew I still loved Patrick and would always love him and told me, ‘And I know you love me, and I love you.’ How could I not marry this man?'” she said.
“As I had time to process the change my life was going to take, my doubts became less and less, and I became [surer.]” However, something extraordinary happened that made up Niemi’s mind, once and for all…
Her Dream Came True
Ultimately, despite her inner conflict, Niemi said yes to DePrisco’s proposal. However, just a few weeks before the wedding, Niemi’s insecurities were completely dispelled when Patrick Swayze appeared in her dream.
“It was like he was giving me his blessing and letting me know it was okay,” she said. “Again, it can be hard sometimes to take those steps forward, but it doesn’t change the way we feel about someone. He was letting me know that.”
She Got Her Happy Ending
Nearly a decade after Swayze’s tragic passing, Niemi was ready to walk down the aisle again and move on with her life. When she said the words “I do,” she knew that Swayze was looking down on her, pleased with her decision.
“I could say that it’s Albert’s heart, his generosity, his personal strength and his sense of fun, as some of the reasons why I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him, and they would be true,” she said.