...and not just any star. Patrick Swayze.
When I first saw the headline that said "Patrick Swayze has cancer" I seriously thought that this was another really small story on a slow news day and it was going to tell me that he's got some melanoma that's already been treated.
Something simple. Something that's really a non-story because he's fine and going on his merry acting way. Johnny Castle lives on. Or James Dalton, depending on which Swayze non-conformist guy you prefer. For those not educated in the hotness that was Swayze in the 80s, Castle was his 'Dirty Dancing' character; Dalton was 'RoadHouse' (co-starring the equally fabulous Sam Elliot and his mustache).
Then I clicked and read in the first sentence that it was pancreatic cancer. And I stopped reading because my reaction was "Oh crap, he's going to die". Really, that was my reaction. Pancreatic cancer is nasty and most things that I've read show that by the time it's diagnosed, it's already spread and is almost too late to do anything. The survival rate is 5% of patients are still alive 5 years after diagnosis. Those are very small numbers we're working with here.
Now, he's got money and good doctors (Go Stanford Medical Go!) and the news is saying that he's got a 'very limited amount of disease', which I guess is a way of saying that it's not as bad as everyone's making it out to be. At least I hope that's what it means. And he's been treated for it for over a month now and is apparently "responding well" whatever that's supposed to mean.
Sarcasm aside (from the title and the mustache crack) - I wouldn't wish this one anyone. It's a nasty disease with a horrible mortality rate and he's only 55. I really hope that he turns into a miracle success story, beating the unbeatable disease.
There is an upside, no matter what the end result is. Pancreatic cancer is getting tons of attention now and probably will for awhile. People are paying attention to what it is and what it does and how tricky it can be. We're learning about the paltry survival rates, the surgery (very tricky, and 1-2% mortality when done by the top folks in the field, otherwise 10% mortality), the treatment options (some drugs, but nothing that can be considered a "cure"), remission rates (so incredibly rare that the percentages are fractions). We're learning where it is on the "most likely to kill you" list of diseases (it kills 6% of cancer patients), diagnosis rates (about 35,000 a year are diagnosed, 2.5% of new cancer cases annually), and funding for research - it gets the least amount of money (about $1200 per patient).
This isn't like the information that went around when Michael Landon announced he had pancreatic cancer and that it had spread but he was going to fight it - the standard brave statement that a lot of people make. The right statement with the right attitude, I will add. The traditional media didn't give a lot of attention to the disease but instead to what the tabloids were saying - that he was on the verge of death, that he and this wife were valiantly trying to have another child before he died. Not much about the disease or treatment was being said, as I recall. The tabloids were having a field day though. He died 3 months after the announcement.
Despite that and the scary statistics, I feel a little more optimistic. I'm hopeful that Swayze will beat the odds and come out the other side a little worse for wear, but alive. I seriously think that I'd cry if I read that he passed away. Even DH was a little stunned and disappointed to hear the news when I broke it to him. Despite the cheesy roles, there's just something about Swayze that makes you like the character, cheer for the character, believe in it just a little bit. Like Johnny Castle, James Dalton, or even Jed (from 'Red Dawn')
...I just really don't want him to embody, for lack of a better word, Sam Wheat ("Ghost").
All statistics were gathered from various news stories and websites...