As he wages the battle of his life against cancer, the actor is never alone

Facing the battle of his life against pancreatic cancer, Patrick Swayze knows he won’t be fighting alone: at his side is Lisa, his wife of 32 years, PEOPLE reports in its new cover story.

Whether keeping track of her husband’s medications, pureéing special high-fat meals for him or flying him to his chemotherapy treatments at Stanford University Medical Center in Stanford, Calif. – like Swayze, she is a licensed pilot – Lisa, according to the actor’s younger brother, Don Swayze, “is a pillar of strength.”

As is Patrick himself. Five weeks ago, as he discussed his options during a conference call with doctors, brother Don was in awe: “I was looking in his eyes and I didn’t see a flicker [of fear].”

Says Don: “I saw him think about it for like five seconds, and then he moved right into, ‘Well, we’ve got a battle ahead of us.’ You never really know what kind of soldier you would be until you’re faced with the battle of your life. He’s a warrior.”

For the full story on Patrick’s determination and Lisa’s loving care, pick up this week’s PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday