In his memoir, the late actor tells how he sought the meaning of life after his "death sentence"

By Michael Y. Park
Updated September 28, 2009 01:00 PM
David Longendyke/Globe

“When my doctors at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles said the words ‘pancreatic cancer,’ a single thought popped into my head: I’m a dead man.”

So says the late actor Patrick Swayze, who two weeks ago died of the disease at age 57. His inner thoughts on his acting career, his illness and his legacy are being aired in his audiobook Time of My Life, which Simon & Schuster is releasing Tuesday.

PHOTOS: Patrick Swayze Remembered
In the tapes, which Swayze narrated himself (along with Lisa Niemi), the actor recalls how he sank into a miasma of “anger, bitterness and despair” soon after finding out that he wasn’t likely to live past a few months. News of his cancer diagnosis was first announced in spring 2008. He wrote his memoirs in June 2009 at his home in New Mexico.

“Now, a lot of things go through your head when you get a death sentence handed to you, starting with: ‘Why me?’ ” he says. “It’s hard not to sink into bitterness For me, that initial shock quickly turned into self-criticism and blame.”

After struggling with a period where he racked his brain trying to figure out what he’d done wrong in his life to deserve cancer, Swayze came out fighting, he says.

“I was not ready to go, and I’d be damned if this disease was going to take me before I was good and ready,” he says. “So I said to my doctor, ‘Show me where the enemy is and I’ll fight him.’ ”

What followed was what Swayze calls “the most challenging, eye-opening battle I’ve ever had.”

Recalls His High Points

The actor also looks back on his life, including one of the highlights of his career – the pottery-making moment with Demi Moore in 1990’s Ghost. “We really made up the scene as we went along,” he says. “It was pretty sexy playing in all that clay, so all we had to do was go with it She was very warm, much warmer than she’d been in the other scenes we’d been in together.”

And, a fighter to the end, he says only a couple months before his death that he was still looking for new roles to assume.

“Whenever someone asks me what my legacy is, I say the same thing,” he says. “I’m not finished yet.”