The Time of My Life

The Time of My Life

by Patrick Swayze, Lisa Niemi Swayze


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781439158616
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: 07/06/2010
Pages: 247
Sales rank: 161,740
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Patrick Swayze was a three-time Golden Globe-nominated actor best known for his leading-man roles in two of the most beloved pictures of all time: “Ghost” and“Dirty Dancing.” Along with these high grossing, history-making films, many of his other movies have achieved a cult following, and his television series, “The Beast,” was a critical success. Also a singer/songwriter, dancer, and stage actor, Swayze grew up in Houston, Texas. He passed away in September 2009.

Lisa Niemi
wrote, directed and produced the film “One Last Dance” in 2004. She has held many film, television, and Broadway roles and also wrote, directed and starred in the play “Without a Word” with her husband, garnering six Drama Critics Awards. Before turning to directing and acting, Niemi began her professional life as a dancer. Lisa resides on a ranch outside Los Angeles.

Lisa Niemi Swayze is the coauthor of The Time of My Life, which she wrote with her late husband, Patrick Swayze. She wrote, directed, and produced the film One Last Dance in 2004. She has held many film, television, and Broadway roles and in addition, she wrote, directed, and starred in the play Without a Word with her husband, garnering six Drama Critics Awards.

Read an Excerpt


In late December 2007, life was looking pretty good. I had just wrapped shooting on the pilot of a new TV series, The Beast. My wife, Lisa, and I were enjoying a second honeymoon of sorts after a long, difficult period in which we had grown painfully apart. And I was feeling excited about new work, new directions, and the promise of the future.

Lisa and I were planning to spend New Year's Eve at our ranch in New Mexico, as we'd done for the past few years. But first, we stopped off in Aspen to visit a couple of friends. It was there that I got the first hint that something was wrong.

I had been having some digestive trouble, mostly acid reflux and a kind of bloated feeling, for a few weeks. I've had a sensitive stomach my whole life, so I hadn't thought much of it, but lately I just couldn't shake the constant discomfort. I wasn't hungry and felt sick whenever I did eat, but I'd always been pretty healthy, so I figured the feeling would pass eventually.

In Aspen, we all raised glasses of champagne for a toast. I took a sip, and as the champagne began to course through my esophagus to my stomach, I nearly choked -- it burned like acid going down. It felt like I'd drunk lye, a sharp, searing pain that brought tears to my eyes. I'd never felt anything like it, but not wanting to ruin the festivities, I said nothing to Lisa. I was used to ignoring pain, so I just didn't drink any more champagne that night, and didn't think anything more about it.

Three weeks later, in January 2008, I learned that the burning in my stomach wasn't some minor irritation. It was the result of blockage in my bile ducts, which was caused by pancreatic cancer -- just about the most deadly, untreatable cancer you can get.

When my doctor at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles said the words "pancreatic cancer," a single thought popped into my mind: I'm a dead man. That's what I had always thought when I heard someone had pancreatic cancer, and it usually turned out to be true. My doctor told me that my chances of surviving for more than a few months weren't high, and I had no reason to doubt him.

A lot of things go through your head when you get a death sentence handed to you, starting with Why me? What did I do to deserve this? Once the shock wears off, it's hard not to sink into bitterness, to feel that you've been singled out in a way that's not fair. For me, that initial shock quickly turned to selfcriticism and blame. Did I do this to myself? What could I have done differently? Is it my fault?

In those first few weeks after my diagnosis, amid the whirlwind of figuring out treatments and medication, I struggled, with Lisa's help, to make sense of what was happening to me. Trying to counteract all the negative emotions that kept welling up -- anger, bitterness, despair -- I began thinking to myself, I've had more lifetimes than any ten people put together, and it's been an amazing ride. So this is okay.

I was trying to find a way to accept what was going on, but then a funny thing happened. I just couldn't. I wasn't ready to go, and I was damned if this disease was going to take me before I was good and ready. So I said to my doctor, "Show me where the enemy is, and I will fight him." I wanted to understand exactly what I was up against so I could go after this cancer rather than waiting for it to beat me. And in the year and a half since my diagnosis, that's exactly what I've done, with every ounce of energy I have.

Fighting cancer has been the most challenging and eyeopening experience I've ever had, and it has sent me on an emotional journey deeper than anything I've felt before. Facing your own mortality is the quickest way possible to find out what you're made of. It strips away all the bullshit and exposes every part of you -- your strengths and weaknesses, your sense of self. Your soul.

It also leads you to confront life's hardest questions: Is there a heaven? Will I make it in? Has this life counted for something other than just my own narcissism? Have I lived a good life? Am I a good person? It's easy to dismiss these difficult questions when you have your whole life ahead of you. But when you're faced with your own mortality, they suddenly take on a whole new meaning.

There's a scene at the end of Saving Private Ryan that really resonated with me when I first saw it, and it does now more than ever. As an old man, Private Ryan muses aloud about whether he's lived a good life. "I tried to live my life the best I could," he says. "I hope that was enough." It's so hard to judge your own life, to know whether you've made a mark in this world. Doing this book was, in part, a quest to find that out for myself.

I've never been one to spend a lot of time dwelling in the past, so spending time with Lisa looking back at our lives has been really illuminating. Especially in light of what our future now holds, it has also been cathartic. I never felt like I had all the answers, and I certainly don't claim to now. Yet the one thing I realized as Lisa and I retraced the arc of our lives is that no matter what happened, we never, ever gave up -- on each other, or on our dreams. I'm far from perfect, and I've made a lot of mistakes in my life. But that's one thing we both got right, and it's the one thing that's keeping me going today.

As I write this, sitting in our beautiful ranch home in New Mexico with the sun beaming down on the mountains, I realize yet again how much more I want to do in this life. Together with Lisa, I'll keep on pushing, keep on believing. Because that, in the end, is the greatest gift we have.

Patrick Swayze June 2009

As Patrick and I have been writing this book, I couldn't help but be amazed by all the stories of things we've done and been through. It was surprising to me how hard we've both worked our whole lives, how focused and single-minded we could be. It must be the dancer in us. Always striving to be more, do better, never settle. And that drive to be better has served us well, particularly with all that we're going through now.

Looking back now, I wish I had done more of the proverbial "stop and smell the roses." So many gorgeous, beautiful things have happened in my life and I was too busy moving forward to really, truly recognize and enjoy them. I'm feeling different these days. Today I find myself much more willing to take luxurious, selfish pleasure in how beautiful a day is, the wonderful smell of my favorite mare's hair, and how much overflowing love I feel for my husband.

After Patrick was first diagnosed, I found myself wanting to go back in time and fix all the bumps that we had ever encountered. I wished we could start all over again so that this time we could do it differently. We could be wiser, avoid all those wrong turns we made, and not waste so much time. This time we would laugh more, touch each other more, and simply love each other in the way our true selves always have. And of course, if this daydream came true, I'd get a chance to live our lives together all over again, fulfilling my greatest wish -- to have more time with him.

In some ways, getting to do this book gave me a passport into the past. But not in the way I had thought. It couldn't elongate my time with him, but it did show me that some of those bumps I wished I could get rid of don't look so bad when we keep coming out on the other side. And they're a testament to the strength of what we are together.

You'd think that when someone close to you receives a death sentence it would inspire amazing insights and lessons about life. I know that's what I thought. But after his diagnosis, and after I started to recover from feeling I was trapped in a perpetual nightmare, I looked around and couldn't see a damn lesson in sight. Yet slowly, as I've been dealing with getting past the initial grief and fear, living each day that comes and running around preparing for all the things one can't possibly prepare for, the lessons have started to ease out into the open. I couldn't force them out any sooner. They come in their own time when they, and you, are good and ready.

There's a lot of wisdom in the idea of living one day at a time. And when you might not have someone for long, that's what starts to happen.

I used to be afraid of time -- that I'd run out of it, that I wouldn't have time to do all the things I wanted. Now I'm seeing each minute that passes as a victory. As something I'm proud of. It's like I can gather all these minutes into my arms as if they're an enormous mass of jewels. Look what I have -- another moment! A kiss, a stroke of the skin on my husband's arm, the light coming through the window just so...Each of these jewels gives me the confidence to stand up and look Death in the face and say, "No one's going anywhere today."

I can help Patrick -- I can coach him, love him, track his medications and calories, be there to kick him in the pants or just hold his hand if he needs it. But I can't save him. And I try to remember that. But I've got the best possible thing on my side: Patrick himself. I love that he's such a fighter. He's so amazingly strong and beautiful. He's my best weapon against this terrible disease.

You know, we were in New Mexico a couple of years after Patrick had broken both his legs in a life-threatening horse accident while filming Letters from a Killer. We walked out into the fresh mountain air, and he had taken off his shirt to enjoy the sun as we strolled into our beautiful fifty-acre pasture to visit with our five spirited Arabian horses. Patrick was rubbing one of the horses on her neck and I had walked off a ways for some reason or another. And I turned around just in time to see him grab a handful of mane and swing himself up on the mare's back. No saddle, no bridle, nothing.

She and the other horses started to trot off together and then, in a tight group, they launched into a full gallop, Patrick riding bareback in the middle of them through the open field. I couldn't believe it. I couldn't help but see how fantastic and free he looked. And I couldn't help but be pissed off. I mean, he'd just broken his legs a year or so earlier in that horse accident and he was going to risk doing it again?

The horses had their joyride and slowed to an easy trot, and Patrick hopped off blithely, unscathed. As he walked over to me he smiled a little sheepishly, waiting to see if I was going to admonish him. But I couldn't. I could only shake my head and try my best not to smile. This is the man who's taken on cancer. As always, he's on the ride of his life. And I know that he's going to ride this horse as far as it'll go.

Lisa Niemi July 2009

Copyright © 2009 by Troph Productions, Inc.

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The Time of My Life 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 135 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this book yesterday afternoon and started reading it almost immediately. I've never been one to just sit and read a book, but once I started reading this, I had a hard time putting it down. I read 3/4 of it last night and finished reading it this morning. I found myself laughing and crying throughout the whole book. It has such a powerful message. Definitely a MUST read! All I can say is WOW!
Naomie More than 1 year ago
This is my first review and I felt I had to tell everyone about my experience reading this book. I purchased 'The Time of My Life' because I heard a little about who Patrick Swayze was as a person and I was looking to be inspired. I really could not put the book down - I just finished reading the memoir today. Patrick and Lisa did in fact inspire me. It was the ultimate love story - not the unrealistic fairy tale type of story. I enjoyed the photos and personal photo captions, seeing the smiles on Patrick and Lisa's faces put a smile on mine. I enjoyed reading about the perseverance related to his sports and dance history. I recommend this book to everyone. It was a memoir that touched on many subjects: 1.)Showed deep spiritual insight in lifes many ups and downs. 2.)Covered personal choices both good and bad. 3.) Told of husband and wife teamwork. 4.)Taught of dealing with depression and overcoming obstacles and grief. 5.) Inspired me to strive for more and to follow my dreams and passions. Patrick Swayze - may you rest in peace. I know that your memoir can help people in their own life endeavors. You proved to me that men can be both strong and sensitive and I hope there are more men like you out there! Lisa Niemi and family - I offer my condolences for your loss.
labecky More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the book. Of course I am a Patrick Swayze fan, but the depth of his determination to be the best dancer, the best actor was very enlightening. The love he had for his wife, Lisa and the strong endurance of their love and marriage in today's society, especially being such a popular male star, proves that there are still true love stories to be told. Their devotion to each other in the face of death was sad and bittersweet.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it! Patrick Swayze wrote in such a way that it made you believe he was sitting there telling his story directly to you. May have to get the CD and actually listen to his voice tell the story. Very touching, interesting and compelling. His passing was a great loss.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book , I loved Patrick Swayze big fan of his , I cannot put it down once I start to read it gives alot of insight to their marriage and life in general . I can't wait to finish . Great attribute to a wonderful actor .
grnwell More than 1 year ago
This book was very inspirational, I enjoyed it and also shared it with my daughter and mother they also loved it. It really makes you think about life. Wonderful to liston to I bought the audio and with Patrick and Lisa telling made it so inlighting.
mlboyd58 More than 1 year ago
I learned a lot about Patrick with this book, it made me laugh and cry but most of all it made me fall in love with him all over again. He will be extremely missed. I didn't realize how much pain he was in all his life but he never showed it, how much he loved his wife Lisa, his love for dancing and most of all his strength and courage. Patrick was a very strong person!! I would recommend this book to anyone that loves Patrick and that who loves too laugh and cry, who wants to learn about a person that we thought we knew as a person but not really. I don't know what I expected for an ending but it left me wanting more. I will miss you terribly, you are an inspiration to all of us!!
debrn More than 1 year ago
This is a touching look into the relationship between Patrick Swayze and his wife Lisa Niemi. It was amazing the struggles they went through from the time they met until the time of Patrick's death. The love between them was one of a kind and thankfully they were together until the disease took Patrick's life. Through this book, their love and his spirit will live forever.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great read and I recommend it highly! You will laugh and cry. Patrick was a great actor and his work will live on for generations to come. The love shared between Patrick and Lisa was so special and so rare in today's world. During his battle with cancer, he fought for survival with bravery and dignity. He was truly an inspiration! My condolences to his family. You can tell from reading this book how much he loved them and how much they loved him. Patrick will be sorely missed.
Palyoos More than 1 year ago
I've loved and enjoyed watching Patrick Swayze over the years. His memoir lets the reader know the real man behind the man and the artist. There was a lot about Patrick that I didn't know and was happy that he was so generous to let us, his fans, know more about his life, growing up and the unfolding of his successful career and personal life with his long-love, Lisa. The two are also an example, long lost on Hollywood, about 2 people being in love and making a long, happy marriage work, despite the everyday setbacks. The two of them are wonderful people - and I know Lisa will forever cherish having shared his life with Patrick. I loved this book and would recommend it to anyone interested in being inspired by someone who tried so hard and never gave up, no matter what the odds. Patrick, we love you, may you rest in peace. I know, wherever you are you're probably giving someone a run for their money!
Alla_S More than 1 year ago
In his beautiful memoir "Time of My Life," legendary actor Patrick Swayze along with his wife Lisa Niemi, poignantly looks back on his life and career. Growing up in Texas in the fifties and sixties, Swayze was very energetic and multi-talented from the very beginning-engaging in football, gymnastics, music, and dance. He first met his future wife Lisa, when she was fifteen and taking dancing lessons from his mother. The pair were later re-united in New York, where Swayze was pursuing a ballet career. However, due to a severe knee injury dating back to his high school days, Patrick had to quit ballet and turn to a path that would ultimately make him a celebrity-acting. After starring in a couple of musicals, Swayze contacted an L.A. based talent manager who had Texas roots and knew his mother. This resulted in Swayze's Broadway portrayal of Danny Zucko in "Grease," and Swayze's rocky relocation to Los Angeles. Through it all, Lisa was by his side as they struggled to survive on little money by freelancing in carpentry and waiting for Patrick's acting career to take off. I found this book very well-written and hard to put down. Some of the things included were intimate such as Lisa's letters and Patrick's memories of losing his father and later his unborn child. Swayze also recounts his involvement in various movies-everything from "Ghost" and "Dirty Dancing" to "City of Light" and "Road House." Overall, this book was a wonderful behind-the-scenes look at the life of a Hollywood heartthrob whose iconic movie performances and great personality will be remembered for a long time to come.
Sherrylee More than 1 year ago
I was and will always be a fan of Patrick Swayze. He was an amazing talent. His book was very good. I took me three days to read it. The love he and Lisa shared is one of a kind. They had a great life together.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Patrick. My husband thinks that sometimes I love Patrick more then him. I bought this book yesterday and started to read it. I can not put it down. There are also pictures in the book which shows us alot of his life. You will regret not buying his book if you are a fan. I also bought the book on cds which Patrick will read. I can not wait for that they are being shipped as we speak. Love this book and Patrick.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Swayze had an amazing life its just sad RIP
1Love More than 1 year ago
This was a good book, I loved Patrick's honesty and insite into his life and his fight with cancer.
Morgan McCann More than 1 year ago
i love mr swazye and this book rocks
taraisarockstar More than 1 year ago
I grew up on Patrick's movies and this book helped me to understand a life that was lost too soon. The writing techniques weren't spectacular but the story itself is well worth the read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a wonderful love story and how these two people, no matter what, worked to stay together through good and bad.
yogadancer More than 1 year ago
For Swayzee fans, dancers, and performing artists it's a must read. The book is very honestly written. Patrick struggled with a lot of demons in his life. It's another reminder that the life of a celebrity is not what it appears to be to us on the outside. It can be very difficult. At the same time, it is clear that he lived his life to the fullest and that he had a wonderful partner in Lisa Niemi. Their marriage wasn't a fairy tale, but they truly loved each other. This is a love story and a tribute to a man's life. It's a fast read and quite enjoyable.
GJtheReader More than 1 year ago
What a beautiful love story. I found that I didn't want to put it down at times. Their loved survived everything but cancer. They both are a true inspiration to all. I highly recommend this book to all people men or women who have ever been truly and eternally in love. Enjoy!
BONS on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Patrick Swayze & Lisa Niemi have managed to review their lives at a very critical stage. This autobiograpgy has given me a wider perspective on how talented they both were as well as how rare and special of a love they both were blessed with.
RPerritt on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I loved this book. I found out a whole lot about Patrick Swayze that I never knew. He really was a fighter. I think that all Patrick Swayze fans should read this book.
mjmbecky on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I've always loved Patrick Swayze and his work, loved his passion for life, and loved his absolute dedication to the people closest to him. To me, he was a wonderful, surprising man of conviction in an industry that often lack such qualities.Having said that, and knowing some of his background already, I was so touched to learn more about his life. In his autobiography, The Time of My Life, Patrick Swayze reveals many of what he felt were vulnerable aspect of his character, which included his need to master whatever skill he attempted (feeling that he always had to be good at whatever he did), his abiding love for his wife Lisa (which he revealed he always felt she wasn't as in to him as he was into her, which he later learned was totally wrong), and his deep pain over losing a much loved father and its effects on him. I was moved to hear about his vulnerable moments, to hear how he faced them, and even how he overcame the problems he developed with alcohol as he dealt with his pain. To me, Patrick Swayze's life is a real testament to the ups and downs of any person's life, and how we can approach them.As I knew heading into his life story, I also knew that the book was completed shortly before his death in September of last year. Patrick Swayze's battle with pancreatic cancer was known from the beginning, and seems to float over the book as you read, making you think, "Just give it all you've got!" From this, I mean that I kept thinking that had he known, how would he have changed things? I think we all would just say to ourselves, to dig deep and give life all you have.It seemed to me, that in the end, Patrick Swayze honored his own life and what he had accomplished through the way he battled cancer. Cancer will never define him, but strangely shed a light on all the good he had done, and reminded us all of how important it is to reach for happiness each and every day.In synopsis, I highly recommend The Time of My Life. Listen, I'm the first person to run from stories of cancer or dogs (you know...because they always die!), but this autobiography was really moving. Like any human story, it reminded me how precious life is, and even how precious we are as individuals. The walk-away message of this book is varied, and I can say that I have thought about many different aspects of my own life since reading his autobiography. All I can say is, that as a fan, but more as a fellow human being, his life touched mine for good.
SenoraG163 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I love Patrick Swayze and listening to his book, his words, his voice brought it all alive. I laughed, cringed and cried. Excellent telling of his hard road to fame.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not as good as I hoped it would be.