Fighting cancer has been the most challenging and eye-opening 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
Copyright © Atria Books


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