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Posted at 10:43 AM ET, 03/ 6/2008

Celebritology 101: Here's the Line. Right HERE.

By Liz Kelly

News of the Patrick Swayze's cancer diagnosis hit the Interwebs yesterday afternoon with all the force of a major scoop. "CONFIRMED!!! Patrick Swayze DOES have cancer!", breathlessly reported one celeb-tracking blog, with exclamation-ing worthy of a Britney crotch shot story.

Another site, reporting that Swayze's illness is "shrouded in secrecy," goes on to detail his supposed treatment and the inevitable debilitating side effects. I shudder to think about the contingent of paps being redeployed from Paris Hilton guru duty to capture the first images of a cancer-ravaged Swayze for the highest bidder.

And the New York Post jumped on confirmation of Swayze's illness to poke a publicist who had earlier denied Swayze's condition in the eye: "The fork-tongued flack," screams Page Six, "not only denied the story, but said the 'Dirty Dancing' star had checked into Stanford University Medical Center over the Feb. 2 weekend merely for a 'gastrointestinal procedure'." The nerve.

We could pontificate here about the obvious wrong-headedness of making a potentially terminally ill actor the hottest news item going. (And don't get me wrong -- it is news, but a sensation it isn't.) But what could we say that isn't already tacitly understood? The man is sick and incremental news flashes that attempt to somehow turn this into a "story" are just tacky and way over the line. So, fair warning:: If you're in the market for incremental, questionable updates on Patrick Swayze's battle with cancer, please make all haste to another site. It won't be here.

In the meantime, I suggest a Thursday viewing of one of Swayze's first movies, the Francis Ford Coppola directed "The Outsiders" -- available in its entirety on YouTube. Stay gold.

By Liz Kelly  | March 6, 2008; 10:43 AM ET
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The Outsiders...what a book! What a movie! And c' I have to say it again? Wolverines! For years "Red Dawn" remained one of my guilty pleasures until I could stand being in the closet no more. I watch Road House for Jeff Healey, but Swayze was there. I haven't seen 'Ghost' or 'Dirty Dancing' (though I know "nobody puts Baby in a corner.") I dislike the song he sang, "She's like the Wind," but the guy can dance and he's been married to the same gal for almost as long as I've been married to my husband. He's not a schmuck as far as I know and I wish him all the best. Livestrong, Patrick!

Posted by: methinks | March 6, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse


My grandfather died of pancreatic cancer, so my first thoughts this morning when I read that were for his friends and family (and Mr. Swayze himself, of course). My warmest, fuzziest thoughts out to them, because even though I'm not really a huge Patrick Swayze fan (okay...he *was* hot in "North and South"), I certainly don't wish him ill.

This is a scary form of a scary disease. I'm guessing none of these idiots have known anyone who had it, otherwise they would shut the !@#$%^& up. It's not news, it's a very sad occurrence. The last thing Mr. Swayze needs is to be dealing with the tabloid press at this time....

Posted by: Chasmosaur | March 6, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

For years I've always assumed that a Wolverine was a wolf-like animal, I mean all the pictures were of wolves and then there's the Hugh Jackman charactor in X-Men, but while watching the Planet Earth documentary I found out that the Wolverine is actually a ferret looking animal so whenever I hear the roar of WOLVERINE!!!, all I can think of the is the little ferret-like creature.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 6, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, Liz. While I'm interested in knowing how he does, I don't want the man bothered by photographers hanging from trees to get me a picture.

Posted by: Kirsten | March 6, 2008 11:07 AM | Report abuse

well, you don't want to go up against a wolverine, pal. they're vicious.

Posted by: methinks | March 6, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

But if he gets better, *then* I want an update. I love that goofy face.

Posted by: other liz | March 6, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Evening newscasts were reporting he had six weeks to live and one even reported Patrick had until the end of the week.

Patrick's doctor and publicist comments were downplayed by the reporters and instead they seemed to be using the tabloids for information.

Posted by: Lisa1 | March 6, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Are these idiots at the NY Post and elsewhere not familiar with federal privacy laws regarding medical treatment??? It's no one's business if anyone is being treated for anything, unless and until that person goes public with it.

Posted by: arlington | March 6, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Probably this became such a sensational "story" because everyone, whether they admit it or not, is absolutely terrified of cancer. That said, I'm with you, Liz. Sick people should be treated with dignity.

Posted by: possum | March 6, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Patrick Swayze was in one of the best movies of all time for a guy - Road House. What a GREAT movie! I have watched it at least 10 times.
Patrick, I will pray for you!

And he was in two of the best movies of all time for women. (especially in the 30 to 50 year old range) - Ghost and Dirty Dancing
My wife and all of her friends have seen Ghost at least 10 times and say it is the most romantic movie of all time. They are all in their mid 30's to mid 40's. And they say Dirty Dancing is not far behind.

Posted by: dw | March 6, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse


Very classy of you, Liz. Thank you.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 6, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Don't forget the hilarious SNL skit he did with Chris Farley, RIP), as the Chippendale auditionees. Try to Youtube it. Priceless.

Posted by: SNL-fan | March 6, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Liz. Dirty Dancing is one of the first movies I ever really remember watching. Sad :( He doesn't deserve the Britney treatment at all (not even saying she deserves it).

Posted by: Sigh | March 6, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

i just watched the outsiders not too long ago and am heart broken to hear about patrick's cancer. so sad. and thanks liz for giving the man his privacy, gold star for you.

Posted by: melissamac1 | March 6, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I have always loved Patrick Swayze. He has been such an engaging actor and his love for his wife is priceless especially in this industry. I truly admire him. I hope he does well so that we can enjoy many more years of his prescence.

Posted by: MOM | March 6, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

...but this line doesn't apply if it's Dick Cheney, though, right?

Posted by: byoolin | March 6, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

way to keep it classy, byoolin

Posted by: Anonymous | March 6, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Another Patrick Swayze moment on SNL. He guest starred and instead of an opening monologue, he ballroom danced w/ his wife.

Posted by: jlr | March 6, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I applaud the line and wish that other folks would respect his and his family's privacy during what is surely a difficult time.

Personally, though he's most iconic for "Ghost", "Dirty Dancing", and "Roadhouse", I'll always be fond of his turns in "To Wong Foo", "Donnie Darko" and his inspiration of the Mystery Science Theater song, "Let's Have a Patrick Swayze Christmas".

Posted by: CentrevilleMom | March 6, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

I think this diagnosis scares people, which leads to this crazy reaction. Patrick Swayze has always taken amazing care of himself - as evident in that hilarious SNL skit. The fact that someone so healthy and relatively young could get this diagnosis hits a little close to home for some people. Still...that is no reason to harass him. And it won't help anyone!!!

Posted by: ftpltr | March 6, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Oh, CentervilleMom, I love that song!

"This could be the Swayziest Christmas of them all!"

Posted by: RiverCityRoller | March 6, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

I think he is good actor and I have seen everything he has ever been in. I am so sad that he has this horrible form of cancer. I think half of president Carter's family has died from it.

So sad, I hope he beats it.

Posted by: Irishgirl | March 6, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

It's all in Gods hands. We love you Patrick.

Posted by: wendy | March 6, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Why is sensationalizing someone's _mental_ illness okay? Photographers hanging from trees indeed. Did someone say medical privacy?!? Help me find the line, 'cause it sure keeps moving.

Posted by: I don't get it | March 6, 2008 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I agree that a lot of the initial hysteria and inappropriate reaction was probably due to hearing that it was pancreatic cancer, a particularly virulent and deadly form of cancer. People are afraid of it with good reason. I've known several people who have had pancreatic cancer. On the bright side--one friend had a complete recovery that amazed her doctors. It does happen, so let's hope the same for Patrick Swayze.

Best wishes to to him and his family. Let's give them the space and respect they need to deal with this privately. Right call, Liz Kelly.

Posted by: alex | March 6, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Torment and un-ending coverage of a mentally disturbed starlet is OK, but the same coverage of an aging hack actor isn't?

Glad to see age has its privileges on Celebritology.

Posted by: ageist | March 6, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, loved the gratuitously snarky comment about Cheney that somehow had to be worked into a discussion about cancer and medical privacy issues. Sheesh.

Posted by: trulyhilarious | March 6, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

I thought Liz did decide to back off Britney once the nature of her problems (mental illness) became clear. Other than a few updates on the status of the dad's conservatorship and her visitation, hasn't she done that?

Posted by: alexandria | March 6, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

So far there has been two items regarding Swayze on Celebritology and on the home page of the post, on the bar with upcoming chats, there is a picture of Swayze with a comment to join the Celebritology chat to discuss him--how is that backing away from the issue?

And I am with some of the other commenters, so people tormented mentally are fair game? Or perhaps we talk about how ugly Christina Ricci is--that's cool?

Posted by: Ummm... | March 6, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Look, I certainly hope Swayze recovers. And his privacy should of course be respected.

However, the sanctimony about sensationalizing his news is a little... too late? insincere? implausible? I mean, really, this is the site that published very creepy photos of you-know-who being carted off in an ambulance. Not once, but repeatedly. The grab-your-pearls, "Well I never!" attitude is just laughable, considering the GLEE that showed up here when Brit had a nervous breakdown (and subsequent hospitalization).

Sorry, no congratulations on class from this corner.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 6, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

alexandria -- Britney's mental issues became clear long ago; pics of her in the ambulance, leaving the hospital, etc were all posted here, along with minute-to-minute coverage of her every move and a complete timeline of her breakdown.

I don't think Liz decided to lower the volume, I just think there isn't anything new to report because Spears is getting treated. The "Spears Watch" is still a daily item though.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 6, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Good for you, Liz! Medical information, especially a story like this, should not be pursued so vigorously. Even celebs have some rights to privacy.

Britney's a bit different. For one, I do think the news media as a whole has gone too far with this. Two, her medical conditions has direct impact on a host of other Britney-related issues, like custody of her children. The only thing that'll come of Patrick's illness is either remission or death, either of which should be reported when the time comes.

Posted by: DC Cubefarm | March 6, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I agree - one of the thoughts I had (far after "oh my god! That's horrible!" & thoughts for him & his family) was dread - just waiting for the inevitable pictures. I hope to god they don't get it, but those sneaky paparazzo somehow seem to get the pictures.

Best wishes to him & his family. :-(

Posted by: Different Liz | March 6, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Oh, man, pancreatic cancer sucks. That's rough.

Posted by: h3 | March 6, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

I thought the only way to beat pancreatic cancer was having a successful Whipple procedure (Google it), and not everyone is a candidate for this major surgery - I think people who are candidates initially present with jaundice, because the cancer is blocking a duct at the head of the pancreas (and this is a GOOD thing, because that means you caught it early). Absent a Whipple procedure, is this disease not 100% fatal? Does anyone know if Swayze had this done? He apparently had "major gastrointestinal surgery," which would certainly describe this multi-hour procedure. I'm not an expert, but I know a little bit about this - please feel free to correct any errors.

On an optimistic note, I know of a man in his 70s who had this procedure done and is now in his mid-80s and playing golf...

Posted by: D R | March 6, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

DR, Web MD has added a new page with 13 Q&As re Patrick Swayze's illness, which could help others who are unaware they might have pancreatic cancer to get earlier detection.

Posted by: mehitabel | March 6, 2008 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Mehitabel- that link to webMd was useful info. I shuddered when I read the news about Patrick Swayze because from what I've known, pancreatic cancer is usually a death sentence. Now I understand why after reading the article- the cancer is relatively hard to diagnose until it has spread- YIKES. While I certainly hope that Mr. Swayze can recover in peace without the paps swarming in for a good "pic", I think it is useful to hear this news if nothing more than to get an understanding or awareness of this disease...

Posted by: plamar1031 | March 6, 2008 5:35 PM | Report abuse

I don't remember anyone being concerned about Farrah Fawcett's privacy when it was blasted all over the news in 2006 that she had anal cancer. Maybe some sort of epiphany has occurred in the media in the last 2 years. Right.

Posted by: sstarm | March 6, 2008 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Nobody puts Swayze's pancreas in a corner.

Posted by: Dirty Dancer | March 6, 2008 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Nobody puts Swayze's pancreas in a corner.

Posted by: Dirty Dancer | March 6, 2008 7:17 PM | Report abuse

DD: Sorry to disappoint, but LiveJournal user Eithnie posted those same words in my blog several hours ago...

Posted by: byoolin | March 6, 2008 8:02 PM | Report abuse

kudos, liz, on pledging not to disseminate every little variation that the vultures want to report. as much as i would love to understand mr. swazye's condition, as a huge fan of "dirty dancing," i recognize that this time must be quite difficult for him and his family and thus acknowledge that he and his family should be given their privacy during this extradorinarly difficult time.

Posted by: rebelchanteuse | March 7, 2008 2:54 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: susanli1985 | March 7, 2008 4:08 AM | Report abuse

And just in case you forgot, here's my blog again:

Yes, I really am *THAT IMPORTANT*.

(now back to your boring lives and celebritology discussion)

Posted by: byoolin | March 7, 2008 7:27 AM | Report abuse

Still praying and thinking good thoughts for The Swayze. Who doesn't love him? Hasn't he always seemed like a real guy in a fake business? Never a tabloid target, long-time and seemingly happy marriage, doesn't pimp himself out to the limelight. We all went you to do well, Patrick. For reals.

Posted by: jaybbub | March 7, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

I lost my Mother to pancreatic cancer 4 years ago. My thoughts and prayers are with the Swayze's. I hope he wins the war against this hideous disease.

Posted by: no_bs_4me | March 7, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

The Swayze is not me.

Pancreatic cancer is not me.

That's 2 comments having nothing to do with praise for me or my blog. That is. Simply. Unacceptable.

So for the slower witted among you, here's my blog again:
...feel free to bask in its glory.

Posted by: byoolin | March 7, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse preved

Posted by: scuko | April 12, 2008 8:47 AM | Report abuse

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