Swayze’s widow delivers message of hope and healing

Friday, May 1, 2015

Trumbull , CT (May 1, 2015) – More than 100 people attended the April 25 Yale New Haven Health Cancer College at the Trumbull Marriott to learn about the latest advances in cancer prevention and treatment. Lisa Niemi Swayze, widow of actor Patrick Swayze, was the keynote speaker at the conference, which was presented by the Norma F. Pfriem Cancer Institute at Bridgeport Hospital and Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven. Patrick Swayze died of pancreatic cancer in 2009.

“Being a caregiver can be emotionally and physically exhausting,” Niemi Swayze said about her cancer journey with Patrick. “One thing that helped me get through it was knowing how other people survived.”

“You get this incredible fear and grief but also the most shining hope you could ever imagine, Niemi Swayze told the audience. “Facing death teaches you how to live and what’s important in life. I wake up every morning and say, ‘This is a gift.’”

Niemi Swayze is a director, producer, actress, dancer and activist. She also wrote the New York Times bestseller Worth Fighting For – Love, Loss and Moving Forward about the years surrounding Patrick’s death.

The Cancer College also included breakout sessions with nearly a dozen physicians on a number of cancer topics. Speakers included Drs. Andrew Bedford, Neal Fischbach, Shareef Jandali, Andrew Kenler, Sajid Khan, Bruce McGibbon, Justin Persico, Dan-Arin Silasi and Veronica Waks.

“This is an exciting time in oncology,” said Robert Folman, MD, co-medical director of the Norma Pfriem Cancer Institute, during his welcoming remarks. “What excites me the most is what we’re learning at the molecular level. This will drive new advances in care, for example, the development of new cancer drugs.”

Dr. Folman also commented on the construction of the new Yale New Haven Health Park Avenue  Medical Center in Trumbull. Ground was broken for the 120-thousand-square-foot building last September and construction is expected to be completed in Spring 2016. The three-story building will house a walk-in clinic, space for plastic surgeons, outpatient operating rooms and a gastroenterology-endoscopy suite, among other services. Outside the building will be a “Healing Garden,” where patients and their families can rest, reflect, talk and enjoy the fresh air.

Many services are already based at the same location, just off Exit 47 of the Merritt Parkway, where the borders of Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield and Trumbull come together. They include a Smilow Care Center, which provides chemotherapy, radiation oncology, diagnostic imaging, laboratory services, access to clinical trials and patient and family support services. The site is also home to a satellite office of Bridgeport Hospital’s Norma Pfriem Breast Center.

“During the last five years, the Norma Pfriem Cancer Institute and Smilow Cancer Hospital have been working together to bring world-class care to Fairfield County,” said Peg Parniawski, Patient Care Services director of the Cancer Institute. We’re living the dream of providing state-of-the-art cancer care right here in our own community.”      


Bridgeport Hospital, part of Yale New Haven Health System, is a 383-bed acute care hospital (plus 42 beds licensed to Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital) serving parts of Fairfield and New Haven counties. The hospital admits more than 18,000 patients and receives more than 240,000 outpatient visits annually. The Connecticut Burn Center at Bridgeport Hospital is the only burn center in the state and one of only 62 verified burn centers in the United States.

Bridgeport Hospital, part of Yale New Haven Health, is a non-profit 501-bed acute care hospital with two campuses (plus 42 beds licensed to Yale New Haven Children's Hospital). Its Bridgeport and Milford Campuses serve patients from across the region. The hospital admits more than 23,000 patients and provides nearly 350,000 outpatient treatments annually. The Connecticut Burn Center at Bridgeport Hospital is the only burn center in the state and one of only 64 verified burn centers in the United States. Bridgeport Hospital is committed to providing safe, compassionate and cost efficient care to its patients and the community.

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