PATRICK SWAYZE made his first public appearance since his pancreatic cancer diagnosis to provide a big surprise at the start of America’s Stand Up 2 Cancer telethon on Friday night (05Sep08).
The Ghost star stepped out from behind a screen at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood to a standing ovation.
Looking thin, but healthy, the ailing actor said, “I keep dreaming of a future, a future with a long and healthy life, a life not lived in the shadow of cancer, but in the light.
“I dream that everyone diagnosed will be fortunate enough to have hope, that every human being lost to cancer isn’t gone, but is standing here with us tonight.
“I see a future where all scientists come together with a unified agenda, and share their research and their brilliance…
“We can do anything, but the longer we do nothing, more people will die.
Together, we can the make a world where cancer no longer means living with fear, without hope or worse.
“Tonight I stand here, another individual living with cancer, who asks that we not wait any longer and I ask only one thing of you – please stand up with me.”
Swayze then joined celebrities like Keanu Reeves, Kirsten Dunst, breast cancer survivor Melissa Etheridge and Salma Hayek to man phones, on which donations would be called in throughout the evening, on the stage at the Kodak.
Sidney Poitier, Jodie Foster and Christina Ricci were among the talking heads who opened the taped segment of the Stand Up 2 Cancer telethon.
The hour-long cancer awareness special, which aired simultaneously on America’s three top TV networks, ABC, CBS and NBC, began with a somber reminder that one American died from cancer during the 30-second message.
Oscar winner Poitier ended the hard-hitting message by stating, “This is where the end of cancer begins… Stand up to cancer.”
The TV special then turned to U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois, where cycling champion Lance Armstong and other cancer survivors addressed cameras with dramatic statistics about the disease.
Armstrong said, “We stand up to the epidemic of cancer, that kills over 550,000 Americans every year and approximately six million people worldwide.
“Fifteen hundred Americans will die today from cancer – that’s the equivalent of 9/11 every two days.”
To further hammer home his stark message, Armstrong asked every other person in the packed Chicago White Sox ballpark to sit down, and then added coldly, “That is roughly how many of you will get cancer in your lifetime – one in two men and one in three women.”
The telethon featured films about cancer awareness and breakthroughs, special messages from those who had suffered at the hands of the disease and performances by pop stars like James Taylor and breast cancer survivor Sheryl Crow.