A month after announcing his struggle with pancreatic cancer, actor Patrick Swayze continues to fight the disease the only way he knows how: with fortitude and optimism. "He has very strong willpower and he's a very determined individual," says his sister-in-law Dr. Maria Scouros, a Houston oncologist. "He's bringing all that energy to bear on it." So far his plan of attack seems to be working. Swayze's physician, Dr. George Fisher, tells PEOPLE that the actor "continues to respond well" to his chemotherapy and "because of his excellent response, he will continue the same therapy" at Stanford University Medical Center.

The positive news is helping the actor, 55, and wife Lisa, 51, remain hopeful and upbeat. "We're thrilled and grateful for the positive response Patrick has shown towards his treatment," the couple tell PEOPLE in an exclusive statement. "Also, we can't help but feel that all the prayers, meditations and good thoughts sent his way by everyone have made a difference. Thank you!" His spirits buoyed by the outpouring of goodwill, Swayze "is very focused," says Scouros, "and positive about what he has to do."

  • Contributors:
  • Julie Jordan/Los Angeles.