But despite defying the odds, Swayze tells Barbara Walters, in an interview to air Wednesday on ABC, that his road has been difficult. "You can bet that I'm going through hell," he said. "And I've only seen the beginning of it."
Swayze, 56, who went public with his diagnosis last March, says that that indigestion was the first indication that he might have been sick. Then, on New Years' Eve, 2007, he realized something was very wrong.
"I tried to have champagne, and it would be like pouring acid, you know, on an open wound," he says. "I dropped about 20 pounds in the blink of an eye. And then when you see it in the mirror, you pull your eyes down and the bottom of your eyes go yellow and jaundice sets in – then you know something's wrong."
Emotional TollSwayze also admits that the disease has taken an emotional toll. "There's a lot of fear here," he says. "Yeah, I'm scared. Yeah, I'm angry. Yeah, I'm [asking], why me."
The diagnosis has forced Swayze to think more about the afterlife. "I don't know what's on the other side," he says. "It tests everything I believe in – that here is something unique in all of us that does not die."
He also says that he believes that he has several guardian angels – including his father – who are watching over him.
And despite his difficult year, Swayze is still looking ahead. "I keep dreaming of a future, a future with a long and healthy life," he says, "not lived in the shadow of cancer, but in the light."