Star Trek Actress Shares Incredible Survival Story After 96% Chance Of Death

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

Star Trek is a franchise filled with death-defying exploits, but when the cameras are off, the stars mostly lead safe lives (not counting the mental toll of hearing increasingly bonkers questions from fans at conventions). However, Trek actress Kitty Swink managed to defy death in a big way, and she didn’t get any help from Dr. Bashir. Instead, the combination of real-life doctors and her own sheer willpower helped her survive pancreatic cancer after she was told she only had a four percent chance of survival.

Kitty Swink Beat The Odds

Since she only appeared in the franchise a handful of times, you’d be forgiven for asking, “Wait, who the heck did Kitty Swink play in Star Trek?” On Deep Space Nine, she appeared in two episodes, playing Bajoran Minister Rozahn in the second season episode, “Sanctuary,” and playing the Vorta Luaran in the seventh season episode, “Tacking Into the Wind.” She also voiced Luaran again in the relatively obscure (but surprisingly decent) video game Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – The Fallen.

Married To Armin Shimmerman

star trek quark

Kitty Swink also has a connection to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine that goes far beyond her appearance in a couple of episodes. She is married to Armin Shimerman, the acting legend best known for playing the hilariously irritable Ferengi bartender Quark. Frighteningly enough, Swink might very well have died if she hadn’t taken Shimerman’s advice one fateful day.

According to Kitty Swink, she noticed she had started losing weight in 2004, but because she has always been skinny, she didn’t worry too much. She was also experiencing back pain that she attributed to stress, but Shimerman was convinced something else was going on. Because his wife had battled breast cancer before, he insisted that she go to the doctor and ask about her recent symptoms.

Her Husband Saved Her Life

As it turned out, Kitty Swink took Shimerman’s advice just in time to save her life. The day after she had bloodwork done at the doctor’s office, her urine began turning brown, and her doctor then called with a dire warning that her liver and kidneys were beginning to shut down. She had jaundiced skin by the time she was taken to the emergency room, and after a CT scan and biopsy, her doctor dropped the scary news on her: she had pancreatic cancer, a diagnosis that is all too often fatal.

Life-Saving Surgery

The treatment for her pancreatic cancer was swift and a bit scary: Kitty Swink told PEOPLE, “Seventeen days later, I came out of Cedars-Sinai with half my stomach, half my pancreas, my gallbladder gone, two feet of my intestines removed out, 28 lymph nodes removed and a 4% chance of surviving five years.” Most people might despair at those odds, but Swink vividly remembers telling her husband four words that would prove to be prophetic: “I’m going to live.”

Trek Against Pancreatic Cancer

Looking back, Kitty Swink admitted, “I don’t know why I thought I was going to live, but I thought, ‘I have things to do.'” That was 20 years ago, and not only has the actress survived, but she has found quite a few things to do. On top of continuing her acting career, Swink raises both money and awareness for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and is a major part of the team Trek Against Pancreatic Cancer.

Other Trek Alum Impacted By Pancreatic Cancer

jonathan frakes

In the best spirit of Star Trek, Kitty Swink isn’t doing this alone: her team also includes Star Trek: The Next Generation actor Jonathan Frakes (who sadly lost a brother to pancreatic cancer 20 years ago) and Enterprise actor John Billingsley (whose mother died to pancreatic cancer). Their support gives Swink hope for the future, as does the fact that the odds of surviving for five years after a pancreatic cancer diagnosis have gone from four percent to 13 percent. By further educating individuals and even doctors about what to look for, Swink is doing her part to save as many lives as possible.

In addition to raising awareness and saving lives, Kitty Swink has also focused on getting the most out of every day. In a franchise filled with inspiring characters, the actress has proven to be an amazing hero in real life. She has, as Spock would say, lived long and prospered, and she has devoted her life to making sure everyone else can do the same.

Source: PEOPLE

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