Dirty Dancing star Patrick Swayze's widow, Lisa Niemi, said that even though her husband's battle with cancer lasted nearly two years, that did not prepare her for his death in September.

This is all new to me, and I thought during the 22 months of my husband's illness that it gave me all this time to get used to the idea of losing him, Niemi said on Tuesday, in her first public appearance since Swayze's death.

I found for myself that when I actually got to that point, I said, 'No, no, no.' It wasn't the same at all. The actual loss is an animal of its own, she said at a panel discussion on grief at the Women's Conference in Long Beach, California.

Niemi was joined California first lady Maria Shriver, actress and activist Susan Saint James and Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of former presidential candidate John Edwards, who has herself battled cancer.

Cancer may have taken Patrick, but it didn't beat him, Niemi said. The Dirty Dancing star died on September 14 at the age of 57.

Niemi will talk more about loving and losing her husband of 34 years to pancreatic cancer, in an interview with chat show host Oprah Winfrey due to air on Friday.