It's been an uphill climb for Patrick Swayze's wife, actress Lisa Niemi, since her universally-loved husband passed away a year ago, but things are starting to look up.

"In some ways I look at the anniversary and think, 'It's either going to knock me down or it's going to make me stronger," Niemi told PEOPLE. "And I know I'm stronger now. The fact that I've had some good days definitely gives me hope that I can have more."

With her spirits on the mend, Niemi is determined to honor her husband's memory. She is now a spokeswoman for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and has launched an awareness campaign in Swayze's name called 'Be a Hero in the Fight Against Pancreatic Cancer: Know it. Fight it. End it.'