CHICAGO (AP) _ Just two weeks ago, Walter Payton told author Don Yaeger that he would beat the long odds against recovering from cancer and liver disease.

``They're going to write about me in the medical journals,'' the former Chicago Bears' star told Yaeger, who was working with him on his autobiography.

Yaeger, who documented Payton's last days for a Sports Illustrated story, told the Chicago Tribune that despite his refusal to give up, the NFL's career rushing leader was at peace.

Payton, who died Monday, disclosed in February that he had the rare liver disease primary sclerosing cholangitis and needed a liver transplant.

Yaeger said Payton learned during an examination at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., in May that he had cancer of the bile duct, a vessel that carries digestive fluids from the liver to the small intestine, the Tribune reported today.

Yaeger said the news devastated Payton, who thought he was nearing the point when he would be eligible for a liver transplant. Instead, he went home to face death.

Ginny Quirk, Payton's business manager, said Payton kept the news of his cancer quiet because he did not want people to feel sorry for him.

Yaeger said Payton asked to go home from the hospital last Tuesday, after his kidneys shut down. He was given 24-to-48 hours to live but lived six more days.

Yaeger said the title Payton picked for the book is ``Never Die Easy,'' a reference to a quote about his running style.

``He intended the book to be inspirational,'' Yaeger said. ``He made me promise that wouldn't depress people. He said, `Make sure people get a lot of good out of this story.' ''