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Roger Ebert fighting cancer again, film critic taking 'leave of presence'

Get more: Roger Ebert
01/04/2011 by Daniel Reynolds

Two thumbs up for Roger Ebert. Despite a recurrence of cancer, the critic is determined that the show must go on -- albeit at a more manageable pace.

The 70-year-old writer is taking a "leave of presence" from his position as film critic at the Chicago Sun-Times, according to his recent post on the Illinois newspaper's blog. Ebert attributed the move, which he described as a lessening of his workload, to complications related to his ensuing battle with cancer.

"It means I am not going away," said Ebert, who recently learned that a "painful fracture" was actually a recurrence of cancer. "My intent is to continue to write selected reviews but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers handpicked and greatly admired by me. What's more, I'll be able at last to do what I've always fantasized about doing: reviewing only the movies I want to review."

The Pulitzer Prize-winning writer attributed the change of pace to the debilitating effects of radiation treatment for papillary thyroid cancer, which he was first diagnosed with in 2002. Throughout the past decade, Ebert's disease has resulted in three surgeries and two hip fractures, inhibiting his movement and making it "impossible for [Ebert] to attend as many movies as [he] used to."

Ebert confided that the experience has motivated him to consider expanding his writing topics from movies to more personal medical matters.

"So on bad days I may write about the vulnerability that accompanies illness," said Ebert. "On good days, I may wax ecstatic about a movie so good it transports me beyond illness."

Ebert, whose career as a professional critic with the Chicago Sun-Times began in 1967, assured his readers that his illness will not inhibit the production or progress of his other projects, including his annual film festival "Ebertfest" held April 17-21 as well as the relaunch of his website RogerEbert.com.

He also plans to revive "At The Movies," a popular television show that first premiered in 1982 and co-starred his friend and fellow critic Gene Siskel, who died of brain cancer in 1999. To gain funding for the project, Ebert announced that he will launch a Kickstarter campaign within the coming weeks.

The film critic ended his article with a nod of thanks for his fans.

"So on this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I'll see you at the movies."

Check out an interview with Roger Ebert from 2009, in which he shares his Oscar picks for that year. (Watch it above.)

UPDATE: Roger Ebert has died at age 70, the Chicago Sun-Times announced on Thursday, April 4. Check out details.

Check out an interview with Roger Ebert from March 2011, in which he spoke about the way he communicates post-surgery, courtesy of WLS Television in Chicago, the sister station of KABC Television, OTRC.com's parent company.

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