In a New York Times opinion piece, author and neurologist Oliver Sacks revealed that he has terminal cancer. And even though the cancer is incurable, Sacks wrote that he is not letting it get the best of him.
As Sacks pointed out in his introduction, it was almost a decade ago that he found out that he had ocular melanoma in one of his eyes. After treatment for the ocular melanoma, Sacks was left blind in one eye, but he still continued to work. But Sacks recently discovered that he has multiple metastases in his liver, which is incurable.
“I feel grateful that I have been granted nine years of good health and productivity since the original diagnosis, but now I am face to face with dying. The cancer occupies a third of my liver, and though its advance may be slowed, this particular sort of cancer cannot be halted.”
Even though the cancer is terminal, Oliver Sacks noted that he’s not going to stop living out the rest of his life because of it.
“Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life. On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.”
Despite the revelation of his terminal cancer, fans of Sacks’ work were amazed by what he had to say in his opinion piece.
My Own Life – thought provoking essay from Dr. Oliver Sacks as he faces his final days http://t.co/sl5wv308oT
— Neil Hawkins (@neilchawkins) February 19, 2015
Uplifting and provocative. Thank you, Oliver Sacks, for your gift of wisdom about our own mortality. http://t.co/ZVAm415IsA
— Grace Lee (@DoctorGraceLee) February 19, 2015
Heartbreaking news from Oliver Sacks. But my, what a beautiful way he has of breaking it. http://t.co/RAHXdP1akD
— Matthew Parsons (@MJRParsons) February 19, 2015
Oliver Sacks has authored many books including The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Awakenings. The latter was turned into a 1990 film starring Robin Williams as Malcolm Sayer, a fictional version of Sacks. The film focused on Sacks’ real-life experiment with a drug that helped survivors of encephalitis lethargica.
[Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images]