Author, Doctor Oliver Sacks Announces Cancer Diagnosis In New York Times Essay

Oliver Sacks, the British-born neurologist, writer and well-known professor at New York University School of Medicine, announced Thursday in a New York Times essay that he has terminal cancer. 

Sacks, who is known for his books “Awakenings” and “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat,” wrote that he learned that a cancerous tumor that had been removed from his eye nine years ago had spread, overtaking a third of his liver.

The removal of the tumor left him blind in one eye, he said, and he is one of just 2 percent of patients that have had ocular melanomas spread after their removal.

In the moving essay, the 81-year-old said that his diagnosis has left him to choose how to live out his final months. He said he doesn’t plan to watch news or argue about politics and global warming, but instead will focus on his work and relationships.

“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,” Sacks wrote.

Sacks is originally from London, but has lived in New York City since 1965, according to his website. He began his work as a consulting neurologist at Beth Abraham Hospital in the Bronx, eventually working as a professor at Columbia University and NYU’s medical schools.

His books include histories about patients struggling with neurological ailments, and his book “Awakenings” was the basis for a 1990 movie by the same name starring Robert De Niro and Robin Williams. He is set to release an autobiography titled "On the Move" this spring. 

Read Sacks' full essay here. 

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