Famed Writer Dying of Liver Cancer

Writer and neurologist Oliver Sacks confirms he has terminal cancer of the liver.

Writer and neurologist Oliver Sacks confirms he has terminal cancer of the liver.

An opinion piece in the New York Times by writer/neurologist Oliver Sacks confirms he has terminal cancer of the liver. As Dr Sacks states in the article, “Nine years ago it was discovered that I had a rare tumor of the eye, an ocular melanoma. Although the radiation and lasering to remove the tumor ultimately left me blind in that eye, only in very rare cases do such tumors metastasize. I am among the unlucky 2 percent.”

The metastasized tumor now occupies a third of his liver and it cannot be stopped. In other words, Dr. Sacks knows he is dying. However, the article is surprisingly uplifting and one of the more interesting aspects of the article is that Dr. Sacks talks about being somewhat detached from the reality of it all and he refers to philosopher David Hume who wrote about dying back in 1776 in his essay “My Own Life.” Hume wrote “It is difficult to be more detached from life than I am at present.”

In that regard, Dr. Sacks added, “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.”

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Image of Oliver Sacks by Maria Popova [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons has been edited for space.