RESTRICTED: Roger Ebert 'i Can Only Be Grateful'
Roger Ebert, 65, survived salivary gland cancer in 2006, but three reconstructive surgeries have failed to restore his ability to speak. Unable to appear on camera, he’s busy behind the scenes on Ebert & Roeper—and tells PEOPLE (via e-mail) he’s living a full life.
I recently attended my first movie screening since surgery, so I’m ramping up into a full work schedule again, reviewing movies for the Chicago Sun-Times and making preparations for the Ebertfest film festival I host every spring. I’m grateful that I have a job I love and can perform with utter disregard for my disabilities.
That surgery in January was a triple whammy. I was hoping it would restore my ability to speak, but there were complications, so another surgery is required. For now I just want to enjoy the abundance in my life and think of surgery later. The surgery itself isn’t so bad; it’s the recuperation that’s dodgy. I was in intensive care for six weeks, and my muscles weakened. I had to learn how to walk again. Earlier this month I fell and fractured my hip, and I’m back in rehab. What next? I’m happy to report I am cancer-free and again able to watch movies, type, smile and give a thumbs-up. The Internet has revolutionized my trade. Instead of pounding on a typewriter at the Sun-Times office, I do my writing enthroned in a La-Z-Boy recliner at home.
As I survey my life, I can only be grateful. I get love and support from my wife, Chaz, our family and friends. Last night we had company: Will Siskel, Gene’s 13-year-old son, came with his mom and sister. The boy was the spitting image of his old man. I told him, “Forget about the legends of our feuds. Your dad was one of my best friends.” We had a lot of great times on the TV program. I miss the show. But to everything there is a season.