The Awakenings author declares he has "no time for anything inessential" in an inspirational essay revealing his diagnosis
Credit: Henry S. Dziekan III/Getty

With a determination to live his final days “in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can,” noted neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks revealed his terminal cancer diagnosis Thursday in an inspirational New York Times essay.

“I feel intensely alive,” he wrote after sharing that cancer inhabits a third of his liver. “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.”

The British-born Sacks, 81, became known to millions after Robin Williams portrayed him in the 1990 movie Awakenings, based on his book detailing encephalitic lethargica patients who “woke up” after decades of sleep after Sacks realized the benefits of the L-Dopa drug.

The New York Times once called him the “poet laureate of medicine,” a man with a unique ability to emotionally express the triumphs and suffering of his patients.

On Thursday, the longtime New Yorker turned his lens inward in the gripping essay, giving readers his assessment of his temperament and avoiding a saccharine farewell as he reflected on how best to live out his remaining days.

“I am a man of vehement disposition, with violent enthusiasms, and extreme immoderation in all my passions,” wrote Sacks, who published five books, plus a memoir, On the Move, to be released this May.

Declaring he is “not finished with life,” Sacks also wrote that “there is no time for anything inessential.”

Trepidation, he admitted, exists as well.

“I cannot pretend I am without fear,” he wrote. “But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.”

Sack’s words quickly resonated on social media, with celebrities including Olivia Wilde and Josh Groban Tweeting words of praise for the famed physician.

“May we all live our lives as @OliverSacks is choosing to finish his.” Wilde Tweeted.

“Send love towards @OliverSacks & honor him by living your best life each day. What gifts you have given us, sir.” Groban wrote.