World famous film critic Roger Ebert, unable to speak, drink or eat due to complications from thyroid cancer, cheerfully told Oprah Winfrey today that "my life is happy."
Even so, Ebert says he won't have anymore surgeries to correct his facial deformities.
"That's right, no more surgery for me," said Ebert. "I'm not going to talk or eat or drink again so the surgery would be to patch my face back together, and I don't want to go through that."
"This is the way I look and my life is happy and productive so why have any more surgery," he said.
"Nobody looks perfect, we have to find peace with the way we look and get on with life."
In a journal entry read by Chaz, his wife of 18 years, Ebert maintains his optimism despite his harrowing battle with cancer.
"I believe at the end of it all, if we have done something to make others a little happier and ourselves a little happier that is about the best we can do," wrote Ebert, moving his wife to tears as she read. "To make others less happy is a crime, to make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts."
"We should try to contribute joy to our world. That is true. No matter what our health circumstances are we should try," he said. "I didn't always know this, but I'm happy I lived long enough to find out."
Ebert told Winfrey that after eight years of cancer and the last four years without a voice or the ability to eat or drink, he is now cancer-free and feeling "terrific."
Asked by Winfrey if he remembers the last words he spoke out loud, Ebert says he does not.
"No, I don't because I didn't realize at the time that they were going to be my last words," said Ebert, through his computer. "I probably spoke them to Chaz as they wheeled me to the operating room and they were probably 'I love you.'"
"At least I hope those were my last words," he said, smiling. "They could have been 'good morning, doctor.'"
Ebert communicates through sign language and also through computer software that acts as his voice. Ebert will type in phrases he wants to speak and a generic computerized voice will read them aloud.
Chaz has stood by her husband's side throughout his tortuous battle with cancer. And while Chaz and Ebert do most things together -- they screen as many as four movies a day -- one thing they don't do together is eat.
"It seems kind of cruel, because he can no longer eat," Chaz told Winfrey in a tour of the the Chicago home she shares with Ebert.
Ebert eats four times a day through a feeding tube that connects to a port in his stomach.
But he has vivid memories of some of his favorite treats. Recurring dreams remind Ebert of his childhood love for A&W root beer that he used to get with his father, Ebert told Winfrey.
Chaz, speaking on behalf of Ebert, said that sometimes he asks her to eat the food he misses the most so that he can live vicariously through her. She also said that he misses the camaraderie of sharing a meal with someone as much as he misses the actual food and drink.