Roger Ebert's View on Losing His Voice

Ebert says he's "not bitter" about the surgeries that left him unable to speak.

ByABC News
February 17, 2010, 7:39 PM

Feb. 18, 2010— -- Two years after a battle with thyroid cancer robbed him of the ability to speak, film critic Roger Ebert is showing the world how the unexpected twist in his life story only strengthened his voice.

"I'd always heard how blind people developed much better hearing, and deaf people became more observant. It's true," Ebert wrote in an e-mail interview with

"When you lose something, your body and mind adapt to compensate. In my case, whatever energy I put into speaking has now been channeled into writing, and my writing has benefitted," he said.

Indeed, fans haven't stopped following the man whose thumbs alone could influence thousands, if not millions, of moviegoers at a time on the television shows he co-hosted with Gene Siskel for a total of 23 years.

Ebert has started to open up to the public about his life post-surgery in his journal at the Chicago Sun Times. An in-depth interview with Esquire magazine this month also chronicled Ebert's life since he lost the ability to eat, drink and speak.

"There wasn't some soul-dropping moment for that realization. It just ... developed. I never felt hungry, I never felt thirsty, I wasn't angry because the doctors had done their best. But I went through a period of obsession about food and drink," Ebert wrote in a January entry to his online journal, where he went on to describe a vivid memory of drinking root beer. Ebert now uses a feeding tube for nourishment.

"Let me return to the original question: Isn't it sad to be unable eat or drink? Not as sad as you might imagine. I save an enormous amount of time. I have control of my weight. Everything agrees with me. And so on," he wrote.

But Ebert admitted he missed "the society" of talking with people over lunch and dinner.

Ebert says neither he nor his doctors expected him to lose his voice when he first was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2002.