Renowned Neurologist Oliver Sacks Announces He Has Terminal Cancer

Sacks announced that he was originally diagnosed with cancer nine years ago.

February 19, 2015, 4:11 PM

— -- Renowned neurologist and author of "Awakenings" Oliver Sacks announced today that he has terminal cancer.

Sacks, a professor of neurology at New York University School of Medicine, said in a New York Times article that cancer had been found in his liver nine years after he was first diagnosed with a rare ocular tumor.

The doctor wrote that the initial treatment for the tumor in his eye left him partially blind and noted that most tumors of this kind do not metastasize.

"I am among the unlucky 2 percent," he wrote for the New York Times. "I feel grateful that I have been granted nine years of good health and productivity since the original diagnosis, but now I am face to face with dying."

Sacks, 81, is best known for his writing on neurological case histories including "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" and an "An Anthropologist on Mars." His book "Awakenings," based on his work in the 1960s with patients who were unable to initiate movement, was turned into an Oscar-nominated movie of the same name starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro.

Sacks, whose biography will be released this spring, wrote that he feels "intensely alive" after his diagnosis.

"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," he wrote. "This does not mean I am finished with life."

While the famed doctor plans to give up following "politics or arguments about global warming," he said he feels the world is being left in good hands.

"I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude," he wrote. "Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure."

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