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Roger Ebert says he had no warning that he would be left unable to speak after losing his lower jaw to thyroid and salivary gland cancer.
“There was never a time when anyone told me I’d never be able to speak again,” the movie critic told Today’s Natalie Morales. “Naturally, I felt awful, but I had to accept reality.”
Ebert now talks with the aid of a computer; he types what he wants to say, and a digital voice reads the text. But that’s the not only way his life has changed.
“I was always extroverted,” he said. “Now I am forced to live more within my mind.”
Still, Ebert has been able to continue doing what he loves. He still travels to film festival, attends at least five screenings a week and still writes reviews as well as a blog for his longtime employer, the Chicago Sun-Times. He also produces the show Ebert Presents: At the Movies with wife Chaz and has a new memoir, Life Itself, out this week.
Ebert became a household name thanks to his long-running movie-review show with Gene Siskel, Siskel & Ebert and the Movies. Siskel died in 1999, three years before Ebert was diagnosed with cancer.
Asked what Siskel might say if he were still alive, Ebert replied: “He would have been wholehearted in my corner through these troubles. Although we argued almost as a way of live, we shared a deep understanding of one another. He would also have continued to make jokes about me. ‘Well, at least you don’t need a bookmark anymore to find your chin.'”
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