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Roger Ebert takes 'leave of presence' to battle cancer

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CHICAGO -- Acclaimed film critic Roger Ebert said he's been diagnosed with cancer again and that he will scale back his prolific writing of movie reviews while undergoing radiation treatment.

In a blog post, the 70-year-old said he'll take a "leave of presence."

"I am not going away," the ailing Pulitzer Prize winner wrote in a note posted late Tuesday at http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2013/04/. "My intent is to continue to write selected reviews but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers. ... What's more, I'll be able at last to do what I've always fantasized about doing: reviewing only the movies I want to review."

The veteran critic battled cancer in his thyroid and salivary glands and lost the ability to speak and eat during previous surgery, which also left him with a facial disfigurement.

Ebert said the cancer recurrence was discovered after a "painful fracture" that made it difficult for him to walk. He hospitalized late last year with a hip fracture.

"It really stinks that the cancer has returned and that I have spent too many days in the hospital," he wrote.

In addition to the select movie reviews he'll write, Ebert said he also plans to spend time writing about his own illness.

"I may write about what it's like to cope with health challenges and the limitations they can force upon you," he said. "So on bad days I may write about the vulnerability that accompanies illness. On good days, I may wax ecstatic about a movie so good it transports me beyond illness."

He also said he plans to relaunch his website and roll out several other projects later this year.

Ebert began reviewing films for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1967. He was the nation's foremost movie critic on television on shows such as Sneak Previews and At the Movies.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 4, 2013 ??65518

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