Ever wonder what happened to Roger Ebert?

Ever wonder what happened to Roger Ebert, who has been absent from the balcony in his Ebert & Roeper Show for quite some time battling cancer?

So did I. I always liked his style and mostly agreed with his movie reviews, but since moving away from Chicago I haven’t heard much or watched the show as much, given that it never seems to be on when I’m around to watch TV. Well, wonder no more:

My Ninth Annual Overlooked Film Festival opens Wednesday night at the University of Illinois at Urbana, and Chaz and I will be in attendance.

This year I won’t be speaking, however, as I await another surgery.

I have received a lot of advice that I should not attend the festival. I’m told that paparazzi will take unflattering pictures, people will be unkind, etc.

Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. As a journalist I can take it as well as dish it out.

So let’s talk turkey. What will I look like? To paraphrase a line from “Raging Bull,” I ain’t a pretty boy no more. (Not that I ever was. The original appeal of “Siskel & Ebert” was that we didn’t look like we belonged on TV.)

What happened was, cancer of the salivary gland spread to my right lower jaw. A segment of the mandible was removed. Two operations to replace the missing segment were unsuccessful, both leading to unanticipated bleeding.

A tracheostomy was necessary so, for the time being, I cannot speak.

I like his attitude–good and feisty:

I was told photos of me in this condition would attract the gossip papers. So what?

I have been very sick, am getting better and this is how it looks. I still have my brain and my typing fingers.

[…]

We spend too much time hiding illness. There is an assumption that I must always look the same. I hope to look better than I look now. But I’m not going to miss my festival.

It sounds as though he had a particularly nasty cancer of the salivary gland. By definition, because the tumor invaded his jaw, Roger Ebert has stage IVA or IVB cancer. Here’s hoping he manages to beat the odds.