Oliver Sacks On Learning He Has Terminal Cancer - NYTimes.com

NEW YORK - JUNE 3:  Neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks speaks at Columbia University June 3, 2009 in New York City. Dr. Sacks, who was appointed Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center in 2007, is the author of several bestselling books. His 1973 book 'Awakenings' was adapted into the Academy Award-nominated film of the same name starring Robert De Niro and Robin Williams and his latest book is 'Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain'.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JUNE 3: Neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks speaks at Columbia University June 3, 2009 in New York City. Dr. Sacks, who was appointed Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center in 2007, is the author of several bestselling books. His 1973 book 'Awakenings' was adapted into the Academy Award-nominated film of the same name starring Robert De Niro and Robin Williams and his latest book is 'Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain'. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

A MONTH ago, I felt that I was in good health, even robust health. At 81, I still swim a mile a day. But my luck has run out — a few weeks ago I learned that I have multiple metastases in the liver. Nine years ago it was discovered that I had a rare tumor of the eye, an ocular melanoma. Although the radiation and lasering to remove the tumor ultimately left me blind in that eye, only in very rare cases do such tumors metastasize. I am among the unlucky 2 percent.

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. The cancer occupies a third of my liver, and though its advance may be slowed, this particular sort of cancer cannot be halted.