He learned in December that a painful hip fracture was actually the result of cancer. As he undergoes radiation treatment, he is taking a "leave of presence."
"It means I am not going away," Ebert explained. "My intent is to continue to write selected reviews but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers handpicked and greatly admired by me. 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 70-year-old writer was first diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2002. Cancerous growths were also found on his salivary glands a year later. Surgeries to combat the disease left him without the ability to speak.
Ebert first began writing for the Sun-Times 46 years ago today, April 3, and became the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1975. His writing, as well as the movie review TV show he once hosted with the late Gene Siskel, have made him a cultural icon.
Despite the recurrence of cancer, Ebert plans on writing for the newspaper and his own site for some time. He'll be relaunching RogerEbert.com and running it with his wife of 20 years, Chaz.
"It really stinks that the cancer has returned and that I have spent too many days in the hospital. So on bad days I may write about the vulnerability that accompanies illness," he wrote. "On good days, I may wax ecstatic about a movie so good it transports me beyond illness."