Christopher Hitchens: On The Topic Of Cancer

Christopher HitchensHitch describes his coming to terms with cancer, in Vanity Fair:

I have more than once in my time woken up feeling like death. But nothing prepared me for the early morning last June when I came to consciousness feeling as if I were actually shackled to my own corpse. The whole cave of my chest and thorax seemed to have been hollowed out and then refilled with slow-drying cement. I could faintly hear myself breathe but could not manage to inflate my lungs. My heart was beating either much too much or much too little. Any movement, however slight, required forethought and planning. It took strenuous effort for me to cross the room of my New York hotel and summon the emergency services. They arrived with great dispatch and behaved with immense courtesy and professionalism. I had the time to wonder why they needed so many boots and helmets and so much heavy backup equipment, but now that I view the scene in retrospect I see it as a very gentle and firm deportation, taking me from the country of the well across the stark frontier that marks off the land of malady. Within a few hours, having had to do quite a lot of emergency work on my heart and my lungs, the physicians at this sad border post had shown me a few other postcards from the interior and told me that my immediate next stop would have to be with an oncologist. Some kind of shadow was throwing itself across the negatives.

The previous evening, I had been launching my latest book at a successful event in New Haven. The night of the terrible morning, I was supposed to go on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and then appear at a sold-out event at the 92nd Street Y, on the Upper East Side, in conversation with Salman Rushdie. My very short-lived campaign of denial took this form: I would not cancel these appearances or let down my friends or miss the chance of selling a stack of books. I managed to pull off both gigs without anyone noticing anything amiss, though I did vomit two times, with an extraordinary combination of accuracy, neatness, violence, and profusion, just before each show. This is what citizens of the sick country do while they are still hopelessly clinging to their old domicile…

[continues in Vanity Fair]

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  • Your Mom

    Good article, but why didn't Disinfo post Hitchens's recent article on how Hugo Chavez exhumed the corpse of Simon Bolivar?

    • dumbsaint

      I can't see how that's relevant. It's probably because no one (such as yourself) bothered to submit the article to them, comrade.

    • Connie Dobbs

      Disinfo is user driven. No one gives a shit about Hugo Chavez outside of the comedy value.

    • Haystack

      You strike me as the sort of guy who would visit a vegetarian restaurant and complain that they don't serve steak.

  • A Bad Joke

    Can't wait for the nut who thinks cancer is caused by a virus to see this.

  • tonyviner

    Maybe he should have prayed.

  • Hadrian999

    so glad he didn't pull an Ann Rice or Oscar Wilde

  • PATRICIAJUDGE

    DEAR MR CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS
    THE NEWS OF THIS “ALIEN” HAS COME LIKE SOME SHOCK-WAVES!!!
    MY GOODNESS NOT GIVEN A CHANCE TO SEE 100 YEAR’S- SO WE CAN READ MORE OF YOUR OUTSTANDING,ELOQUENT,STUNNING BOOKS???????
    GOD WANT’S YOU UP THERE AMONG THE STAR’S -EH!!
    TO WRITE THE THINGS YOU HAVE ABOUT GOD!!!-GET WHAT I MEAN MR C H.!!!!
    THAT WAS MY KIND OF WIT!!!!!
    HOWEVER, PEACE TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.
    A HORRENDOUS JOURNEY HAS BEGUN.
    YOURS SINCERLEY,
    MRS, PATRICIA JUDGE.(1949GIRL).

  • PATRICIAJUDGE

    DEAR MR CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS
    THE NEWS OF THIS “ALIEN” HAS COME LIKE SOME SHOCK-WAVES!!!
    MY GOODNESS NOT GIVEN A CHANCE TO SEE 100 YEAR'S- SO WE CAN READ MORE OF YOUR OUTSTANDING,ELOQUENT,STUNNING BOOKS???????
    GOD WANT'S YOU UP THERE AMONG THE STAR'S -EH!!
    TO WRITE THE THINGS YOU HAVE ABOUT GOD!!!-GET WHAT I MEAN MR C H.!!!!
    THAT WAS MY KIND OF WIT!!!!!
    HOWEVER, PEACE TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.
    A HORRENDOUS JOURNEY HAS BEGUN.
    YOURS SINCERLEY,
    MRS, PATRICIA JUDGE.(1949GIRL).