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Article updated: 4/3/2013 3:34 PM

Ebert: Cancer forcing a 'leave of presence'

By Sean Stangland

Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert announced on his blog Tuesday night that his latest battle against cancer will force him to take what he calls a "leave of presence."

Ebert, 70, was hospitalized in December with a fractured hip, but he wrote Tuesday that the injury "has recently been revealed to be a cancer." Ebert was first diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2002. He had surgery in 2006 to remove cancerous tissue near his jaw, resulting in the removal of part of his jaw bone. He has been unable to speak since, but he continued to write film reviews and blog entries for the Sun-Times.

The cancer "is being treated with radiation, which has made it impossible for me to attend as many movies as I used to," Ebert wrote Tuesday. Richard Roeper and other critics have been writing the bulk of the Sun-Times' film reviews since December and will continue to do so. Ebert says he will review only the movies he wants to, thanks to screener copies provided by film studios.

"I must slow down now, which is why I'm taking what I like to call 'a leave of presence,'" Ebert wrote Tuesday. "It means I am not going away."

Though he is scaling back his film reviews, Ebert says he may write about his health challenges, and adds that a new version of his website will launch April 9. The 15th edition of Ebert's annual film festival is scheduled to take place April 17-21 in Champaign.

Ebert closed his blog entry with a message of thanks.

"So on this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I'll see you at the movies."

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