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Christopher Hitchens diagnosed with cancer, cuts short his book tour

Christopher Hitchens, May 17, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Marvin Joseph /TWP)

Christopher Hitchens is being treated for cancer, forcing the D.C. writer to cut short his latest book tour. In a statement released through his publisher Twelve, the British-born provocateur, 61, said that he has "been advised by my physician that I must undergo a course of chemotherapy on my esophagus. This advice seems persuasive to me." The notorious chainsmoker announced in 2008 he had given up tobacco -- driven, he said, by "fear." (His wife Carol Blue told us then he "wants to live -- live to see his political enemies defeated.") But he was still sneaking a smoke or two when our colleague Manuel Roig-Franzia interviewed him last month.

By The Reliable Source  |  June 30, 2010; 4:09 PM ET
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I wish Mr. Hitchens the best in his treatment and recovery. I do think that more space should be given to the fact that he has been a chain smoker and the type of cancer he has -- obviously, related to the smoking.

He is a terrific writer and hope he will give us some updates as he receives treatment.
His spunk is in tact as noted by his wife that he wants to live "to see his political enemies defeated."

Posted by: pjcafe | June 30, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to hear this. My father had this illness although he never smoked.

Posted by: swissmiss150 | June 30, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

I wish Mr. Hitchens the best in his treatment and recovery. I do think that more space should be given to the fact that he has been a chain smoker and the type of cancer he has -- obviously, related to the smoking.

He is a terrific writer and hope he will give us some updates as he receives treatment.
His spunk is in tact as noted by his wife that he wants to live "to see his political enemies defeated."

Posted by: pjcafe | June 30, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

best wishes and a healthy and permanent recovery to mr. hitchens.

Posted by: frieda406 | June 30, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Hitchens, many like me will be wishing you the best and hoping you feel encouraged. And I'd bet still others will be praying for you. Hope and courage to you.

Posted by: firethief | June 30, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Best wishes for a full recovery to this very talented writer.

Posted by: dbunkr | June 30, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Get well - recover soon and completely, Christopher. We need you more than you could possibly imagine. You are the best.

Posted by: bluerainbow96 | June 30, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Best wishes on your journey through cancer treatment, Mr. Hitchens. It's a tough road, but you have always struck me as a tough guy! I have long enjoyed your writing...even though I haven't always shared your opinions.

Posted by: KatieAtl | June 30, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

From a cancer survivor to a cancer victum, do not let it scare you to death. Just take it as another story to be written and since nobody gets out of here alive anyway, the ending is all yours. Pulling for you all the way.

Posted by: anOPINIONATEDsob | June 30, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

If James Randi can kick cancer into a cringing ball of remission the you can too! Take care of yourself Mr. Hitchens. There is plenty of time to fight the enemy but you have to be around and healthy to do it.

Posted by: Maria_Myrback | June 30, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Get well, and get well soon. You're a national treasure.

Posted by: TaliesinTheHistorian | June 30, 2010 7:32 PM | Report abuse

I admire you greatly, Mr.Hitchens. As a former Englishwoman to now an American citizen and our strong beliefs, we share many of life ideals. I, also, have cancer and I want you to know I know you will have the best doctors and treatment. I will be selfish and say I need you around for many more years to come. You have kept me sane with all your writings, debates and discussions, so you, sir, please continue to let us view your intellignt insights every now and then.
Take Care

Posted by: TrillianAlice | June 30, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Regardless of our differing perspectives on almost everything, I wish him the best in this battle.

This is a terrible disease which ravaged and claimed my husband's best friend 7 years ago. He too could not give up smoking.

Posted by: alilyinthevalley | June 30, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Hitchens:
You have cancer,it doesn't have you.
Think positively and remain remain resolute.
I beat it six years ago. It's your turn
Best wishes, Frank Guzman.

Posted by: fdguzman807 | June 30, 2010 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Yes, a lot of his popularity is found in his ability to sound smooth and erudite in interviews. A raspy, weak voice that has been damaged by cancer of the esophagus will not permit him to look attractive and intelligent in verbal combat. And everyone knows that in order to make any real money as a writer, you have to sell your books on television and radio.

Worst of all, we're losing a wonderfully funny clown and complete imbecile of the airwaves. We must all pull our punches on Hitch. I think now I might like to own an autographed copy of his biography as his cancer will soon enough make it a special keepsake.

Posted by: blasmaic | June 30, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

That's two terrible posts from lingering_lead and blasmaic. Do you realize lingering that if God made it all then he also made diseases and you might one day have it too? This is not good design.

Posted by: Hirnlego | June 30, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

I am very sorry he will have such a suffering as chemotherapy on his esophagus. I hope he will use his own suffering to guide children away from smoking. I still remember Yule Brenner's commercials near the end of his life. I hope he gets better soon and wish his family strength and comfort during the difficult time ahead.

Posted by: maddymappo | June 30, 2010 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Typical of the Christian Taliban to say someone is being punished for not joining their flock of sheep.

I once asked a "born again" woman that if I were to live a good life, following the 10 Commandments, doing charitable work, etc., wouldn't that be good enough for God? Isn't that kind of the goal of all of this?

Her answer was no. I had to join the right church first. I think I'll take my chances with the good deeds, basically what used to be called "being a good Christian". Nowadays that seems to include hate speech directed towards non-believers and a never ending effort to codify their loosely connected to the Bible beliefs in statute. I'll pass on that part.

Posted by: BurtReynolds | June 30, 2010 9:12 PM | Report abuse

I am sorry to hear this. Although I have always believed Mr Hitchens to be a pompous ass, I wish him a speedy recovery.

Posted by: luliss27 | June 30, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

The chemo is surely a prelude to surgery, if he has cancer of the esophagus. This is a tough road, but one from which he can recover. I know two people who did (one a smoker and one not). Best wishes to this feisty guy.

Posted by: JustSayin7 | June 30, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Now is your chance Mr. Hitchins; call on Him. Dare Him to show you His power.

Posted by: tigner12 | June 30, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

This world is better because Christopher Hitchens has been in it.

Posted by: joeshoe | June 30, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Well...this proves that God has a sense of humor. Looks like Divine Retribution to me.

Posted by: czer2006 | June 30, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Divine retribution? So I suppose all those children with cancer have done heinous wrongs. Everyone gets cancer; it strikes believer and rationalist alike. But how charitable and loving of you to make his illness some petty chess piece of your ideological war. It makes your soul look like a smoker's lung.

Posted by: Fizziks | June 30, 2010 10:58 PM | Report abuse

> God has a sense of humor.
> Looks like Divine Retribution to me.

@czer2006, my friends with the condition were weekly churchgoers.

Posted by: lesfab29 | July 1, 2010 12:08 AM | Report abuse

Let's hope that more at-risk Americans get timely and periodic esophageal endoscopies, which can identify stages long preliminary to this cancer.

Posted by: lsm47 | July 1, 2010 2:44 AM | Report abuse

Not a fan of Hitchens' politics, but oesophageal cancer is beatable. I have a friend who had it seven years ago and after surgery he's alive and kicking, and can still drink me under the table much as before.

Posted by: TheMongKey | July 1, 2010 6:05 AM | Report abuse

"Follow Him."

Some of you are demented.

Posted by: Hirnlego | July 1, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

I wish you the best in your fight against cancer, Christopher Hitchens. Chemo is tough, but it couldn't hurt to know that even total strangers are rooting for ya.

Posted by: ceej | July 1, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

My sincere wishes for a recovery from this horrible disease. Chronic acid reflux can also cause this cancer as well as excessive alcohol consumption. I don't always agree with Mr. Hitchins, but have always appreciated his wit and writing ability. God Bless.

Posted by: somberjules | July 1, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Wishing best and a fast recovery.

Posted by: deinefreunde | July 1, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I think its terrible I see some comments from people now using this man's health issues as leverage to argue for the existence of God. Just because everyone alike needs comfort and support during time like this, does not mean we should be inventing imaginary friends for that purpose. That being said : God bless Christopher Hitchens. Wishing you speedy recovery and many more years.

Posted by: DigitalAcetone | July 1, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

It's stupid that anyone would use this to argue "divine retribution". People get sick and die no matter whether they believe in God or not, and the Bible agrees.

I believe in God and will pray for Christopher Hitchens, not out of some self-serving wish to convert him, but simply hoping that he will make it through the chemo and get healthy again soon. I hope he will find some value in goodwill being sent his way.

Posted by: ceej | July 1, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

somberjules | July 1, 2010 10:31 AM

Somberjules is right about chronic acid reflux or GERD as a risk factor for this. The esophagus often has an intermediate state before cancer. This can be detected. However, its best to stop before you get Barrett's Syndrome.

Posted by: OldAtlantic | July 1, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

If you are struggling with GERD or smoking and can stop for several weeks or even months that can give your esophagus a chance to heal.

Posted by: OldAtlantic | July 1, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

@Hirnlego, sorry if I was not being clear.

I was responding to someone who was claiming to follow Jesus and yet did not subscribe to his primary teaching: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Posted by: lesfab29 | July 1, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Waving BYE-BYE to ya Hitch.

Posted by: williewonka111 | July 1, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

The scattered tasteless and hateful comments included here are just a small sample of the torrent of disgusting, schadenfreude-filled ill wishes we can expect to see from the "god-is-love" crowd over the next few weeks. The sheer glee I'm expecting from them in response to this man's suffering, while not surprising, will definitely be spectacular.

Does religion naturally attract such hateful hypocrites? Or is it just what they become once they convert?

Best wishes for a speedy recovery, Mr. Hitchens.

Posted by: StudioTodd | July 1, 2010 11:15 PM | Report abuse

If anyone reading this knows Hitchens or a friend of his, I hope they can get him to go to Dr. Jim Luketich, one of the best doctors for esophageal cancer, at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Posted by: rjsherbill | July 2, 2010 12:01 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry to hear about your illness, Mr. Hitchens. I read you in Vanity Fair and always catch you on Maher and any other show you are on. I loved "God is not Great". I have already downloaded "Hitch 22", though I haven't read it yet. I know people who have survived this disease, but it is a bitch. I am an atheist, so I won"t be praying, but my thoughts are with you and your family. Good luck.

Posted by: jfolkesg | July 2, 2010 1:19 AM | Report abuse

auguri hitch

Posted by: stefanopistolini | July 2, 2010 7:03 AM | Report abuse

I assure you, Hitchens won't be making any kowtows to the imaginary daddy-in-the-sky, he won't change a bit of his philosophy, and he'll remain rational and logical all the way through this battle with so-called "intelligent design." Yes, smoking was a bad decision, but there's a rather powerful weapon available that served me well. It's called Medical Science, and it works without incantations, pleading, burnt offerings, or magic. Chris will be back in harness and battling superstition once again, in his usual way, and the kindly woo-woos out there who are anticipating his defeat will suggest that their prayers did it. Chris, keep kicking ass...!

Posted by: JamesRandi | July 2, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

All the very best Mr Hitchens. Beat this thing! I've lost track of the number of times i've watched your debates on youtube. Whenever you speak, whatever the topic might be, your honesty and integrity always came thru load and clear. I can only hope there were more people in public life like yourself. I don't usually comment online on news about something that is obviously a very personal thing, but i just felt compelled to write something. Here's hoping for a speedy recovery.

Posted by: fromsfo | July 3, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Heavy alcohol consumption plus chain-smoking is a deadly combination and Hitchens is famous for both. While I am not a fan of some of his positions, he is an elegant writer, a strong debater and displays an intellectual honesty that I have always appreciated. I wish him good luck in his fight.

Posted by: inmypajamas | July 4, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

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