Christopher Hitchens Has Cancer

Christopher Hitchens has esophageal cancer.

Hitch has what John Wayne dubbed the Big C:

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.”)

I wish him success in his treatment and hope he’s quickly back to his craft.  I look forward to his column, sure to be scathing toward his subject, about a brilliant writer who stupidly put his life at risk by intentionally inhaling a known carcinogen.

UPDATE: He pens a short notice at Vanity Fair:

I have been advised by my physician that I must undergo a course of chemotherapy on my esophagus. This advice seems persuasive to me. I regret having had to cancel so many engagements at such short notice.

Classically succinct.

UPDATE IITom Maguire wins Headline of the Day honors for “Say A Prayer For Hitch.”

FILED UNDER: Health, Quick Takes,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Franklin says:

    who stupidly put his life at risk by intentionally inhaling a known carcinogen

    True but harsh. Weren’t you just dismissing some side effect of coffee a week ago because it was worth it? It’s all risk vs. reward (although Hitchens’ risk was admittedly pretty significant!).

  2. James Joyner says:

    True but harsh.

    Hitch lives for that!

    Weren’t you just dismissing some side effect of coffee a week ago because it was worth it? It’s all risk vs. reward (although Hitchens’ risk was admittedly pretty significant!).

    Sure, although the risk from smoking is terribly high and well documented whereas coffee has all manner of health benefits, as well as some possible risks. Granted, short-term pleasure has to count for something when weighted against long term risk.

  3. Thomas Carr says:

    When they mention the esophagus, I do not think of smoking, but GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) which can cause erosion and evential cancer of the esophagus.

    I lost a friend to it a couple years ago (non-smoker) and I am taking medicine to reduce the number of incidents of waking up with a mouth full of stomach acid. Part of the correction is to take the medicine. The other part is not eat for 5-6 hours before going to bed.

  4. reid says:

    I agree with Thomas. Smoking may have been a factor, but the diet and drinking were probably bigger contributors to this C.

  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    Pet peeve of mine: blaming sick people for getting sick.

    The death rate remains 100%. We all die. (I’m not writing Hitch off.) While alive we do some things that have a marginal effect on the length of our lives, but there is rarely a direct, clear, cause and effect relationship. Yes, smoking is one of those where the relationship is clear. Overeating less clear. Drinking, who knows, unless it’s cirrhosis.

    But driving a car also shortens lives. Accidents of all types is one of the leading causes of death. The cure? never get out of bed. In fact, if you want to live a long, long time, never leave your home, spend your day on a stationary bike and eat nothing but organic vegetables. The only problem with that kind of cringing, joyless approach to life is that suicide is also a major killer.

    The same thing kills us all: life.

  6. G.A.Phillips says:

    I will pray for him.

  7. Crusty Dem says:

    Actually, one potent risk factor for esophageal cancer is drinking very hot liquids (blazing hot tea or coffee). If true, it’s sad that he stupidly put his life at risk by intentionally drinking hot tea. Doesn’t have quite the punch, I admit..

  8. Michael Powell says:

    Addiction is a bitch. I’ve been drinking soda and coffee for years as a result of growing up in Seattle. I think the fact that he even put a whole effort into quitting is quite admirable. Hitchens is the best intellectual in America, or globally for that matter. I hope he gets better.