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Ebert says he wants to get back to work

The film critic is still battling cancer, but says his doctors are ‘optimistic’ about a recovery.

Film critic Roger Ebert, who is battling cancer in a Chicago hospital, says he looks forward to coming back to work despite a hard road to recovery that has kept him hospitalized for two months.

“I don’t have a crystal ball, so I can’t tell you when, but I sure look forward to being back on the movie beat,” he said in a statement Thursday.

Ebert, famous for his “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” critiques, had surgery June 16 to remove a cancerous growth on his salivary gland. He also had emergency surgery July 1 after a blood vessel burst near the site of the operation.

“When I announced that I had a recurrence of salivary cancer that required surgery, I had no idea when I went into the hospital on June 16 that I would still be here on August 16,” Ebert said.

The 64-year-old had undergone cancer surgery three times before the June operation — once in 2002 to remove a malignant tumor on his thyroid gland and twice on his salivary gland the next year.

Ebert said in the statement his voice has been affected by the cancer treatment and part of his overall rehabilitation will include having to strengthen his vocal cords. He added that “doctors are moving cautiously, but they are enthusiastically optimistic about my recovery.”

Ebert has been a film critic at the Chicago Sun-Times since 1967. He won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 1975, the same year he teamed up with Gene Siskel of the rival Chicago Tribune to launch their movie-review show. Siskel died in 1999. Ebert has co-hosted the show with fellow Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper since 2000.