Roger Ebert, America's Movie Critic, Dead at 70 After Battle With Cancer

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Roger Ebert's Battle with Cancer

Ebert's first bout with cancer began in 2002, when he was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer. Though doctors successfully removed the cancer in 2003, he later underwent surgery for cancer in his salivary gland. The four-week radiation treatment that followed that surgery altered his voice slightly.

More surgery came in 2006 at age 64. That procedure removed additional cancerous tissue near his right jaw, which included removing a section of jaw bone. The result left Ebert unable to speak, eat or drink. He later admitted to fans that he was forced to use a feeding tube.

"In earlier years I would have found this idea horrifying," he wrote in his journal for the Chicago Sun-Times. "Not so much now that I need it to stay alive."

RELATED: Roger Ebert's Candidness With Cancer a 'Role Model' for Other Patients

Though he lost his voice in a 2006 surgery, Ebert continued to be a prolific writer. His film column still appeared regularly in The Chicago Sun-Times and his reviews were syndicated in more than 200 newspapers worldwide. He also presided over a blog, rogerebert.com, which was packed daily with news, reviews and attracted a large following.

After a series of surgeries and painful recovery, in 2010 Ebert mused about death, writing, in part, "I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear."

He added, "What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, and laughter. You can't say it wasn't interesting."

Ebert is survived by his wife, Chaz, who today remembered him as "a beloved husband, stepfather to Sonia and Jay, and grandfather to Raven, Emil, Mark and Joseph.

"Just yesterday," she wrote in her statement to ABC News, "he was saying how his grandchildren were 'the best things in my life.' He was happy and radiating satisfaction over the outpouring of responses to his blog about his 46th year as a film critic. But he was also getting tired of his fight with cancer, and said if this takes him, he has lived a great and full life.

"I am devastated by the loss of my love, Roger -- my husband, my friend, my confidante and oh-so-brilliant partner of over 20 years," she said. "He fought a courageous fight. I've lost the love of my life and the world has lost a visionary and a creative and generous spirit who touched so many people all over the world. We had a lovely, lovely life together, more beautiful and epic than a movie. It had its highs and the lows, but was always experienced with good humor, grace and a deep abiding love for each other."

In his memoir, Ebert wrote of the deep love of his marriage.

"She continues to make my life possible, and her presence fills me with love and a deep security," he wrote in the book. "That's what a marriage is for. Now I know."

ABC News' Michael S. James and Lesley Messer contributed to this report.

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