How is Christopher Hitchens Doing? July 19, 2010

How is Christopher Hitchens Doing?

Christopher Hitchens, author of God is Not Great and Hitch-22, appeared on the Hugh Hewitt show late last week to talk about his memoir and his health.

HH: Now Christopher, since we last spoke, your illness you disclosed on the web, and people will want to know off the bat how you are doing, and how your treatment is going.

CH: Oh well, I have, in case people are just tuning in, I have cancer in my esophagus, which has I think spread a little to my lymph nodes as well. And I’m two weeks into the chemotherapy course. So I feel pretty weak, and my voice isn’t what it was, but that’s supposed to be a good sign in that the amount of poison I’m taking is presumably working on the bad stuff as well as the good stuff. And this morning, I found that my hair was beginning to come out in the shower, which is a bit demoralizing, I have to say, even though it’s the least of it.

HH: And the audience would love to know, what are you going to work on next during your treatment, and how are you going to conduct yourself in the course of a long sort of chemotherapy?

CH: Well, I’m just hoping I won’t be as exhausted in the next phase as I am now. It’s been very nice talking to you. I hope I haven’t sounded too weary, and, by the way, it’s been less of an effort than I feared, but it’s quite an effort now even for me to read anything very demanding. So I’m going to have to husband what I’ve got for a bit, and perhaps not make any too grand claims about what I intend to do.

It’s good to see his mind is still as strong as ever even if his health is declining.

You can read the much longer full interview here.

Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Ah, the Hitch, always a realist.

  • Aaron

    Chemo sucks. All my hair fell out at once while I watched Notting Hill.
    I blame Hugh Grant.

  • mkb

    I think that we can be fairly sure that Hitchens won’t be watching Notting Hill….

  • Rich Wilson

    Or anything with Hugh Grant in it.

  • Roxane

    I don’t know. I watch some pretty simple-minded stuff when I’m not up to par. I hope he watches whatever makes him feel better!

  • tara

    Hitch is one of the kindest and smartest people of all time. A bad thing is happening to a very good person. I hope he lives a few more decades–he is nowhere near finished imparting decency and wisdom.

  • Hybrid

    Hitch has cancer? This is horrible, my condolences to the cancer… 🙂

    No prayers offered, naturally, but I do wish Hitch good luck with the best treatments current science has to offer. I also offer thanks where it’s due… to the doctors, scientists, and others who make such treatments not only possible, but increasingly successful.

    Hitch has turned on the lights in many minds, hopefully he’ll be doing the same for years to come. Best wishes Hitch.

  • Claudia

    In the full interview there’s a very graceful response to the whole praying for him thing:

    HH: The number of people I’m sure who are praying for you, including people who come up to me and ask me to tell you that, people like Joseph Timothy Cook, how are you responding to them, given your famous atheism?

    CH: Well look, I mean, I think that prayer and holy water, and things like that are all fine. They don’t do any good, but they don’t necessarily do any harm. It’s touching to be thought of in that way. It makes up for those who tell me that I’ve got my just desserts. It’s, I’m afraid to say it’s almost as well-founded an idea. I mean, I don’t, they don’t know whether prayer will work, and they don’t know whether I’ve come by this because I’m a sinner.

    HH: Oh, I…has anyone actually said that to you?

    CH: Yeah, oh yes.

    HH: Oh, my gosh. Forgive them. Well…

    CH: Well, I mean, I don’t mind. It doesn’t hurt me. But for the same reason, I wish it was more consoling. But I have to say there’s some extremely nice people, including people known to you, have said that I’m in their prayers, and I can only say that I’m touched by the thought.

    I’ll admit I’ve never much liked Hitchens. That’s not to say I don’t think he’s brilliant (I do) or I don’t agree with his ideas (I do some, not others), but that he’s always struck me as a bombastic ass far too much in love with the sound of his own voice. However I have to admit he’s being a class act in this, so maybe I’ll have to reevaluate my opinions.

  • muggle

    Roxanne, haven’t we all? I just got over some kind of 24 hour bug thing which doesn’t even come close to the bitch of chemotherapy and you don’t even want to know the bad crap I laid on the recliner and stared mindlessly at the TV through yesterday when I wasn’t running to the bathroom.

    I think he’s doing the right thing. Relying on the doctors and being patient with the prayer people. Exactly right. Accept the well wishes and move on and concentrate on getting well.

    (Though I daresay churches making public proclamations about how they’re praying for him are a bit less than sincere in their “well wishes”, he’s smart to be the bigger man and give them the benefit of the doubt and accept that with grace and dignity.)

    Hope he wins the battle.

  • Mark in Houston

    Christopher Hitchens is experiencing the fate of all – a slow march towards death. His biological decay, hastened by smoking tobacco I am sure, can be mediated by cancer treatments, but in the end he will succumb to death – as do we all. His soul has experienced birth and life and he will now face the next phase – death. The great equalizer arrives and triumphs over the soul with no regard to stature, power, wealth, lineage, faith, education, mental or physical condition or age. The quiet grave awaits.

  • Larry

    The Hugh Hewitt interview is worth reading:

    Something Hitch said in that interview jumped out at me:

    HH: I want to move to Salman Rushdie. Valentine’s Day, 1989, a fatwa issues against him. You write on Page 268 of Hitch-22, “I felt it once. Here was something that completely committed me. It was, if I can phrase it like this, a matter of everything I hated versus everything I loved.”

    One of the things I like about CH is his willingness to love and hate and then to document exactly why he has these feelings. I am edging ever closer to releasing my wishy-washy politically correct language myself.

    I may not always understand or agree with him, but I have yet to find his arguments less than compelling.

    I for one will be paying close attention to what he says now.

  • Johnno

    Poor old Hitch. I promise NOT to pray for you mate but I do send my best wishes for a positive outcome from your treatment and a speedy recovery of good health. We atheists need you to help keep the god-botherers on the straight and narrow. Good Luck.

  • Tony

    I like Hitch and respect his intellect greatly although some of his opinions get me yelling at my monitor when watching some Youtube bits.
    One thing I do know is that although there is NO HELL nor heaven as described by the religious nuts, a conscious part of us does continue and Hitch will get the shock of his life when he becomes aware of it. It’s not religious nor metaphysical, it is just a part of the natural universe for which we have not yet discovered an explanation. Jeez I’d love to be a fly on the wall.

  • Tony

    The loony religious nutters have it wrong.
    Life does continue but there’s no retribution, no heaven or hell just a shift to another state of existence. Hitch is gonna get the shock of his life when he finally passes, I just hope he doesn’t freak out thinking that the Christians were right, they’re wrong but so are the atheists except for the BS about divine retribution,we dole that out to ourselves. I don’t think we have much to worry about Hitch will be OK.

  • Vasi


    Please can you help me by providing an email address to use to forward an email to Christopher Hitchins.
    I just watched an interview he did with Tony Jones where he said he wished more people would get in touch with him about the difference, for the good, he has made in his life.
    I would very much like to do this for him.
    Many thanks,

  • Jenniferwood123

    Did you find out how to get in touch, I would like to do the same

  • Jenniferwood123

    Did you find out how to get in touch, I would like to do the same

  • Jenniferwood123

    Did you find out how to get in touch, I would like to do the same

error: Content is protected !!