I had posted his column in February when he announced his terminal cancer. Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer
He was 82. This from the Guardian (UK).
The London-born academic, whose book Awakenings inspired the Oscar-nominated film of the same name, wrote: “A month ago, I felt that I was in good health, even robust health. At 81, I still swim a mile a day. But my luck has run out – a few weeks ago I learned that I have multiple metastases in the liver.”
Sacks was the author of several books about unusual medical conditions, including The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat and The Island of the Colourblind. Awakenings was based on his work with patients treated with a drug that woke them up after years in a catatonic state.
Sacks came across the patients in 1966 while working as a consulting neurologist for Beth Abraham hospital, a chronic care hospital, in the Bronx. Many patients had spent decades in strange, frozen states, like human statues. He recognised them as survivors of the encephalitis epidemic that had swept the world from 1916 to 1927, and treated them with a then-experimental drug, L-dopa, which enabled them to recover.
These patients became the subjects of Awakenings, which later inspired a play by Harold Pinter – A Kind of Alaska. The 1990 film version, starring Robert De Niro and Robin Williams, was nominated for three Oscars including best picture.