Hitchens on death

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Christopher Hitchens holds some political views with which I disagree, but like him, I am a staunch atheist. Last summer he found out that he, like me, has stage 4 cancer, which will probably kill him, again like me, fairly soon. He has talked and written a fair bit about it, eloquently of course.

Most recent is this video interview (with text transcript, via Jerry Coyne), where he talks almost entirely about his cancer and the prospect of his own death. He still finds time to tear into Mother Teresa, though:

He says many things that mirror my own thoughts. However, perhaps because his cancer is so much more recent, he still thinks a treatment might come soon to keep him alive. He also still wants to contribute to treatment experiments, regardless of whether they might help him directly, which something I have decided I no longer want—I have suffered enough in four years.

Hitchens realizes he might never again see his native Britain, because travel is becoming more and more difficult. He acknowledges that, even if he were to know how many months he might have left before he dies, he'd need to know what kind of months those would be before he could decide what to do with them. He talks of profound weakness, of undertaking a simple task one day that might have been impossible the day before, and might be impossible again the next. All give me pangs of recognition.

He and I have never met, or spoken, or communicated in any way, but I feel kinship with Christopher Hitchens. He is 20 years older than I am. Yet we are both on a short road to our deaths, which will be our end, and we both know it.


I watched that interview a few days back and found it fascinating. I don't know if you've seen the interview he did for the BBC's 'Newsnight' programme just before Christmas - it's a really good one:


Like you, I'm not 100% in agreement with his politics... but I've very much enjoyed his stance on religion - and his uncompromising way of getting his point across in religious debates!!

Hi Derek,

Thanks for the link. I just finished watching the interview and as I did so it occurred to me to wonder what question(s) you might have liked to ask or discuss with him if you could.

Thanks for all of your opinions and for your willingness to share relevant links. I just discovered that I have liver mets from stage IIIb colon cancer (dx April 2007). Your blogged life has been an inspiration to me.

Hi Derek.

My thoughts are with you at this very difficult time in your life. Thank you for having the courage to keep contributing your thoughts to those who read them for they do matter.

I know you are an Atheist. I am not. This does not matter in the least. I have no Religious affiliation. I just believe what I do.

But one thing that I am sure of and that what I think you'll agree to is that we must all be kind and compassionate to those who are going through difficult times for no one is immune to extreme challenges. What one thinks between the ears has nothing to do with the inherent value of each person. Common ground must be found for our similarities far outweigh our differences.

In this light I wish you all the best. Keep posting. You have much to offer.

All the best.

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