Pat Conroy, South Carolina gentleman and literary legend, has just announced that he’s been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He posted the following on his Facebook page:
Hey out there,
I celebrated my 70th birthday in October and realized that I’ve spent my whole writing life trying to find out who I am and I don’t believe I’ve even come close. It was in Beaufort in sight of a river’s sinuous turn, and the movements of its dolphin-proud tides that I began to discover myself and where my life began at fifteen.
I have recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. With the help of the wonderful people at M.D. Anderson I intend to fight it hard. I am grateful to all my beloved readers, my friends and my family for their prayers. I owe you a novel and I intend to deliver it.
This is devastating news for the literary community, and of course for Conroy’s family and friends. Pancreatic cancer is the disease which took my grandmother from us far too soon, and it breaks my heart to know that one of my literary heroes is battling it.
I first read Conroy’s work when I was 10 years old; he has quite literally been my family’s literary patron saint–an author each of us read, enjoyed and loved because he so bravely and gorgeously said all the things we felt about our homeland–throughout my life. His writing has been an inspiration to me for so long that I can’t imagine my writing and reading life without him. He endorsed my first novel, an act of stunning generosity that has been a highlight of my young writing career.
Mr. Conroy is a fighter, and he’s promised to fight. I plan to keep him, and his family and friends, in my thoughts and prayers.