Pat Conroy announces cancer diagnosis

‘I intend to fight it hard’

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Celebrated Southern author Pat Conroy announced Monday that he has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

The man behind such books as The Lords of Discipline, The Prince of Tides, and The Great Santini shared the news on Facebook, writing of his Lowcountry home and plans to continue working.

“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 15,” he said. “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.”

Conroy’s most recent work came in 2013 with a memoir titled The Death of Santini, which delved further into his difficult childhood and relationship with his father. As always, Conroy offered an unflinching look at his past and the life he has lived.

“When I was 30 years old, my novel The Great Santini was published, and there were many things in that book I was afraid to write or feared that no one would believe. But this year I turned 65, the official starting date of old age and the beginning count down to my inevitable death,” he wrote. “I’ve come to realize that I still carry the bruised freight of that childhood every day. I can’t run away, hide, or pretend it never happened.”

While Conroy has spent much of his career examining the trials of his youth, in October, on the eve of turning 70, he took the time write about the sense of happiness that he has begrudgingly come to know.

“It has agitated me that I find myself approaching my 70th birthday and have discovered within myself a capacity for joy I never once felt any capacity for having. To write it down strikes a chord of sappiness in me. But in my career, if I discovered something rising out of me I took it as a point of honor to write it down,” he wrote on his website. “I’ve found myself studying my past of late, and though there has been a theme of discordance and tragedy in my work and life, I’ve been a supremely lucky man. But a happy one? This is a river without markers or navigational charts for me.”

Conroy currently resides in Beaufort, S.C., with his wife and fellow author Cassandra King.


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