Dr. Seuss Was a Cancer Patient, Too

Dr Seuss Holds 'The Cat In The Hat'
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Each year, we celebrate Dr. Seuss's birthday with Read Across America celebrations. As one of America's greatest children's book authors, Dr. Seuss taught us great lessons through his tongue-tying limericks. Even today in my adulthood, Dr. Seuss's words continue to not only make me laugh, but inspire me. One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Seuss has inspired many cancer patients when beginning their cancer journey:

"I've heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead, and some come from behind. But I've bought a big bat. And I'm all ready, you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me."

Dr. Seuss Died of Cancer

Theodore Geisel, who we all know as Dr. Seuss, was no stranger to cancer. He died of throat cancer in 1991 at age 87. Geisel was diagnosed with a form of oral cancer during a routine visit to his dentist. In the long run, he succumbed to the disease.

According to his obituary in the LA Times:

Geisel had undergone massive radiation and chemotherapy for cancer of the palate over the past nine years but still lost part of his jaw to cancer and, in recent weeks as his health slipped because of several maladies, he was given more to scrawling notes on paper than speaking.

Cancer of the palate, or roof of the mouth, is often a result of smoking or chewing tobacco. Symptoms include bleeding, bad breath, loose teeth, changes in speech, difficulty swallowing, inability to open the jaw, or lump in the neck.


Treatment for cancer of the palate can lead to problems with speech. In Geisel's case, it made it increasingly difficult for him to talk. Nevertheless, he finished his last book, Six By Seuss, in the year of his death.

How Did Dr. Seuss Cope with Cancer?

I have to wonder how a man with such a wonderful imagination coped with his disease.

Was he inspired by his own words as we continue to be?

While he had no books in the works at the time of his death, he didn't stop working. In fact, according to his obituary, 

At his death, Geisel was developing a screenplay for "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" on behalf of Tri-Star Productions, said his agent, Bob Tabian. Although his characters have appeared on television, this would would have been Geisel's first full-length animated release.

I have many great memories reading his books, from being a child and hiding under blankets with a flashlight while reading Fox in Socks so many times that my tongue would go numb to holding my children in my arms while reading The Cat in the Hat. I am certain many of you share similar memories. Today as we celebrate his birthday (I will be taking my kids to see The Lorax!) remember him not only for literacy genius, but also as a cancer fighter.