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Film critic Roger Ebert takes 'leave of presence' to fight cancer

Lots of Detroit readers look for film critic Roger Ebert's signature endorsement "two thumbs up" when they scan a movie's poster or a DVD's cover. Ebert, who has written for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years, is one of the most trusted reviewers in the entertainment industry and his wry, witty personality has endeared him to many.

Sadly, Ebert, 70, announced on Wednesday that he was taken a leave of absence -- he called it a "leave of presence" -- because he has cancer. Ebert learned he had thyroid cancer in 2002 and had to have his lower jaw removed in 2006 because the cancer had spread to his salivary glands. It is not immediately quite clear what sort of cancer he has been diagnosed with now.

In a note to readers, Ebert said he was not going away. He said radiation treatments have cut into the number of movies he can see and write about, but he plans to still review as many as he can, participate in the annual film festival his hometown hosts in his honor and contribute to several documentaries.

We wanted to write about this because it is important that Detroit readers know that they are eligible to take time off work if they have medical or certain personal issues they need to address. This right is guaranteed under the Family and Medical Leave Act. We also found it inspiring that Ebert seems determined not to let his "leave of presence" derail his career. Detroit readers should take note and know that taking qualified FMLA time should not adversely harm your professional life, either.

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