Novak column describes cancer treatment

/ Source: The Associated Press

Since being diagnosed with brain cancer, Robert Novak has lost partial vision and undergone surgery to remove a tumor, the conservative political commentator wrote in a column published Saturday.

In a piece entitled "My brain tumor brings out the best in people" posted on the Chicago Sun-Times' Web site, Novak details his life since his diagnosis, including losing his way to his longtime office and having seizures.

"I have lost not only left peripheral vision but nearly all my left vision, probably permanently," Novak wrote.

Novak, editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report, has been a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times for decades. He is perhaps best known as the longtime co-host of CNN's "Crossfire" from 1980 to 2005.

He announced his retirement on Aug. 4, less than a week after he struck a pedestrian with his car in downtown Washington, telling the newspaper his prognosis was "dire." He has since written columns sporadically for the newspaper.

In Saturday's column, Novak wrote that he underwent a four-hour surgery Aug. 15 at Duke University Medical Center during which a 3-by-1 1/2-inch tumor was removed. Dr. Allan H. Friedman, the chief of neurosurgery at the hospital who operated on Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's brain tumor this summer, performed the surgery.

The columnist said he spoke with Kennedy's wife, Vicki Kennedy, on the phone and she urged him to have surgery at Duke.

"The Kennedys were not concerned by political and ideological differences when someone's life was at stake, recalling at least the myth of milder days in Washington," Novak wrote. "My long conversation with Vicki Kennedy filled me with hope."

Six minutes before his surgery, President George W. Bush phoned to wish him well, Novak said.

Novak said he still must undergo radiation and chemotherapy treatment at George Washington University Hospital in Washington.

He said his doctor suggested he write columns to return to parts of his normal life.

"There are mad bloggers who profess to take delight in my distress, but there's no need to pay them attention in the face of such an outpouring of goodwill for me," Novak wrote. "I had thought 51 years of rough-and-tumble journalism in Washington made me more enemies than friends, but my recent experience suggests the opposite may be the case."

Novak was the first to reveal the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame. His 2003 column came out eight days after Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, said the Bush administration had twisted prewar intelligence to exaggerate the threat posed by Iraq.