Having thrown a lot of darts throughout your career and then being on the receiving end, did you ever stop to think how your columns might have made other people feel?
No. [Laughs.] That’s not my nature.
What, if anything, has your illness taught you about friendship?
Surprisingly, I found that solicitous care for me crossed party lines. It has nothing to do with ideology, politics, or philosophy. There are really good friends who are quick to offer help, ask to come over and see me. Some people I thought were friends have never gotten in touch with me.
People react differently. Donnie Graham wrote me a nice letter. He said this was the first time since he was 15 that the Evans and Novak column was not in the Post. I thought that was very nice of him.
What’s the most helpful thing someone can say to a person who’s gravely ill?
There’s not much you can say. A lot of people say, “You’re a tough guy and a fighter. You’re gonna beat this.” Well, I don’t know if I will beat it. Being tough and a fighter have nothing to do with it. I guess the most helpful thing they can say, if they’re a man or woman of faith, is to tell me they’re praying for me.