Tom Brokaw is a television journalist and author, best known for his work as an anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News between 1982 and 2004. Now 76-years-old, Brokaw has been battling an incurable blood cancer since August 2013. However, the anchor believes the disease has made him appreciate life more and brought him closer to new friends, according to an intimate interview recently given on the Today Monday show.
After being diagnosed with a cancer that attacks the plasma cells in bone marrow, the initial plan was to keep the disease a secret and at first, Brokaw’s wife, Meredith, was the only one to know about it. However, the couple had to disclose it to their three daughters when Brokaw collapsed during a fishing trip. Just four days after being diagnosed, Brokaw needed to receive emergency treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
During the interview, Brokaw spoke about his struggle, which has been particularly difficult due to daily chemotherapy sessions. “It never goes away. It is an incurable but highly treatable form of cancer. And I count on the treatable part of it,” said Brokaw. The anchor has written a book titled “A Lucky Life Interrupted,” where he talks about the disease and the importance of his family while coping with it.
His daughter Jennifer was a keystone in the process for Brokaw. “She was invaluable to me because she knew what questions to ask, what research to look for, how to get on the phone with me,” stated Brokaw. “If you have cancer, in a way your whole family gets cancer because they’re involved in it. If you don’t have cancer, you can be sympathetic, but you really can’t understand it until you get it yourself.”
At a time of vulnerability, Brokaw emphasized the importance of creating a support network. In addition to his family, the journalist surrounded himself with as much help as he could. “I say to cancer patients: find a friend who’s a doctor, and don’t make them part of your treatment team, make him your consigliere, your ombudsman. They’ll know what questions to ask. They’ll tell you what the translation may be about the information that you’re getting.”
He also revealed he had met incredible people who were also dealing with cancer, including a younger family friend who passed away last year. “He had a much more serious form of cancer than I did, but I was witness to his bravery and his optimism,” said Brokaw. “Michael and I would talk about fatigue and how no one could understand. He didn’t make it. The bravest guy I’ve ever met at that age, and I’ll miss him every day, and that’s the consequence of cancer.”
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