Long-time NBC news anchor, Tom Brokaw, has announced that he has cancer. In a follow-up statement expressing gratitude for the thoughts and concerns of his fans, Brokaw also requested privacy and respect for his need to keep this matter personal. He, his family and the doctors who are tending to Brokaw are optimistic about the progress the treatment is yielding.
The form of cancer Brokaw is fighting, called multiple myeloma, affects the blood cells that are inside bone marrow. White blood cells, and more specifically plasma cells, within the marrow of human bone are the creators of proteins, or antibodies, that fight against infection. When a cluster of cancerous cells invades the bone’s marrow, multiplication is rapid and a tumor can develop. When the cells have formed more than one tumor, as in Tom Brokaw’s case, the diagnosis is multiple myeloma. Healthy proteins are replaced by an abundance of abnormal ones that do not produce antibodies. An otherwise healthy individual is then flooded with harmful plasma cells and any infection puts the person’s system at risk.
Tom Brokaw was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in August of last year, but has just released the information publicly. The Mayo Clinic identified his cancer and doctors who have set the news anchor’s treatment in motion are optimistic about his body’s reaction thus far. Mr. Brokaw has described himself as “the luckiest guy I know” through the diagnosis and his recent disclosure of the illness.
While working to recover from cancer, Brokaw has continued to work for NBC in various capacities. According to his statement, as reported via NBC News, “since beginning treatment Tom has worked on the documentary about John F. Kennedy’s assassination, has made several on-air appearances, and has even been a part of the sports coverage for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games. With a positive attitude and hopeful outlook from physicians, Brokaw is proceeding with life, but not at the high-stress, fast pace at which he once performed.”
The news anchor, who is now 74-years-old, began his broadcasting career in 1966 as a reporter on NBC. In 1982, Brokaw took a seat at the anchor desk. For 22 years, viewers of NBC Nightly News tuned into see Mr. Brokaw report on the latest national and international news stories. In 2004, Tom left the highly esteemed position in an effort to slow down a bit. He worked as a special correspondent for NBC, but did not have to, in his words, “rush back to the studio to be on air.” He also appreciated not having to worry about ratings; he was able to choose the stories he reported.
One year later, fellow news anchor, Peter Jennings of ABC passed away from lung cancer. In a 2012 interview, Brokaw said that he viewed the loss as a time of confirmation that retirement was the correct step in his own life. Less than two years later he was diagnosed with terminal cancer as well.
Now, as he fights for his life, Tom Brokaw is conveying an optimistic attitude about his cancer treatment. His body is working to counteract the protein buildup that can affect his kidneys, bones, immune system and his total number of healthy red blood cells. There is not a release of more information at this time, as the Brokaw family wishes to keep this a “private manner.”
By K. Corrine Van Vliet