From a bicycle trip through Chile and Argentina to a South African journey to report on Nelson Mandela’s final days, former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw had no intention of slowing down as he celebrated his 73rd birthday in February 2013. What he didn’t count on was a cancer diagnosis a few months later that would transform the next 16 months of his life into one in which cancer became “the scrim through which all of life is viewed.”
Brokaw suffers from multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow’s plasma cells that is treatable, but not curable. A Lucky Life Interrupted is the product of the journal Brokaw, ever the reporter, kept to document his experience. He frankly describes cancer’s physical and emotional toll as his treatment proceeded, but he leavens that often sobering account with vivid reminiscences from a career that helped earn him a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014.
With a loving family that includes an emergency room physician daughter as well as access to world-class specialists at leading hospitals, Brokaw realizes that his good fortune in health didn’t desert him in sickness. But even with those advantages, he takes some pointed shots at a health care system in which the efforts of his team of doctors were poorly coordinated at times and where a single chemotherapy pill cost $500.
“I’ve had a life rich in personal and professional rewards beyond what should be anyone’s even exaggerated expectations,” Brokaw writes. He’s clear-eyed about the challenges that lie ahead, but no doubt he’ll face them with a renewed appreciation for his good life and a determination to live whatever remains of it to the fullest.