Brokaw, 73, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma – an incurable but treatable form of blood cancer – in August of 2013. At a gala on Tuesday for Literacy Partners, a nonprofit organization which teaches adult New Yorkers how to read, the former Nightly News host read an excerpt from his upcoming book, A Lucky Life Interrupted: A Memoir of Hope, which detailed how he received the news – and how he told his wife of over 50 years.
“In about 30 minutes I went from the illusion of being forever young to the reality that life as its own way of choosing its own course,” read Brokaw, according to the New York Post, adding that he was “utterly unprepared” to hear the words his doctor was telling him. Told that his life expectancy would be five years – “but you should beat that – Brokaw remarked that he “had often wondered how I would react to this kind of news, but then don’t we all? Now I know – family first.”
Brokaw told his wife, Meredith, after making a drink – “scotch on the rocks” – and launched into his “rehearsed” speech. “I wanted to be precise,” he read, reports the Post, “but also I was struggling to deal with a strange tug of war between a new reality and a way of life I could not quite believe was slipping away from me.”
When Brokaw revealed his cancer diagnosis in February of 2014, he said at the time that he “remain[ed] the luckiest guy I know.” That thread of optimism is present in his memoir, too: “I said nothing [to my wife] about dying from this cancer, I didn’t expect to, but I did say, ‘This will change our lives.’ ”
Added the newsman: “And so I decided to write this book, not as a ‘Poor Tommy has cancer,’ but as a guide, if you will, for other families encountering this dreadful disease. I remain a lucky guy.”