In his new memoir, A Lucky Life Interrupted, Tom Brokaw explains how cursing Tom Brady helped him brave cancer

By Tierney McAfee
Updated May 08, 2015 07:15 PM
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Credit: D Dipasupil/FilmMagic

Tom Brokaw is opening up about his battle with blood cancer in a new book, A Lucky Life Interrupted: A Memoir of Hope.

In the memoir, the former anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News looks back on his life, reveals what he’d still like to achieve and shares condolence notes he received from stars like Jon Stewart – he also explains how cursing Tom Brady helped him through cancer treatment.

Brokaw, whose cancer is currently in remission, will talk more about his journey on a special episode of Dateline NBC Friday night. In the meantime, here are some highlights from the legendary newsman’s memoir:

1. Cursing Tom Brady helped him cope with cancer
When Brokaw, 75, was in excruciating back pain because of his multiple myeloma, he was forced every day to face a huge billboard of a young, healthy Tom Brady outside his apartment. “On cold Manhattan days, shuffling cautiously over the sidewalks, my back wrenched in pain, I’d look at him and say silently, ‘F— you,’ ” Brokaw writes.

Six months later, Brokaw met Brady for the first time and confessed his “therapeutic” habit. Luckily, there were no hard feelings – in fact, Brokaw’s story gave the New England Patriots quarterback a “big laugh.”

2. Jon Stewart once called him "one tough son of a bitch"
In November 2013, Brokaw appeared on The Daily Show. He was undergoing chemotherapy at the time but hadn’t gone public with his diagnosis. After the news broke in February 2014, Stewart sent him an email saying, “You are one tough son of a bitch.” I didn’t want to trouble you with my condition, Brokaw wrote back, to which Stewart replied, “You can’t be Jewish. I would trouble you if I had gas!”

3. David Letterman was a source of support for Brokaw during his cancer battle
Stewart wasn’t the only celebrity who reached out to Brokaw during his cancer struggle. He also received condolences from President Obama, former President George Bush, Charles Barkley and more. Brokaw told his friend David Letterman about his diagnosis long before it went public. The Late Show host was very “attentive” from then on, calling to check on Brokaw and inviting him to dinner.

4. He’s considering his bucket list
Throughout his memoir, Brokaw mentioned several goals he hoped to accomplish before his death. Here are some items on his list:
• Learn to sail solo
• Learn to play chess
• Get a short story published
• Spend more mornings by the sea with his wife, Meredith Lynn Auld, a copy of The New Yorker and plenty of black coffee
• Fish more river and saltwater flats

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5. His number-one goal is "to remain unbroken"
Before he died in July 2014, Louis Zamperini, the subject of the book and movie Unbroken, shared some inspiring words with Brokaw. “I never gave up, no matter how hard the beating and torture,” Zamperini said of the brutality he endured as a World War II prisoner of war.

Brokaw made that his goal, too – “to remain unbroken.”