Tom Brokaw Opens Up About Incurable Blood Cancer In Reflective Talk About Retirement

Tom Brokaw is opening up about his health and lifelong career in journalism.

The veteran reporter, diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2014 and retired after 55 years in 2021, told his former “Today” show co-anchor Jane Pauley in an upcoming interview that his fight against blood cancer has been an overwhelming cross to bear.

“I’ve had a bad experience,” the 83-year-old told Pauly on “CBS Sunday Morning,” per ET. “I kept thinking bad things wouldn’t happen to me. But as I grew older, I began to develop this condition. And what you try to do is control it as much as you can.”

Multiple myeloma forms in plasma, or white blood cells, which helps the immune system fight infections by creating antibodies that attack invasive germs, according to the Mayo Clinic. Cancerous plasma cells dangerously overtake healthy ones in the bone marrow.

The famed reporter told Pauley his doctors didn’t think he would live much longer when they diagnosed him with the disease. Brokaw previously shared it was in remission, only for the condition to return — and force him to give up the passion that made his career.

“I’ve had to change my life in some way,” he told Pauley. “I really had to give up my daily activity with NBC. I had to walk away from them as they were walking away from me. I just wasn’t the same… And so, for the first time in my life, I was… in a place I had never been.”

Brokaw retired from NBC in 2021 after 55 years as a journalist.

Brokaw retired from NBC in 2021 after 55 years as a journalist.

Brokaw retired from NBC in 2021 after 55 years as a journalist.

The change was understandably difficult, as Brokaw — who served as NBC’s White House correspondent for three years beginning in 1973, co-anchored the “Today” show from 1976 to 1981 and briefly helmed “Meet the Press” in 2008 — spent his entire career at NBC.

His decades-long tenure on TV was certainly one for the books.

Brokaw reported on former President Ronald Reagan’s first run for office, Robert F. Kennedy’s campaign and assassination and the fall of the Berlin Wall. He became managing editor and anchor of “NBC Nightly News” in 1982 — and helmed it for 22 years.

Brokaw, whom former President Barack Obama was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014, endearingly told Pauley about his new book “Never Give Up: A Prairie Family’s Story” — which essentially serves as a love letter to his tireless parents.

“He was the toughest kid in town,” he told Pauley about his father, who started working dangerous jobs at age 8.

“One of them was digging a deep well,” Brokaw told Pauley. “And they would put a rope around my dad’s legs and drop him down headfirst into the well.”

The full interview airs Sunday at 9 am EST on CBS and will be available on Paramount+.


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