There has only ever been 1 newscaster in my life, and that man is Tom Brokaw. I lurve him. I wanted Brian Williams to be Tom Brokaw Jr., but that didn’t quite pan out. But it’s OK, because Tom is still doing special assignments and writing books and we can still spend quality time together. Because Tom is going to live forever. I decided this, and it’s fine.
So, when he was diagnosed with cancer, it really messed things up. What about meeeee, Tom?
Actually, I think Tom was thinking, “Meeeee?”
And then he wrote about it in this lovely book.
A Lucky Life Interrupted: A Memoir of Hope is Tom’s reflection on his cancer diagnosis and treatment, and coming to terms with his own fallibility. It’s not a downer of a book, and it’s not a “AND NOW EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE FOREVER” work of self-deception, either. It’s honest and pragmatic. And Tom …
(God help me, I can’t stop referring to him by his first name, because I truly feel like I know him after 40 years together)
… acknowledges how lucky he has been in life, and how lucky he was in his health care options. The man’s on the board of the Mayo Clinic, after all. And he can pick up the phone and call specialists and get the very best of the very best. He acknowledges this, and is humbled by the luxury.
But Tom also grumbles about how cancer took a few inches off his height. And how he hates the idea of not being able to go fly fishing, and the times he stupidly pushed his physical limits to disastrous consequences. He’s honest, even in the ugly, “poor me” of being ill.
When my mom was sick, I wanted to make a t-shirt that said, “My mom has cancer, so fuck off.” I’m a little touchy about magical unicorn books about illness, or woe-to-me outlooks. Honesty? Honesty is my jam. And my man Tom delivers.
I give this book four cancer-fighting labradoodles.
Important side note: My pal Alice once talked to Tom at a Starbucks and he was engaging and wonderful. Because he’s from the Midwest. Ladies? If you want a nice, decent guy? Move here. We raise ’em right. Well, not “we” – I still can’t totally potty-train my dachshund. But Midwestern ladies who have male human children? They do a good job.
Well, any honest book about cancer has its merits, but the fact that it's written by a man of such integrity and character? Even better. I would read this.
On a related note: my aunt survived breast cancer and has a t-shirt that reads "yes, they're fake. My real ones tried to kill me."
A friend of ours, back in his waiting tables in DC days, once waited on Tom at dinner one evening and says he really is that charming in person.
Honesty and integrity get me every time. I fell for him when he gave us "The Greatest Generation" by sharing their stories.