Tom Brokaw is ‘optimistic about the future.’ How 3 other journalists have shared their cancer stories

On Wednesday, NBC News announced that Tom Brokaw was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in August of last year.

Throughout the treatment, Brokaw has continued to work on NBC News projects, including a two-hour documentary on the assassination of JFK; appearances on “TODAY,” “Nightly News with Brian Williams,” “Meet the Press” and MSNBC. He is also contributing to NBC Sports coverage of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Brokaw wrote in a statement released Tuesday that he’s grateful for support and wants to keep the issue private. In the last several years, other prominent broadcast journalists have also dealt with cancer publicly. Here’s how they did it.

Brokaw in 2011. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Robin Roberts

In June of 2013, “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts announced that, after recovering from breast cancer five years before, she’d been diagnosed with MDS “or myelodysplastic syndrome.”

It’s a disease of the blood and bone marrow and was once known as preleukemia.

My doctors tell me I’m going to beat this — and I know it’s true.”


Roberts went about her treatments publicly, airing a Q & A with her doctor and offering a look into what the process for her would be like.


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In December of last year, Roberts celebrated 100 days since a bone marrow transplant by thanking her partner and publicly coming out.

Roberts in Feb. 2013. (AP Photo/ABC, Heidi Gutman)

In late January, “GMA” announced that Roberts made a PSA for Be The Match.

In public service announcements titled “I Beat Cancer. Twice,” and “Focus on the Fight. Not the Fright,” Roberts encourages people to help save lives by supporting research into blood cancers and by increasing the number of volunteer bone marrow donors. She also specifically addressed the need for more African-American volunteer bone marrow donors.

Amy Robach

In October 2013, “GMA” anchor Amy Robach discovered she had breast cancer during an on-air mammogram.


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In January, Robach talked about getting her hair cut to “take control” during chemotherapy.

On Feb. 5, Stephan Lee wrote for Entertainment Weekly on a new book Robach is writing a book about her cancer.

“This is completely unchartered territory for me. I have covered the tragedies and triumphs of others for nearly 20 years as a journalist, but never before have I faced such personal fear, humility and uncertainty,” said Robach in a press release. “I want to share this road that so many have traveled before, and help pave the way for those who unfortunately will follow. Nothing is the same, everything changes, but the fight to live joyfully has been ignited.”

Robach is currently reporting from Sochi.

 

Helen Fawkes

After recovering from cancer 11 years before, the BBC’s Helen Fawkes made what she called “A List for Living.”

I came up with my List for Living. The things I’d always wanted to do. I decided I wanted to work abroad instead of just dreaming about it.

I finished chemo and within weeks later I was in Moscow.

From war and revolution to pork fat covered in chocolate, I spent almost seven years reporting on all sorts of stories as a BBC foreign correspondent. It was an amazing adventure

When she came back home, though, she was diagnosed with cancer again. In October 2013, she wrote about her diagnosis.

What would you do if you found out that your time was limited? If you were told that you could be dead within months, you certainly had no more than five years to live?

Well, that’s the situation which I’m facing. On Christmas Eve last year I found out that I had incurable ovarian cancer. I felt waves of shock, sadness and anger. But I also knew that once I’d come to terms with the devastating news, I was going to make the most of the time I had left.

Fawkes continues writing regularly about her treatment and her list.

 

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