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tv   Book Discussion on A Lucky Life Interrupted  CSPAN  August 16, 2015 7:45am-8:55am EDT

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still flying today in certain things they will not release to the public in terms of the airplane and key secrets about its functionality or maybe they didn't want the public to know at the time. other than that i don't have an answer for why the community at large and specifically why the families didn't get a personal report because i know some of them took the four year request for me to get a copy of it ever so glad i got a copy because now the families can say definitively this is what happened on the plane and we can put that to rest. >> this is a great quote from ju determined. she says her into telling the truth about terrible tragedies are prerequisite both for the healing of individuals that dems. we need to talk about these things but also the restoration of the social order and a lot of times we miss that for things to go back to normal we need to talk about them and every time i
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speak about this event in a community setting i can see healing occur in families coming out to talk about it and it gives us a sense of where you're getting this software chess because there were many families, many loved ones still around today who lost loved ones at the time who never spoke about it and now they have an avenue to talk about it. >> next, tom brokaw talks about being diagnosed with blood cancer in the diary he kept during his year of treatment. you'll have a chance to talk to mr. brokaw from our coverage of the book festival in cm
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december 5th. [inaudible conversations] hardback >> good evening. great to have you here. i am patricia lynch. an executive producer of writers on the new england stage in the executive director of the music hall. we are just delighted you are with us for another great author event here at the music hall. our guest is agassi celebrated journalists, trained to commit visiting with his new book [cheers and applause] hot off the press, "a lucky life interrupted." we are still honored this is actually the only book related event he is doing in the country. [cheers and applause]
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is so much to say about this remarkable man but his batsmen to keep it short and i'm going to. you know he is a renowned author. he's an award winner in many, many categories. he's a favorite of television audiences, a calming voice for years and years. of course the author of six bestsellers including the latest generation in anymore. he's also a native of south dakota with a degree in political science and began his journalism career in omaha and atlanta before joining nbc news. mr. brokaw was the sole anchor and managing editor of nbc's nightly news with tom brokaw from 1983 to 2005. i am just giving you the barest highlights here. he is still producing longform
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documentaries and providing expertise during breaking news events. and he's won every major award in journalism than in 2014, tom brokaw was awarded the presidential medal of freedom. [cheers and applause] tonight mr. brokaw's going to speak to us about his lucky life and he will also talk more about his struggle over the past two years, how since 2013 is that a cancer diagnosis and treatment for multiple myeloma. after he discusses his new book for approximately 20 minutes, he'll be interviewed by virginia prescott, new hampshire public radio's daily program of emerging ideas and unexpected stories. of course we're always thrilled to have virginia and her team from new hampshire public radio s. are part are.
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[cheers and applause] throughout the coming hour, our wonderful house band, dreadnought, thanks guys, great to see you. we'll be playing sounds perfect for us tonight. check out the playlist in your program. a few other questions you'd like to ask mr. brokaw. they shut it down on the index cards and hand it to a nashua. we will go for just as many as we can. now i see no writers on the new england stage is a partnership between the musical in new hampshire public radio. who will get to work right after this event producing the radio version of what you see tonight. we are grateful for the partnership and also presenting the university of new hampshire. [applause] r. series sponsors of the store group of wells fargo is there, a
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tree service and calypso communication. media sponsors thank you magazine. evening sponsors are a very insurance and seacoast area of libraries. our season sponsors the river house restaurant, and the residents of poor bob plays. new hampshire public radio also wants to think of broadcast sponsor. let's give them all a hand. [applause] i want to mention that c-span is with us tonight filming for their show booktv. i want to do a special shout out for the transportation and hospitality showing us what our good friend. now, back to you tonight. truly this is a lucky night for all of us. please welcome to the stage are very esteemed guest, tom brokaw.
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[applause] >> thank you. [cheers and applause] thank you very nice. that is very generous of you. in fact, it was a lamont battling for me to arrive in new hampshire today. my body clock was off because it's been three years since i've been here. i usually come here for years, so i'll be back next year as well for the first in the nation primary. i really do love your stay. i first started coming here in 1972 and i've been coming every four years since then and once in a while in between there as well. i believe i was in the midwest and new hampshire in the northeast or the too perfect
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places to launch our presidential camp came. not everyone agrees with me. the fact is in these two states, you take your submission should seriously. you work hard for what you have and you represent in the regions you are located part of the wolf in north america, the hard shores of new hampshire for our first settlers came in the deep rich soil of iowa as people begin to migrate across the country and settle first on farms and small villages between these two states we do have a representation of who we are. i always find it reassuring to go back to iowa and then immediately to new hampshire and watch the great presidential process play out. next year of course i have to be a little careful. i'm getting older. i'm not as quick on my feet. i don't know how i stay out of the way of all the republicans
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running for the presidential nominee. i honestly don't. [applause] let me just quickly tell you about the first campaign i had to cover in new hampshire. there is the mayor of los angeles at the time that the name of seniority. is more republican than democrat, but he decided he would run in the democratic primary here in 1972 to derail george mcgovern. that he was determined not to put in too much time on the campaign trail's suit campaign in a winnebago at 11 morning at 1:00 in the afternoon have a long nap. at any rate as a junior member of the nbc coverage team and unfortunately i drew sam your dfa candidate had to traipse around new hampshire a. one day i was just completely exhaust did mentally and physically by chasing after him knowing he was the going
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anywhere. when a colleague, friend of mine who is a competitor from cbs came running down the hall, the headquarters in manchester, he was waving los angeles time newspaper and said this will cheer you up. "the los angeles times" newspaper had a political cartoonist who had won three pulitzer prizes. his name is paul conrad. he had a cartoon that consisted of new hampshire and rockets on a spigot to meet him. and posters of sam your dion all those trees. and the caption read simply, the sap is running in new hampshire. [laughter] in fact, he did get me through the next 48 hours. i thought i would take a few
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moments of your time and tell you why i am here. it's an unexpected reason for my appearance to new hampshire. i've had the the luckiest life of anyone i know. in the last 52 years of my life and even before that my friends have said rochon, you report on his lucky star. i'd wonderful working-class parents. we moved around a lot but my parents always gave me the best attention under: life is to make it possible for me to go to college. when i was 15 and that to the metropolitan area of south florida. 9000 people. i want them to the and there is a most beautiful young woman i'd ever seen. she was well-known in the community. her name is meredith lowell, daughter of a talker, stunning beauty and great student. we quickly became fast friends although we were never high school sweetheart.
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pardon me, there were two reasons for that. she thought a fold around too much and i thought she didn't fool around enough. [laughter] forwarder class presidents and vice resident and a homecoming for her. she was a cheerleader and i was a jock in the date very close. i kind of went off the rails in college. i decided that chasing girls and drinking here was going to be my major and that didn't work out area well. meredith wrote me the harshest possible letter even though we were not involved with one another saying tom, no one understands what you are up to. you are wasting your life and effort they don't want to see or hear from you again. it was so devastating to me i had found out. i say can you believe what she's written to me and he said she is right. we can understand what's going on. i did an immediate turnaround and got my grades in order.
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i was working full-time, commuting to school and put myself back together again. meredith came to mean the library one day and said i was really out of line. i really preach too far with that. i said no, i had it coming. she said why don't we have a cup of coffee. nine months later we were getting married and i was 53 years ago. so that worked out pretty well. [applause] that was a part of my long, lucky strike that included three fabulous daughters who have their own families now. i caught the way the network news at just the right time with the skills that i had. it has been a long, lucky life. what happens is you begin to think that lucky strike will just continue. so i would like to read from the beginning of this book which will give you the premise of why i brought it and what we were going through.
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in the seasons of life, i have had more than my share of summers. a long line of sunny days and adventurous nights filled with lucky stars, uninterrupted by great personal calamity, rewarded in ways i that could not have imagined in those formative years on the great plains. our eldest daughter, jennifer reflecting her training as an emergency room physician. by the way, she's a graduate of the government medical school is along for the ride. she was along for the ride, but giving her training she worried. dad, she would say, we really never had anything go really wrong in our family. i wonder if we could handle it. we were about to find out. in the year 2013, typically about my birthday just go by. our 73 and much more focused on a bike trip i was taken across argentina and chile with a group of friends i'm looking forward to a trip to africa where meredith, my wife as a tomato
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project in malawi where she is teaching native women to canned tomatoes and sell them in the supermarket and mac community. then i would be covering the final days of nelson mandela, one of the greatest man i've ever countered or not. i would be down where he spent so many years that would be going into the bushes well with a friend of i'd. ..
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i was the home of ben tim russert. he looked at me and said oh i know the two worst things that ever happened to buffalo. [laughter] the death of tim russert and when they got beat in the bowl by the dallas cowboys. the dr. said something is going on here, i went off and began to
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get my house in order for the board meeting the next day and the business we had to do that night as well. andrew st. came to me and said what are you come over to my office after lunch today there are a few things i want to go over. i really thought i had a parasite which i pick up from time to time when i travel in the third world so i wasn't thinking much about it and dr. mike did have kind of a startled expression on his face. the head of internal medicine of mayo clinic came in as well and set out in front of a computer screen and began reading off numbers which sounded to me like an sat test. i didn't understand what he was talking about. then this is what happened. as he finished his play-by-play he turned to me, uttered a phrase for which i was
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completely unprepared, you have a malignancy he said. making no attempt to prepare me for what was coming, he points ahead saying it appeared i had to pull myeloma, the cancer of a plasma cells in the bone marrow adding, you know others have died from this. frank reynolds the abc anchorman, so so that's what he dido by thought. and joe ferrara jolting for our own the first woman to run for president of the united states, she lived with it for 12 years when the life expectancy was much shorter. it is treatable, but is treatable, but it is not curable. were making progress 50% of the progress has been made in the last five years, i want to review your record overnight to make sure we have this right. life expectancy i asked, he said statistically five years but we
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think you can beat that. frankly i appreciated that unconditional straightahead style, as a scientist in a different called discipline he was a numbers guy. he may have been absent today in his medical school class when they had a seminar bedside manners, but that was not so much an issue for me as it may have been brothers. i was a journalist, i was looking for facts not a cheerful disposition. i think all of us have wondered what we would happen when we heard that type of diagnosis, i quickly learned that i stay calm and initial thought was my family's going to be okay. we just had a review of our financial situation and i had the good fortune to be in a career that has paid me very well, my children were in good shape, they all have their own children, they are in parked on careers and meredith was a very good health. i wondered however how all of this would end.
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i knew i wouldn't get answered that day, the doctors said we want to review the test one more time, we will talk to the morning. so i walked out of this office, as calm as i could possibly be, as a journalist journalist looking in on tom brokaw the person's age shouldn't you be more angry, shouldn't you be more terrified, shouldn't you be more puzzled? in fact, i felt i was in the hands of the best possible hospital in the world, the mayo clinic, my family was going to be okay and what ever it took i was i was confident i could get the resources to deal with it. the next day they confirm the diagnosis. i did have my noma. i still didn't understand what i was in for so i got on a charter
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plane and went back to montana and didn't arrived until midnight of the second day. i had not yet told meredith because i didn't want her to know over the phone, we drove through the darkness of the wilderness areas of the mountain in montana back to our little ranch house and i portis diff joint and stat sat at the bedside and said there's something i haven't told you. i have a cancer and is called multiple myeloma and is going to change our lives. meredith gave me what i call her hard stare as if she couldn't quite absorb it. i went on to say to her we will get through this together as we have with everybody else and everything else but i have no idea how it's going ten. we hugged and with that long life of emotional connection and
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cal calibration we fell asleep in each other's arms. the next day, i did one of the dumbest things i had ever done. i woke up and the pain in my back had been reduced, i had made arrangements to go fishing with friends 155 miles away in montana. i jumped in the bag with i jumped in the car with a bag of ice on my back, by the second day i was curled up on in a friend's cabin and pain, i could barely breathe, we made our way back to the ranch. i still didn't tell my friends what i was going through, i was so immobilized by this pain that i would roll out of bed and crawl on my hands and knees to go to the bathroom not wanting to disturb anybody. the pain pills did no good
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whatsoever. i had to be medevac out of montana, we have great cowboy emts and montana. one was an ex- army ranger, they came up into our bedroom, a very narrow staircase much like the older homes in new hampshire, and they shot me full of demerol, load me into a evacuation chair, help me into the vehicle and drove me 60 miles. i was not in the best shape physically, we are now going i had a great gps and they got me through the trip and i got to the mayo clinic and there of course, i i was in the best chance possible. i was in transfer to new, i was handed off to a brilliant
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oncologist and a group of senior positions came in while i was there. what happened with doctors is they want to be reassuring, one things i write is out would rather have the hard truth than the reassurance. they said to the man, nine months from now time you're going to be out doing your old thing, that was kind of uplifting for me and it was dead wrong it turns out. i went through a really difficult time, i had four compression fractures in my spine that the dr. had missed and they are repaired with something called kyphoplasty, they put a needle in your spine and fill those fractures with cement. that was tough enough, meredith looked at me and said you remember when you said you used to be 6 feet 511, you now 59,
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you lost 2 inches in height. that was tough on my vanity. but we have a wicked sense in the brokaw family my daughters came back and stood eyeball to eyeball with me and said dad you're still the big man of the family. but you're a lot shorter than you used to be. that began a process that went on all through the winter months of 2013 and 2014, i was in and out of the hospital every week getting additional chemotherapy, adding an extra drug when i brought in a man by the name of ken anderson who is one of the great my myeloma specialists in the world. then i had a terrible fall in our house in upstate new york, it opened up an 8-inch gash over my left eye that went all the way to the skull.
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i began to think, where's that lucky star everyone was talking about? maybe it does have a dimmer switch. but switch. but what gave me courage to go on is that our youngest daughter had given birth to a fantastic first grandson of the family. i had been raised by many women. meredith, three daughters and two of those three daughters each had two girls and suddenly we got a boy. he came for christmas and our youngest daughter sarah said when i realized how sick you were dead, i was at first terrified and angry because he'll need you to teach them how to throw a small and how to fly fish and not too many years. that was more more motivation for me. i went through a long spring
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keeping this news from people as much as possible, only the senior people at nbc news new about it. i was continue to work but mostly on my laptop at home, finishing home, finishing a documentary on the 50th anniversary of john f. kennedy and preparing for other projects that i hoped i be able to do. when i was doing that documentary before i told anybody what was going on with me, i went on the david letterman show and on the jon stewart show to promote it. dave will have his final night tonight he's a very close friend, i, i told him the next morning, john is also a good friend but i do want to spread it on anymore so i just went on the show and it went well. then it came out that i had multiple myeloma. i i got an e-mail from john immediately, say you are one tough ass. oh. be. i had. i had no idea you had cancer. i said john there's no reason for me to trouble you with my difficulties.
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he wrote immediately back and set brokaw you cannot be jewish, if i had gas i would tell tell you about my difficulties. [laughter] i learned a lot about life during that uncertain time of going to the hospital two or three times a week, being confined confined to my bedroom more than i would have liked. i like to be more reflective, i learned as well the important lessons that most cancer patients, i believe, should be aware of. that's that's the reason i wrote the book. i wanted it to be kind of a guidebook for other cancer patients, for their families and for the medical community as well. i think there is things we can all learn. first of all, it's helpful if the physicians who diagnose you tell you what you're going to go through, don't sugarcoat it. take you aside you aside and say look, this is going to be tough, moreover it's going to be
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involved your family because of one member of the family has cancer, all members of the family get cancer. that happened to me and they responded magnificently. since magnificently. since then i've also said to other cancer victims get a dr. who is not involved directly in your case and make him or her your ombudsman. my daughter jennifer was that in spades. she was an interpreter, a notetaker, she asked the right questions at the right time, she got in my face when i thought i was going to be out more swiftly than i did. so i hope that this book will be, if you will, a kind of manual. it's been very heartening to me that since the book has came out and a documentary that we did last thursday night on nbc that
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of all my family as well, it's the first time they've ever been on television they always said dad that's your thing, were not going to do that. they thought this lesson was so important that they agreed to be on television and talk in a really personal and meaningful way about what it's like to have a lot to go through cancer and what their individual roles can be. i have these wonderful grandchildren including two who live in new york who are now seven and nine, we call them the hooligans. they go through life with an extraordinary amount of energy and only at high volume. so one day when i was not feeling well at all, they came barging into our house loud, it gregarious and excited about what they had just been learning. i called them into the bedroom and i said do you know the meaning of db? and they call me tom by the way
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because they've seen me on television first. it's really unsettling furs to have other people know that they say tom passed the food over here? and i said to them db is how we measure the volume of noise. about five days litters we came in and i was lying in my bed and they looked at me and said tom, were going to keep the db down today. [laughter] and in fact they did. now we have emerged into the sunshine because my cancer is in remission [applause]. and we hope that we can keep it there, what i have learned so much is not just the people to
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people aspect of being a cancer patient but also the medical miracles that are being performed every day. we are on the cusp in this country of making extraordinary progress in cancer, which has resisted everything we have thrown at it since the war on cancer has been emerged by a large. but now with all the great cancer centers in america, him you there p, gene therapy, taking genes out of our own body and retooling them and reinserting them, it's going to have a huge impact on cancer of all kinds, it will be very, very welcome. that work is being done late at night by technicians and laboratory experts of all kinds who come here from all over the world's because america still is the best nation and the greatest nation with the medical work that we have.
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so here i am, at 75 having celebrated 72 birthdays since having been diagnosed. this this is what i write at the end. has cancer change me? am i better person? that's for others to judge, and all i all i know is that in family access to excellent care, resources to pay for it, the chance to remain a journalist, and with a cohort of interesting friends i remain a lucky guy. so far at. so far the early reassurance of my condition is holding up, i will die someday but it's not likely to be the result of multiple mile and oma. i do think about mortality in ways i did not before the diagnosis, it no longer seems a faint distance reality, in part because i have explains the ruthless nature of cancer simultaneously at 75i i moved into that neighborhood of
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life in which there are few long-term leases. it is not enough to rage against the dying of the lights, it is is also a time to quietly savor the advantages of a lucky life and to use them to fill every waking moment with emotional and intellectual pursuits before the precious time we have left. life, what's left, bring it on. thank you all very much. [applause]. >> good evening everybody, how about that complete remission for tom brokaw. [applause].
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fantastic news, the dimmer switch is not completely dimmed on your lucky life. >> but i must say as well there are no guarantees with cancer, i had a friend who is going through cancer with, the life of a colleague and we're tracking with each other and i was having breakfast with his wife but midway through i'm sorry am terrible sorry she had a stroke and it make it. there are no assurances, and one thing t cancer treat teaches you is that is just that there are no guarantees. one of my friends said to me midway and said how is your tolerance for jerks? although he he used a more colorful term and i said at the point in my life i
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only deal people i care about. your fellow fellow new hampshire resident and a very close friend of mine, ken burns has done a documentary and it's about the beginning of cancer during the week ages and one of the oncologist and there said cancer doesn't care if your mother, father, or if you have children it only cares about waging a war in your body. host: never in your book do you seem to shake your fist at the sky and say why me. guest: we know you're not jewish guest: i'm a journalist on the outside looking in an why am i not saying why me? i thought i've had such a good life and this is an accident really of the composition of my body. then then i get a wonderful note from my friends
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who is with abc, and he he wrote to me sam donelson and he said and when sam writes it's like you can hear him talking. he said thomas, i know what know what you're thinking, why me? the better question at our age is why not me? and that's what we have to remember and it was a wonderfully generous generous note that put everything into perspective. he had survived a very severe case of melanoma and had gone through and all that. host: go back to that time when you first found out you are at the mayo clinic board meeting, it was two days before he saw your wife. i just heard you say so i thought i would sit down and look work on my jfk documentary script. that is like a black belt in cart compartmentalization i think, where did you get that? >> when i jump on an airplane and fly to afghanistan or rocker the berlin wall, i have lots of
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kinds of missions i have to do. i have to cover the story, i have to worry about whether we have everything in place to get the satellite ready, i have to worry about transportation and where were going to spend the night and if my colleagues are going to catch up with me tonight. so i am good at compartmentalizing. i knew we had to get that documentary done and we're closing in on the time. i didn't want to go home and just curl up in a fetal position in the hotel, i i thought if i work that would be distracting so i would work for a half an hour and then i would go to another computer and google multiple myeloma. and i thought what if there's something that's in there that would terrify me a better just deal with my doctors. a friend of mine called that night who feared something was
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up because i was not the board meeting and he came over and he was like brothers and he said i said ron i don't know where this is going to go and i was terrified that night for you. and now i feel so much better about it. so i had compartmentalized a lot of different things. i went to the board meeting but didn't tell my fellow board members, i had a report to do i did tell the head of the mayo clinic but that was it. i'm really more of a private person than most people think in terms of what's going on in my life. i'm always poking and discussing public lives but i don't want people missing in my life. spee1 you're not in over share, like we can tell from this book. you. you seem to have this inability to over share. guest: one of the things i do, i have friends have encouraged me to write the stories that i tell. and i said your their better in
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the telling them they are the writing. my stories are never about me, there about somebody else or if there about me on mocking myself. for as long as i remember i been doing that and that's how i became a journalist quite honestly. i see everything around me in a journalistic sense. sense. this theater i think when was this built and who are the people who came here, what was it like in the early days of the rocky shores of new hampshire? i'm constantly turning that over in my mind and what makes my wife crazy is that i have a constantly moving film of my life. i can remember what someone said to me in the second grey, true story, what a what a teacher friend said to me because it may be vanity but i thought if i was involved it must be important. laughmac. host: any of's of's still been married for 53 years. you have that much of a memory. guest: she's opposite she's cool, compartmentalized,
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anything that requires great organization. i'm the bombastic type. host: what seems to be working pretty well. in the book you write about your suddenly in the mortality zone, your suddenly aware of your immortality. it struck me that you have been in the aftermath of earthquakes, disasters, and interview dictators and so much of your reporting has been about wars and not just political words but actual wars and actual dangers and see that you have existed in a mortality zone for a long time. it is interesting you don't see yourself in that book. spee2 why think i was successful and that is because i didn't didn't think it would happen to me. i did go in there with a big fear factor. one of my friends wrote to me today and we've been all over the world of the worst possible places and he wrote something about me and then he just said
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you always had been a little bit nutty tom and we have to deal with that but i'll push the envelope to see if we can go over that hill. i remember when i was in pakistan a few years ago during the earthquake and there is a military installation there and they decided navy officer to me and he was a lieutenant commander and he said you guys are nuts. i'm not going where you're going and he went back to the headquarters. [laughter] host: someone is asking about your career, growing up in l.a. you're familiar site to set. i left l.a. and was surprised to see you later in the national news, what intrigued you the most, the events of 1968 or watergate? guest: will 1960 it was one of those great years that will always be in the chapters of
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history books because counterculture kicked in at that time. it's when johnson stepped down, bobby kennedy and dr. king was killed, we we had the rights in chicago. it led to the election of richard nixon and then his reelection by a landslide proportions. richard nixon was always his own worst enemy and it became the greatest political scandal in u.s. history in which he was forced to reside. so i couldn't say one or the other was more important, they were part of a piece and i was again looking to be in the middle both of those as a journalist. speed. host: you also look at 1989 and this is the year you're the only network newscaster who was at the berlin wall. and it all began with a tip from a friend in it? guest: it did but we didn't
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think the wall was going to come down. without a lot was happening in the east and there's not much going on here so let's go there. my motto as a journalist has always been it's never a mistake to go. just get on the airplane ago, something will happen. [laughter] so i didn't think i would base daddy there when the berlin came down but it came down the second day we're there, almost by accident. in fact east german officials who made the announcement turns out it was a mistake the way he made the announcement, i am now rushing over to the wall, we have satellite capacity and i'm thinking as a journalist well my god there's no bigger story in the war, this is the symbolic end of the cold war. and i'm looking around bbc doesn't have any they're not even german television had the live capacity, we were the only one. i'm a big outdoorsman so i had kind of a ratty coat so i don't want to offend anyone it was a
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ratty l.l. bean coat. i had it for a long time and it really looked pretty awful, i was up there getting ready and i looked out on the monitor and i said to myself this videotape is going to be around forever and i looked off to my right and one of my colleagues had just came from london who just bought himself a beautiful blue cashmere top coat and i said give me a coat right now, and he did and i gave them my coat so i looked to splendid at the berlin wall let me tell you. [laughter] host: will you been there for so many events, you are the first to interview gorbachev, the first to do a network human rights abuse report with was going on in tibet and you interviewed the dalai lama, so many first for 911 you say some of your most memorable interviews are like those with
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appears family of vermont whose son was dealing with a head injury. injury. really how can that be? guest: i think those are the most important interviews that i have done and there a classic example of that i remember 2000 people people looking in on the worst possible conditions, they are all black people and they were living in cardboard boxes, there's one dr. and he was a white man from a prominent work-family in johannesburg. he had broken away from his family and he came to work with these people and he just was risking himself, disease was ever wear but he was working 23 hours a hours a day trying to keep people alive. but the pierces as many of you azeri know about them, first of all the father is one of the glass artisans in the world and they have these wonderful boys
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and one was a world-class snowboarder and frankly he had a good shot at a gold metal. he had a traumatic head injury when he took a bad fall before the olympics in vancouver, halfway through the olympics we been staying in touch with them and they said for the first time were encouraged that he was going to survive and if you wanted to come down and see him now would be the time. i jumped on an airplane and flew to denver where he was in this rehab facility, i was overwhelmed by the quality of the family pulling this young man across the line and making him well again. his brothers are so emotional saying you don't know what it's like to go in and see your brother and not know whether he's going to make it or not. kevin later said i grew to hate my brothers because they push me so hard in rehab. the youngest son has down syndrome and he was going up and down the hallways grabbing every
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dr. and saying that's my brother, you you have to say my brother. then kevin and the father and mother were so appropriate in their motion send we didn't know how this is going to turn out i called back to vancouver to the olympic coverage and when the limp etc. that's what people want to see so it's hard to break away from them and i said prime time tomorrow night we have to do this story, it's it's about family and values and it's also about athletes but family values first. everybody watching will be terribly moved by this so you settle cal take your word for it. we went back and get the broadcast in order and i was on with bob costas and he said i think i should see it and i want you to see it first and react to it. the broadcast.
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and bob for me for the first time in his life he was speechless for about two minutes. and that's the kind of thing that keeps me going quite honestly. host: you made those calls, that was your job is managing editor and anchorman at nbc. guest: in that case i have this odd line in the sports department they want me to do this essays, i did essays on canada, and cineaste really we found a guy who rescued jfk i'm entering the olympics in greece we found an african-american who should've won the noble of honor and world war ii but he didn't. we put that on the year so this last olympics i could go to associate, we, we made it look like i was there but we do the cosmonauts and astronauts who were together on the u.s. space programs. dick and i were close and so he trust me, if if i said we should
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really put this on that he trusted that. his whole mission was to do the alembic's but he said okay i get it and it really worked very well's. host: isn't that announced when you had cancer during the sochi coverage? guest: i kept it secret from almost everyone, a couple of my closest friends figured out and then i got told them because i got tired of lying. host: why did you keep it secret. guest: i didn't want to be on the internet i didn't want it to people that say tom brokaw has cancer cancer was again and i wanted to be able to go up and down the streets of new york and my own way without people pointing at me saying that has cancer. here in the northeast i'll tell you a story about what helped keep me going areas in the fall of 2013 we 13 we had a terrible winter, it was icy and sleepy,
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and snowy. i was in tough shape i forced myself out of bed in the morning and i don't want to show up in the streets with a cane or walker so i would stumble down the street and 79th street to a coffee shop to get a bagel. there is this enormous poster on 79th street at a bus drop with of tom brady he was advertising boots. he was every inch tom brady staring down 79th street with that pitch perfect space of his and that great body and everything. i walked up to it and looked at it and i would say something i can't repeat in public. [laughter] it would kinda give me a left. [laughter] i would keep on going and i later met him a year later we're both guess of under armour.
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so he came over and and i said no i watch you for a long time and he and i said i have cancer and he said on sorry and i said no you help me so i told him the story so he just roared with laughter. now i'm a giants and but he kind of won me over and i made a bet on him on the super bowl all by god they pulled it off. [applause]. host: what made you decide to go public the to tell the world? guest: somebody got it first, one of the they went to nbc and they went to nbc and we had been expecting it, by then where well into it it was like seven or eight months. and bc put out out one of
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wonderful segment about how their confident that i will recover and and i said yes in fact we have multiple myeloma and were concentrating on the treatment and i would like to continue to do that a privacy please. i was treated extremely well, there a few on cnn and a couple other places they do quick descriptions about what is multiple my little mama and then new york be in new york we there longer than anywhere else if i went out after that cops would say mystery are you gonna be okay? and i would sam going to be okay. and other people would ask me that as well. there's a coffee shop around the corner and i get very dehydrated with all the drugs, i would walk my dog at night and about 8:50 p.m., they close at 9:00 p.m. and i would come back
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around the block with my dog and they would have a strawberry shake ready for me so i could take it back to the house. so so i was treated very well. host: you had excellent medical care and at the beginning you are on something that was like $500 a day. guest: it was actually a thousand dollars a day, it was $500 per dollars per pill and two pills a day. now if somebody is in their 40s and there on medicare and there on it different place in life it's very difficult. i had excellent coverage from my days with 50 years with nbc so i have a terrific health care plan and that's not available to everyone. host: will you do you wonder several times throughout the book what if i were a farmer in kansas? what if i were single mink single working mother not someone like you with great resources to cover, and also
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with the connections you have. are you in remission because you are tom brokaw? guest: i am in remission because i have the right chromosomes in the right dna. i think a lot of these hospitals do take in cases of valid they say they'll work things out. in my case we didn't know going in about what my internal composition was in a turned out being right. they kept throwing drugs at me and there is an notorious drug that was banned in the 50s but pharmacologists figured out that it was a good antidote to blood conditions. so i started with that and then they added another drug which as doctor anderson said were gonna
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go to war tom. were going to pump it up because you can handle it. i didn't have to do stem cell, they did extract stem cell from a but i didn't have to go through all that. let me just say parenthetically we have eight doctors in my family by the way, my wife so side of the family are physicians. i've done three documentaries in the medical field but until you're injected into that field yourself you have no keen appreciation of how important the people at the bottom are, the nurses, the technicians, the people who come in to make sure you're comfortable. i made a lot of friends during all of this. i went back and talk to some of them and didn't know what to expect to hear you are tom brokaw and here you're asking where did i go to medical school and so i tried connecting with them because i so admired what they're doing.
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host: besides recommending people getting ombudsman or jennifer in your situation you encourage people to be educated and upfront about their pain and don't be silly. how about you, do, do take your own advice on that? guest: while i was too stoic in describing my pain, i have a high threshold i'm not bragging that just comes with my physiology. when i had the back issue the evasive radiologist said on a scale of one to 10i would say about two or three. my daughter would be behind me rolling her eyes and my wife would be saying is much worse than that. he said you had a severe spinal fracture in your tell me your three. we need you to complain and the act colleges said complain, that's how we find out. part of the role of the dr. by the way is they can tell the physician
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to physician what you're not able to tell them in a way. jennifer would say look, dad was in a lot of pain last night we don't know where it came from. or there something called night sweats that comes with cancer, these things, things, go how can we deal with that? so she was an interpreter for the physician. what i suggested to healthcare facilities is to try to get some abboud's men in the department so if families come in and they don't have anything you can give them here's a card of the guy he's a retired dr. in the area he could try helping you translate all this. or have a scorecard that says here's what you can expect. most clinicians make the diagnosis and then do a u-turn and then try to figure out how to deal with it. they don't take time to talk about what you're going to go through. i think healthcare has to be more holistic than it is.
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i need to talk about, look this is going to be tough and bring the family in and you're gone all have to sit down and decide what your roles are. there is a movement in that direction primarily from young physicians now because they're much more interested in healing than just making big bucks and working weekends to make the big bucks. so that's what i hope the book will do as well. host: reading this book i can't help but think we as a family we watch nbc nightly news, with brinkley huntley before you and so for us we gathered around, you brought credibility to stories. you made them real for us as far as i was concerned you are the voice of god making things real. spee2 you better check with my family few believe i believe i was the voice of
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god. [laughter] host: but now is that with his book about is if tom brokaw gets cancer than you can get cancer, and everybody can get cancer. guest: people are diagnosed with cancer every year and what's been astonishing to me is since i wrote the book i'm hearing from families and cancer patients with all kinds of cancer, it's a very senior admiral in the defense department that has cancer that got in touch with me at the football coach on the dallas cowboys got in touch with me, other families who have multiple myelin oma talk about how they have a different regiment than i do in their sharing that for me. then i'm hearing as well from clinicians who are wanting to know how i reacted to the addition to the other drugs because it really is a
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consulting game. it's really a team sport dealing with cancer and everybody has to share what they know. i described dr. anderson doctor anderson as my coach an offense of coordinator and heather landau as my quarterback. she's moving the place down the field making decisions conferring with dr. anderson in between them they decide what's best. the man who diagnosed me thought that i should have stem cell, he still believes that stem cell is the best insurance but doctor anderson and heather said great progress on drugs alone, we'll beat beat it with drugs alone and they were right. host: number of questions about the brian williams situation and what impact it will have on nightly news reporters. i'm told you because that all
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you like to say on that. guest: i've asked for forbearance on this this is a serious issue and its ears for brian and his family for nbc news. we have a process in place and is moving forward and there will be a resolution. exactly when, i can't say. but i don't want to prejudge anything what is been a little bit maddening is that with all those media sites out there, everybody thinks they know when things were attributed to me there were completely wrong with my relationship to brian. when he first took the job i was the guy who kinda got him in that place. he had a different view of journalism than i do, that's not unusual and i stayed back from that, and he was extremely good on the air. there are issues that have to be dealt with in the process is in place to deal with it. host: how about you, would you like to be the network news anchor in the age of twitter, and think and of calling the 2000 election of al gore early
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in the evening. guest: weight. host: i mean now would that be forgiven? guest: i think it was even forgiven then, the chaos was in the system. we were making this up, we're doing the best we could. when we said it was al gore than carl rowe came out on the ground in the and i said to him if they think they have problems there's probably reason for that we better be careful about this. and when it looked like or have lost on the way to the memorial in nashville, then it came back toward and bill bailey the campaign manager called me and said what the hell is going on and i said you tell me i don't know at this point. finally at three in the morning i said we don't have egg in our
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phase, we we have omelettes on her suit. host: what force do you rely on for accurate news? guest: i am quite universal, i read the major newspapers, the wall street journal, the washington post. i go on my to reach the financial times in london. that's a nether way of how we are so lucky with having all these new sources at the click of a button. and then i breeze through the political sites, red states, all the way from the far left to the far right i want to note their same. i read political faithfully,
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it's a very good political cheat sheet as it were. they have very smart reporters who are doing the overnight thing about what did hillary say today and is that going to hold up. how did jeb how did jeb get in so much trouble? what's going on in new hampshire at this moment? i'm then i just canna do it all day long. i have a network of friends out there that i'm in touch with and we have exchanges back and forth were not a very large group, the old political journalists and would like to stay in touch with each other. host: i love this question, why aren't are you on the letterman show? guest: i don't know what's going to happen, david and i have been very close for a long time. he's
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kept the storytime i was on his first show when he went to cbs. we've been talking back and forth about a few things, i few things, i did send him an e-mail today saying david, tonight all the eyes of america will be on you. the departure of an icon, i've been so proud to be your friend but if you screw this up i'll never talk to you again. [laughter] host: will tom brokaw perhaps it's odd for me to be eking to an icon of journalism, breaking a journalistic rule and say i'm so grateful for what you have done for my father and so many people who are members of the greatest generation who i think you gave permission to speak about their experience and dignity to qualify their experience. i'm just asked dreamily grateful that you've done that for him and many others i know there's there's been a lot of criticism for it. [applause]. you become a sort of us folks
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meant for the greatest generation in many ways. is this going to make you a spokesman for the cancer story? guest: no i don't want it to, and as matter fact i said i said to someone i'm not equipped to be a spokesman for cancer. but let me back up on two points. i'm now at that place where what happens if you get labeled with something that gets picked up to repeated so i am now described as the legendary tom brokaw or the iconic tom brokaw. i re- member not so long ago when i described as the baby faced tom brokaw so i don't take it all too seriously. the greatest generation, what i did was open the door, i'm not there spokesman, they speak so eloquently for themselves. what either very early on is to stand back and let them speak. i was at this 70th anniversary of d-day he had been thrown into
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the job and the ramps were stealing their up like this and they landed in a particularly hot spot and a german machine gun lit honed in on it and he said was like a typewriter and everybody was crouched down. and they said to drop the ramp and he didn't do it because he knew they were going to be going face-to-face with a german machine-gun or. the yelled at him again and he didn't do it so finally the guy through his pistol so i had no choice but to drop that and only three guys got ashore. there's a myth, when my men are dying on the beach and their crying out to the lord or their god, their crying out to their mothers. i that's most delicate thing
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that can possibly imagine that landed on d-day and that is a sense of the chaos of the choices that had to be made that day and what i was was just the transmission for that. guest. host: thank you. before i officially think you'd let us just think all of the people who made this site possible. the music hall producer, new hampshire public radio, our digital producer, the production manager, and the recording engineer, musical director, the broadcast answer for tonight's harbor capital.


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