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A Lucky Life Interrupted

Cover of A Lucky Life Interrupted

A Lucky Life Interrupted

A Memoir of Hope
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From Tom Brokaw, the bestselling author of The Greatest Generation, comes a powerful memoir of a year of dramatic change—a year spent battling cancer and reflecting on a long, happy, and lucky life.
Tom Brokaw has led a fortunate life, with a strong marriage and family, many friends, and a brilliant journalism career culminating in his twenty-two years as anchor of the NBC Nightly News and as bestselling author. But in the summer of 2013, when back pain led him to the doctors at the Mayo Clinic, his run of good luck was interrupted. He received shocking news: He had multiple myeloma, a treatable but incurable blood cancer. Friends had always referred to Brokaw's "lucky star," but as he writes in this inspiring memoir, "Turns out that star has a dimmer switch."
Brokaw takes us through all the seasons and stages of this surprising year, the emotions, discoveries, setbacks, and struggles—times of denial, acceptance, turning points, and courage. After his diagnosis, Brokaw began to keep a journal, approaching this new stage of his life in a familiar role: as a journalist, determined to learn as much as he could about his condition, to report the story, and help others facing similar battles. That journal became the basis of this wonderfully written memoir, the story of a man coming to terms with his own mortality, contemplating what means the most to him now, and reflecting on what has meant the most to him throughout his life.
Brokaw also pauses to look back on some of the important moments in his career: memories of Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the morning of September 11, 2001, in New York City, and more. Through it all, Brokaw writes in the warm, intimate, natural voice of one of America's most beloved journalists, giving us Brokaw on Brokaw, and bringing us with him as he navigates pain, procedures, drug regimens, and physical rehabilitation. Brokaw also writes about the importance of patients taking an active role in their own treatment, and of the vital role of caretakers and coordinated care.
Generous, informative, and deeply human, A Lucky Life Interrupted offers a message of understanding and empowerment, resolve and reality, hope for the future and gratitude for a well-lived life.
Praise for A Lucky Life Interrupted
"It's impossible not to be inspired by Brokaw's story, and his willingness to share it."Los Angeles Times
"A powerful memoir of battling cancer and facing mortality . . . Through the prism of his own illness, Brokaw looks at the larger picture of aging in America."Booklist (starred review)
"Moving, informative and deeply personal."—The Daily Beast
"The former NBC News anchor has applied the fact-finding skills and straightforward candor that were his stock in trade during his reporting days to A Lucky Life Interrupted."USA Today
"Brokaw doesn't paste a smiley face on his story. Again and again, the book returns to stories of loss but also of grace, luck and the beauty of having another swing at bat."The Washington Post
"Engaging . . . [with] the kind of insight that is typical of Mr. Brokaw's approach to life and now to illness."The Wall Street Journal
"Powerful and courageous . . . [Brokaw] looks ahead to the future with hope."Bookreporter
"Wryly good-natured . . . a wise and oddly comforting look at the toughest news of all."Kirkus Reviews
From the Hardcover edition.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From Tom Brokaw, the bestselling author of The Greatest Generation, comes a powerful memoir of a year of dramatic change—a year spent battling cancer and reflecting on a long, happy, and lucky life.
Tom Brokaw has led a fortunate life, with a strong marriage and family, many friends, and a brilliant journalism career culminating in his twenty-two years as anchor of the NBC Nightly News and as bestselling author. But in the summer of 2013, when back pain led him to the doctors at the Mayo Clinic, his run of good luck was interrupted. He received shocking news: He had multiple myeloma, a treatable but incurable blood cancer. Friends had always referred to Brokaw's "lucky star," but as he writes in this inspiring memoir, "Turns out that star has a dimmer switch."
Brokaw takes us through all the seasons and stages of this surprising year, the emotions, discoveries, setbacks, and struggles—times of denial, acceptance, turning points, and courage. After his diagnosis, Brokaw began to keep a journal, approaching this new stage of his life in a familiar role: as a journalist, determined to learn as much as he could about his condition, to report the story, and help others facing similar battles. That journal became the basis of this wonderfully written memoir, the story of a man coming to terms with his own mortality, contemplating what means the most to him now, and reflecting on what has meant the most to him throughout his life.
Brokaw also pauses to look back on some of the important moments in his career: memories of Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the morning of September 11, 2001, in New York City, and more. Through it all, Brokaw writes in the warm, intimate, natural voice of one of America's most beloved journalists, giving us Brokaw on Brokaw, and bringing us with him as he navigates pain, procedures, drug regimens, and physical rehabilitation. Brokaw also writes about the importance of patients taking an active role in their own treatment, and of the vital role of caretakers and coordinated care.
Generous, informative, and deeply human, A Lucky Life Interrupted offers a message of understanding and empowerment, resolve and reality, hope for the future and gratitude for a well-lived life.
Praise for A Lucky Life Interrupted
"It's impossible not to be inspired by Brokaw's story, and his willingness to share it."Los Angeles Times
"A powerful memoir of battling cancer and facing mortality . . . Through the prism of his own illness, Brokaw looks at the larger picture of aging in America."Booklist (starred review)
"Moving, informative and deeply personal."—The Daily Beast
"The former NBC News anchor has applied the fact-finding skills and straightforward candor that were his stock in trade during his reporting days to A Lucky Life Interrupted."USA Today
"Brokaw doesn't paste a smiley face on his story. Again and again, the book returns to stories of loss but also of grace, luck and the beauty of having another swing at bat."The Washington Post
"Engaging . . . [with] the kind of insight that is typical of Mr. Brokaw's approach to life and now to illness."The Wall Street Journal
"Powerful and courageous . . . [Brokaw] looks ahead to the future with hope."Bookreporter
"Wryly good-natured . . . a wise and oddly comforting look at the toughest news of all."Kirkus Reviews
From the Hardcover edition.
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  • From the cover chapter 1



    Summer

    In the seasons of life I have had more than my share of summers.

    A long run of sunny days and adventurous nights filled with lucky stars, uninterrupted by great personal calamity, rewarding in ways I could not have imagined in those formative years on the Great Plains. Our eldest daughter, Jennifer, reflecting her training as an emergency room physician, was along for the ride, but she worried.

    "Dad," she would say, "we've never had anything go really wrong in our family. I wonder if we could handle it."

    We were about to find out.

    In February 2013, I turned seventy-­three, or, more accurately, blew through the birthday, ignoring the actuarial truths that I was now in a mortality zone defined by age. What, me? After all, I spent the beginning of the seventy-­third year biking hard through Chile and Argentina with some contemporaries. In the spring, I had flown to Africa to report on Nelson Mandela's final days and to accompany my wife, Meredith, to Malawi, where she has worked with a women's cooperative to establish a thriving business producing canned tomatoes.

    We finished up at a lodge in Zimbabwe, bumping through the bush on wildlife excursions and, for Meredith, morning horseback rides. I started the day with swimming exercises, hoping to relieve what had become a persistent lower back pain.

    I attributed it to long plane rides and an active lifestyle. If it didn't get better I planned to see a renowned orthopedist when I returned to New York, a sports medicine doc who, over the years, had treated me for similar ailments after a summer of rock climbing, backpacking, trekking, long-­distance running, and bushwhacking to remote mountain lakes.

    Probably require some therapy, I thought, never considering it could be anything more than an overexercised back. The conceit of a long, lucky life is that bad things happen to others. Jennifer's cautionary line about whether we could handle misfortune was provocative, and yet it seemed more of a group therapy subject than reality in our family.

    Not for the first time, I was wrong, but in early summer I had no idea what was to come. I was determined to work through the steady, nagging pain and spend July and August on the trout waters of Montana.

    That New York orthopedist, who's a longtime friend and familiar with my physical activities, ordered a conventional spinal X ray and, after examining it, reported that apart from some expected thinning of a lower-­level disc no major anomalies showed up. He recommended more morning stretching exercises and over-­the-­counter pain relievers.

    I happily plunged into my fishing schedule but then, inexplicably, took two hard falls, one on a rocky passage across my Montana home stream and one while in a boat on the Missouri River. What the hell, I thought, is this what happens when you hit seventy-­three?

    The back pain continued, resisting what I hoped would be the therapeutic effects of more stretching, Tylenol, massages, and limited golf and biking.

    Besides, we had more to worry about in our extended family. Jennifer called to report that her mother-­in-­law, Lynne Fry, had been hospitalized with acute abdominal pain. Jennifer and her husband, Allen Fry, a radiologist, were on a second honeymoon when they got the call, and Jennifer immediately said that it didn't look good. They arrived at the hospital to hear the diagnosis: Lynne had a massive tumor on her pancreas. Pancreatic cancer is particularly lethal. Three weeks later she was gone.

    Lynne was seventy-­five, a small-­town school librarian who had moved to the San Francisco...
About the Author-
  • Tom Brokaw is the author of six bestsellers: The Greatest Generation, The Greatest Generation Speaks, An Album of Memories, Boom!, The Time of Our Lives, and A Long Way from Home. A native of South Dakota, he graduated from the University of South Dakota with a degree in political science. He began his journalism career in Omaha and Atlanta before joining NBC News in 1966. Brokaw was the White House correspondent for NBC News during Watergate, and from 1976 to 1981 he anchored Today on NBC. He was the sole anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw from 1983 to 2005. He continues to report for NBC News, producing long-form documentaries and providing expertise during breaking news events. Brokaw has won every major award in broadcast journalism, including two DuPonts, three Peabody Awards, and several Emmys, including one for lifetime achievement. In 2014, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He lives in New York and Montana.
Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Using his personal journal as a source, former "NBC Nightly News" anchor Tom Brokaw discusses his recent experiences with the treatable but incurable blood cancer multiple myeloma. Mark Bramhall provides a clear, crisp narration that is both welcoming and comforting--an approach that works well given the emotionally difficult nature of the material. Brokaw also reviews some of the key points in his life and career, moments that are carried off with aplomb in Bramhall's strong performance. The lessons of his experience are worth hearing--specifically that surviving a grave diagnosis is significantly assisted by a "Cadillac" health insurance plan, a supportive family, and considerable financial resources. Bramhall keeps the candid story going with appropriate vigor. W.A.G. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine
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A Lucky Life Interrupted
A Lucky Life Interrupted
A Memoir of Hope
Tom Brokaw
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