It has been a long road for Tom Brokaw who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a rare and incurable type of cancer that causes bone pain, in August 2013. And now that he’s in remission, he’s revealing that his cancer treatments are costing him quite a lot of money every day.
“An extraordinary amount of progress has been made with drugs and treatment. We haven’t gotten the cost thing worked out yet,” the legendary journalist, 79, told SurvivorNet in an interview. “At one point, I counted up the price and it was something like $10,000 a day, you know, that I was spending on drugs. I have the blessing of having a great program through first RCA, then GE, and now Comcast. So the checks that I write for pharmacy are very, very small. And it makes — every time I do that, it makes me aware of the people who are not in the same position that I am, and how I think about them.”
The Nightly NBC News alum also understands how lucky he is to have the options that other people in his position do not have. “That was … part of the blessing of my life is that I could pick up the phone and call the Mayo Clinic (where he started treatment), and they would make room and send a plane right now,” he explained. “99.9 percent of the people who get involved in this kind of a situation don’t have those opportunities … I’m keenly aware of that.”
Today, The Greatest Generation author says he still has back pain, although he’s begun using medical marijuana to help. “I’ve not done that before,” Tom said of smoking marijuana. “But in Florida, it’s complex. And I’m unraveling it full-time.” And yet, Tom is still trying to figure out how the true cost of cancer treatment, and reveals that a change has to be made.
“How do we deal with this as a culture? Not the politics of it, but as a culture,” he said. “We have the ability to do it. We have the greatest resources in the world. Let’s figure out how we can make it cost effective, how we can have a true testing program for efficiency and results, and that people will have access to those results.”
And while his battle continues, Tom still has a positive outlook. “I’m not dwelling on this cancer all the time. I’ve got a fatal cancer. I don’t — I don’t wake up thinking that way,” he said. “In less than a year, I’ll be 80 years old. I’m finding that hard to believe, quite honestly. And I think even without cancer, turning 80 might have been a little more tricky than I thought it was going to be.”
Stay strong, Tom!