Legendary newsman Tom Brokaw, America’s straight-laced anchor for the past half-century, is medical cannabis’s latest advocate.
The 79-year-old NBC correspondent is in remission from multiple myeloma, but says that the pain has been so “excruciating,” he’s resorted to an alternative pain fix embraced by a growing number of cancer patients.
“I’m now on medical marijuana,” Brokaw reveals in a video released Tuesday on SurvivorNet, a cancer information site. Brokaw is a resident of Florida, one of the 33 states that allow medical marijuana.
Brokaw was diagnosed with the disease, which causes cancer cells to cluster in bone marrow, in 2013. Soon after the diagnosis, he had to be med-evacked to the Mayo Clinic as the cancer made its way through his pelvic bone. Years of treatment — including chemotherapy and a spinal operation — got the cancer under control, but left him with lasting pain in his bones, he says.
The demand for more information on medical marijuana is exploding in recent years, says SurvivorNet’s CEO Steve Alperin. Having someone like Brokaw come out with his experience will “help people understand there are alternative approaches to pain management,” Alperin says.
Brokaw’s usage mirrors a growing number of cancer patients who use the substance for symptoms like pain. In a report out Tuesday in the Journal of Palliative Medicine, researchers from NYU say that cancer patients were more likely to favor forms of medical marijuana with higher amounts of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), rather than the more readily available, non-psychoactive CBD (cannabidiol).
Researchers say the growing interest from cancer patients highlights the need to further study the substance’s side effects, risks and benefits.
Either way, Brokaw says the relief will help him to not just maintain his quality of life, but enjoy it, too.
“I didn’t want my friends coming around and wringing their hands — I didn’t want to be the victim,” Brokaw says. Now, he’s making plans to travel with his children and grandchildren.
“I’ve been a very lucky guy,” he says in the video. “We’ve had a great life. And I want it to go on.”