The Daily Nightly from NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams

About this blog

The Daily Nightly began on May 31, 2005. As Brian wrote in his first post it aims to provide a narrative of the broadcast day and a window into the editorial process at NBC Nightly News. Brian weighs in every weekday and NBC News correspondents and producers post regularly.

Brian Williams became the seventh anchor and managing editor in the history of NBC Nightly News on December 2, 2004. Read his full biography.

A special guest

Tonight's broadcast has health news of interest to millions of heart patients. We have an update on the Tillman case, and we will substantially advance the story involving Attorney General Gonzales.  We have a fine piece on global warming, an explainer of today's child care story in the news, and an unusual look at the war in Iraq.  We also have a look at this day in the life of Elizabeth Edwards, on the campaign trail after being in the news these past several days following the announcement of the return of her breast cancer.

This next item is related.  We are today, as members of the Nightly News family, prepared to share a bit of a "family secret" regarding one of our own.  My friend and colleague Anne Thompson has written something, which I post below with her permission, which has to do with the topic in the news these past few days.


Cancer isn't about dying, it is about living.
I know, I've been living with cancer for the past year, and you've been watching me.
A year ago, this month, March 31 to be exact, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  They labeled it stage 3 because of its size. It wasn't a lump, but rather like a piece of risotto -- elliptical in shape.
The first pathologist recommended I go straight to mastectomy, but I wanted options.

I attacked my cancer like it was a story -- learning everything I could, finding the best experts, and most importantly finding options. The tests showed I won the cancer trifecta: surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. The only choice I had was what order in which to have them. Determined to save my breast, I chose to have chemotherapy first, surgery, then radiation.

Work was also part of the cure. It gave me purpose. It made me feel normal. 30 Rock became my cancer-free zone. I didn't tell many people because I was scared. I didn't know what was going to happen. I had lost control. I didn't know what the future held. In truth, I didn't know if I had a future.

Chemo took my long blonde hair. I replaced it with two wigs, nicknamed "mata hari" after the glamorous World War I spy. Chemo took my eyebrows. I replaced them with wax and powder. Then it took my eyelashes, so I wore false ones. But what it couldn't take -- what cancer couldn't take -- was my desire to report. Or my desire to live.

Chemo also took all the cancer. My hair, as you can see has come back, and my desire to report is as strong as ever.

You can live with cancer --  millions do. Quiet battles that never make headlines, but are remarkable nonetheless. It is a battle you cannot fight alone. My sister Mary was my rock. My brother, Bill, my bald buddy. He shaved his head. My brother, Jim, my comic relief. My mum was determined to be the mother of the year, but couldn't stop herself from doing a little reconnaissance at Bloomingdale's as I slept through one of my chemo treatments.

And I have remarkable friends, many of whom work on this broadcast. They sat through chemo, wig appointments, any number of tests, and kept me laughing.

I am told I am cancer free, but I don't think you ever really are. The fear is always there, but it is not nearly as strong as the desire to live.   

There are few words to add to the above example of the humanity and courage of our friend Annie.  She has been a marvel to watch.  We were as impressed with her strength during the worst times as we are elated now with her best-possible bill of health.  It is a joy to be able to publish her story here.  It's wonderful to have her as a colleague.  We will see Anne tonight from the Everglades in Florida.

This week here in New York, all of the living Medal of Honor recipients who are able to make the trip are here in the city for a semi-annual meeting.  I'm honored to be able to emcee their dinner, but the gathering comes on the heels of an awful loss.  As the New York Times chronicled today, Medal of Honor Recipient Jay Zeamer died last Thursday. Captain Zeamer was a B-17 pilot in the Pacific Campaign.  In October of 1942, a shell burst inside his aircraft, and he was wounded in all four extremities with of his legs was broken.  He kept flying, stayed at the controls, shot down several Japanese planes, evaded several others, and landed his aircraft safely.  He was one of the greatest members of the Greatest Generation, and he will be missed.  His death leaves us with 111 living recipients.

If you have HDTV, you'll notice the broadcast has a few more details tonight, visually, that is.  This is our HD debut tonight, and as I said Friday evening: for those without HD, we should look the same.  I don't quite know of anything to do differently, so here goes nothing.

I have a board meeting of the Medal of Honor Society that will be in progress during the time I would normally post.  Tomorrow's post will be brief if I can muster one at all.  Apologies, but duty calls.

We hope you can join us for tonight's broadcast of NBC Nightly News.

Read more from Brian Williams 2007

MAIN PAGE NEXT POST Early Nightly is up

Email this EMAIL THIS


Anne, You truly are an inspiration to all of us. As a breast cancer survivor myself, I feel my fight has only made me stronger. From your words, it seems it has been the same for you. Best of luck to you!

Dear Ann,
Just saw you on the Today News and noted your hair looked very much like mine. I thought I remembered my husband telling me that you had breast cancer but wasnt sure. So I looked it up. I was diagnosed last June. With a stage 2 due to the size. I had a chemotherapy, lumpectomy, sentinel node biopsy which was negative, radiation, and am now on Tamoxifen. The chemo was difficult with the lousy was it made me feel two days after the chemo but the thing that was emotionally difficult for me was when I started loosing my hair. I was hurt and angry and felt very ugly. I decided not to let the chemo take my hair and one Sunday morning, I went on the deck and shaved my head. I needed control of something. The wigs I tried made me feel like a clown, so I wore a baseball cap. Today my hair looks very much like yours and I have never had curly hair. I am told it will go back to straight. I dont have the stamina I once had but I can accept that. I wish you well as we go thru life with this new challenge.
Take care, Nancy Spencer Thibodeau

Hi Anne, It's been a long time since our days at ND!Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers and I applaud your strength in making a private battle very public. If even one more person is persuaded to seek care, then you've done a great job. My family has had to deal with cancer a few too many times, and I know that family, friends, and positive thoughts (and yes, some gallows humor) helped us. When I return to ND next weekend, I'll light a candle at the Grotto for you. Keep fighting the good fight!

Hi Anne. Long time since college, no? I just heard about your health issues and want you to know my mom had breast cancer when I was a freshman in high school, and she is alive and kicking and exercises every day with her group of golden oldies, so you will be fine. Especially with all the prayers that must be flooding your way since you let your loyal viewers know the reason for your haircut. Best wishes for your continued good health! I am sure Patti DeCoste Guido shares my thoughts. Marybeth Dougherty, Hinsdale, Illinois

Anne, I had missed you a I watched you regularly in Detroit and always remember how you defended Detroit to your mother when you were injured while reporting the Piston win of the championship some years back. I too thought you just changed your hair until hearing the report. I too am a breast cancer survivor, 6 1/2 years. I chose the mastectomy followed by chemo, tram reconstruction and 5 years of tamoxifen. 7 years ago I wouldn't pay attention to the progress in treating breast cancer, now my ears always perk up. Unfortunately, you always live with the fear but also the belief that you can conquer. I was only 40 when diagnosed and had a 3 year old daughter. I cried once, when I first knew and my daughter tried to comfort me and asked what's wrong - I knew then I had to fight for her. My husband was a gem and as always calm. I thank God everyday for my survival and never said "Why Me". To say that would be wishing it on someone else and I don't. I do say and thank God for the "Why Me" in the survival as I've known others who haven't survived. I work with the public and worked while having chemo and recall one of my complainant's whose case I had giving me a hard time while I was trying to get a settlement for him from his past employer. I understood he had his problems too and when I first met with him, I was still wearing a wig. by the time the case settled and I delivered him his check, I had enough hair to do without the wig and recall his commenting about going "butch" joking. I told him of my "problems" and could see the shame he felt in his face. He apologized profusely about his actions those last couple months and asked why I hadn't said anything when he would give me the hard time. I recall telling him that he had his own problems but I would hope he would remember that others are having their also. I wish you and all the other cancer survivors good health for the future and I continue to thank God for my health.

Bless you Anne...

In addition to being one great reporter you are one tough lady and an inspiration for anyone facing adversity.

May your recovery continue to be complete and uneventful.

Ihave had Multible Myloma since 2003 and was given a prognosis of 3-5 years. Still here and still being treated it is still in a very small state. Have had two Major heart attacks and now have a pacemaker/ Defibrilator also have serious case of peripharal neuropothy(feet and hands). Still going strong go camping and touring an will be fly fishing next month (Apr/May) at Yellowstone and the Missouri River in NDak. I don;t worry about what's next just keep going and going. Hope this helps someone else to keep going and golng!~

Hi Anne (from an Ann with no e),

I remember you from your old reporting days back at WDIV/TV and always admired you for the strong journalist you obviously were/are because of how well you've advanced in your field.

It surprised me to hear of your cancer, you've definitely done a great job not letting it get to you. You're a very strong woman, and one that I still admire after all these years.

As fate would have it my family has been rocked with terrible cancer news in the past week. My ten year old nephew who was diagnosed with Leukemia 16 days after your diagnosis last year (since then he's had three rounds of chemotherapy, a round of radiation, and he just finished a bone marrow transplant not a month ago) got bad news this week (all seemed to be going well) but after routine blood work post transplant it was found that his cancer had returned and things are dire now. Sadly it'll take a miracle for him to survive. Another family member, my Uncle was diagnosed with esophageal cancer this week, and upon having a PET scan more cancer was found in various other parts of his body. Things don't look very good for him either.

I really want to praise you for "coming out" and discussing your cancer, it's going to take people like you (and Tony Snow and Elizabeth Edwards) to keep the awareness going. So hopefully there won't be any other Anne's or Tony's or Elizabeth's or Devon's (my nephew), or Jerry's (my uncle) in the future.

All the best to you and yours, and thank you once again for your courage!

To All:

I am so amazed by all of the wonderful men and women who have shared their remarkable stories of cancer survival here and elsewhere. Individuals of all ages and from all walks of life show they will not let this disease get in the way of their lives. Kudos to you all!
I do have one question. What ever happened to that cure we were promised 35 years ago when "the war on cancer" was declared? I know it is complicated disease but 35 years of global research and billions and billions of dollars should account for more than what we have. I recall a few years ago when the emphasis was on prevention of cancer. Now the stories are about living with the disease. What about the cure for metastatic disease?

Please tell Anne Thompson that I have enjoyed watching her since she used to be a reporter in Detroit. I was shocked to hear that she had breast cancer. Best wishes to her and I will continue to enjoy watching her reports for many years to come.

I just wanted to tell you what a relief it was to hear you say that you aren't doing anything more than many other cancer patients. I am 28 years old and currently fighting Hodgkins Lymphoma. I just had my 8th treatment a few hours ago. I am often told how "strong" because I too continue to work full time. My workload hasn't lightened and I believe getting up every morning to go to work gives me purpose.

However, I don't believe I'm stronger than any other patient living with cancer. Cancer became another thing in my life that I needed to learn to manage. Unlike you, I have not researched my Hodgkins much. I wait for my doctor to tell me what's next. However, I didn't have many options. Hodgkins doesn't have a surgery option and Chemo and Radiation are a basic requirement. So I go with the flow, live my life and occasionally I got get some chemo. Congratulations to you and your family on beating this disease, I look forward to joining you as a survivor in a few months!

My wife, Nancy, died of breast cancer in January after a long 3 1/2 year battle. A lot is written about the patient, but little about the spouse travelling on the same road. There are many things we learn: about the "sorority" that comes from many places to help, about the incredible doctors, nurses and caregivers who provide direct care to the patient, about the gross deficiencies in "managed care", about friends who disappear and those that surprise you with their support, and, chiefly, about the importance to the patient about owning the disease and determining what they will, and will not, share with those they love.

Your report has brought me a lot of tears, and a lot of relief. Hopefully, the attention will result in saved lives and a true cure.

Personal thanks to NBC News for focusing on living with Cancer. After a mastectomy at age 31 in 1967 I came out of the "closet" via a New York Times article on women who had breast cancer reaching out to other survivors. Back then, we were chastised by our families for discussing our cancer so openly. We simply wanted to reach women and their families and help them cope with the physical and mental challenges they faced.


so proud of you, so glad you are doing well!
God bless you!!!

Dan Mountney


Good Morning, Anne,

This note does not need to be posted; rather it's a more personal note to you about another fight against cancer.

In Janaury of 1998, my wife was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer - a synovial sarcoma. Our HMO at the time essentially gave up on her. It was only "by accident" that she discovered that there was a world-class sacroma clinic just down the street form the HMO at the University of Washington. In the meantime, my wife had taken a very proactive stance in her fight with the disease. Bottom line, after months of truly ugly chemo, after a 14 hour surgery in which a vertibrum and other 'thngs' were removed - and after 3 months of highly specialized radiation at Mass General, she was cancer free...has been since the spring of 1999. (Her doctor used to have her tell his interns "how she survived the HMO.") In the meantime, several close friends have died as the result of various forms of cancer. This is just the tip of the iceberg of her story. It, like yours, is very powerful. It's one of faith, strength, an overwhelmingly supportive comunity of family and friends...and three kids! Each had a different response to what all was going on. Our youngest was 4 at the time. He, for example, never generates memories of being 4.
Noone fights cancer alone.
My wife has a powerful story to tell. She has all the pieces of a book - almost ready to go. It would be wonderful if you and she could connect and talk sometime.

Thank you for telling your story.

Mahalo nui loa,
Mike Donlin

Anne-Until the other day when you went on the air and told your story of having survived breast cancer, my husband & I thought you had just decided to change your hair style? We were surprised & at the same time very upbeat to see that you are doing so well. It is important for people of recognition to put their stories of surviving cancer out there for those who feel they will not survive the disease. My mother and a co-worker have died of the disease. Hopefully, you and Elizabeth Edwards letting everyone know you can survive and live a fulfilling life w/the disease, will help others realize they too can live with the disease. I wish you many happy, healthy years and the hairdue looks great!

It was an absolute pleasure to meet you. You are so optomistic, kind and smart. An inspiration to us all. Thank you for being so kind to me. I wish I would've taken some pics of when we met. Thank you for sharing your story. You have a fan for life with me.

Ann, I was diagnosed with breaast cancer in June 2004. I was lucky because my lump was so small that it could only be detected in a mammogram. I feel like I cheated, though, because I only had a lumpectomy and radiation, and escaped chemotherapy. I guess I'm the poster child for annual mammograms now! As of today, almost 3 years later, I am cancer-free, but the fear of recurrence is always present. Welcome to the dubious sisterhood, Ann, and keep on fighting!

Anne-I wanted to let you know that I never noticed the hair changes, or any negative impact on your reporting. It was as steady as ever, as far as I was concerned. Hopefully that helps assuage any doubts you had about telling your story.
May you never see the inside of a cancer ward again.
Keep up the good work.

Thank you Anne for sharing your story. I felt as though you were describing my experience. The only difference is I had Uterine cancern. Trying to maintain a normal life was the biggest challenge for me. And of course there was the hair loss. Unlike you, I chose to cover my head with caps and scarves (I'm not in the public eye like you). I have made it my mission to corrdinate my head cover with my outfit each day. This has been my way of maintaining my dignity. Thank you for sharing that cancer is not a death sentence, but a bump in the road of life that can be navigated.


I just received a clean bill of health from my mammogram that I never fail to have done. Every woman on the planet knows the fear hidden inside as we step in front of the machine. Please know that my prayers and hope for you for a continued wonderful life. I DO like you new hair!!!

You're fabulous!!
Don't know if you recall, but we worked together at WDIV for a short time. I was Carol Ruppel's EP waaay back, like in '91? I think?

I've so enjoyed seeing your reports on look terrific and your work is outstanding (as always.) Now, learning what you've been through, I'm so proud of you, even though I have no right to be.

I wish you the've always deserved it.

Love ya,

Dear Anne,
Thank you for your courageous story. "Living with cancer" is a fact of many lives, especially the 20,000 of us women diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year. A Stage 3 diagnosis was terrifying but with great doctors, many months of chemotheraphy, I am well but live to hear that my monthly blood test comes back clear. They say Ovarian cancer "whispers" but when its your life it "screams". Many women live their lives treating this as a chronic disease, enduring long regimens of chemo.
I admire you for getting the word out that we can live beautiful lives with cancer- it is not always a death sentence. With prayer, support from friends and family and courage, we will survive!
Thank you.


My husband I sat in stunned silence as we watched your story about your battle with cancer. You see, we had just come home that day from a doctor’s visit. This visit confirmed that my husband has MALT lymphoma. We were there to discuss options, set up appointments for more tests and to make an appointment with his new doctor- his oncologist.

Chemo has been the recommended course of treatment at this point. We haven’t even talked with our families yet on exactly what is going on. I worked in the hospice field for ten years and have seen the worst of what cancer can do. But the words you spoke last night helped my husband and I immensely. You said “You can live with cancer.” At that point my mine took a different turn. Sometimes when the news is given you can’t help but think the worst- but those five words gave me a new line of thinking- one I plan to hold on to.

Thanks for sharing your story- for us- it could not have come at a better time. I wish you well.

Comments for this entry have been closed


Trackbacks are links to weblogs that reference this post. Like comments, trackbacks do not appear until approved by us. The trackback URL for this post is: