Health & Family

Networks join to raise cancer awareness

Katie Couric, Charles Gibson and Brian Williams have something in common besides their jobs: Each has lost loved ones to cancer.

The evening news anchors are planning to join dozens of A-list entertainers and sports figures on “Stand Up to Cancer,” a live, one-hour special being simulcast at 8 p.m. Friday on ABC, CBS and NBC, as well as cable's E! Entertainment channel.

Besides seeking contributions to finance cancer research, the program will attempt to make the subject of cancer “not fun,” said Couric, “but maybe a little bit entertaining – as well as educational and informative.”

CBS's Couric and her news comrades will handle the information part, with each providing a 21/2-minute progress report on research efforts.

“We're on the cusp of many exciting breakthroughs,” Couric said. “We'll have three examples of that.”

Her segment will highlight new treatment for medulloblastoma, a malignant brain tumor that commonly targets children.

ABC's Gibson will report on breast cancer, he said, “because my wife has gone through a bout of it.” (She is now in recovery.) He added that cancer claimed the lives of his parents and sister.

NBC's Williams said his mother and sister died of cancer, which has put him on notice: “Given my family history, it's not a question of will I have cancer, but in what form and when.”

As he looked ahead to Friday's special, Williams noted that networks had joined hands before for public-service simulcasts, but they were in response to disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“This is no less of an emergency,” he said.