“I have a ‘mother’ concern, Dr. Bromberg.”
My oncologist and I were sitting in her office at the Breast Center of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital, where we’d just covered all the details of my upcoming chemotherapy treatment. It was late, 9:30 p.m., and I had her undivided attention. “My son is having open-heart surgery in May for a congenital heart defect,” I said. “I have to work out my chemo schedule so I can be with him in St. Louis.”
“Absolutely,” she said.
My 31-year-old son, Dave, had assured me he wouldn’t need his dad or me to be with him during his hospitalization: his friends would help with picking up food and anything else he needed. While his dad bought into the “I’ll be fine” line, there was no way I would. How could the two of them believe that Dave wouldn’t need his parents? I was going.
Finally, he relented. “You can come, Moo, but only to give me emotional support.” Then, as the date drew closer, he asked if I’d also walk and feed his black pug, Izzy. It seemed like a good sign.
Four months earlier, while I’d been fervently researching treatment for my breast cancer, Dave had been doing the same for his condition. A month after that, he’d called to break the news: “Moo, be calm. My cardiologist told me I need heart surgery again to replace my aortic valve.” Oh, God! Dave needs me to be calm, and I’m scheduled to have a mastectomy next month. For his sake, I mimicked serenity. Underneath, my heart was…