The Tender Bud is the moving story of one woman's journey through breast cancer. The woman in question happens to be a senior psychiatrist of broad learning and deep clinical insight. Madeleine Meldin weathered the crisis of breast cancer without the support of an immediate family and in the context of ongoing professional burdens. This book is the journal that she wrote for herself as an aid to coping with the personal upheaval of diagnosis, mastectomy, and the aftermath of treatment. It was written while these events unfolded. With arresting candor, Meldin chronicles her emotions at each stage of her odyssey - the recurrent cycles of denial, anxiety, and despair; the conflicting feelings engendered by her physicians, surgeons, and the treatment "establishment" in general; her struggle between resignation and emergent hopefulness.
Unique to Meldin's account is her ongoing juxtaposition of the different dimensions of "having cancer." Simply and gracefully, she chronicles the everyday dimension of cancer, with its obligation to proceed maturely and dispassionately with medical and surgical care, to meet one's professional responsibilities, to maintain the appearances that allow one to carry on with one's life. Meldin excels at showing how even the most mundane experiences of everyday life - conversations with friends and colleagues, the selection of clothes, a trip to the hairdresser - became saturated with her illness, with her sense of herself as a cancer patient.
"The Tender Bud is a tender account of human proportion of the experience of breast cancer by a sensitive, sophisticated psychiatrist whose warm psychotherapeutic style enriches her life and ours. She illuminates the spirit's trial by fire from the cancer, its personal and social meanings, and the even more threatening treatment. It is the author's extraordinary eye for the telling details of everyday lived experience of suffering that is her chief gift to her audience, along with the grace of the person who emerges from the simple and direct prose. I wanted to meet her at the end. I wanted to tell her that her illness narrative had affected me, had made me come to know someone admirable in adversity, someone I would like to know as a friend when I am in adversity. Perhaps it is, after all, the tender mercies of the psychotherapeutically informed like that will save us, sentenced as we are to existential terminality in a banal bureaucratic culture. This book is a gift from the heart that deserves many friends."
- Arthur Kleinman, M.D., Harvard Medical School
Prologue 1. Discovery 2. The Sacrifice of the Part for the Whole 3. Home Survival 4. Chemotherapy 5. Reshaping 6. Back to Everyday Life 7. Making Peace Epilogue