Dominic Moore, MD, is a pediatrician and the medical director of palliative care at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. Seeing his mother, Brenda Moore, juggle six kids while caring for her parents—both with cancer—motivated Dr. Moore to choose a career helping people with serious illness. Brenda and Dr. Moore reflect on their challenges and how those challenges have helped them grow closer.
Dominic Moore, MD: Can you think of the first time that you had to take care of somebody or got to take care of somebody?
Brenda Moore: It would be my younger brothers and sisters. My mom and dad both worked outside the home full-time, so a lot of responsibility fell on me just naturally. I don't remember ever feeling put upon or anything, but it was just what I did.
Dr. Moore: When Grandma was diagnosed with cancer, I was little, and you had six kids. And you were juggling us and helping her. How did you do that?
Brenda: I did go with her to her doctor's appointments, and with both my mother and my dad, neither one of them complained as they went through their cancer treatments. We probably never discussed with you their illness. In some ways, I look at that and think, “Well, that was probably better.” You guys weren't worrying about whether or not she would die, or if Papa would pass away either.
Dr. Moore: With any of my grandparents, I don't know if palliative care was part of the deal with them. I remember hospice being involved.
Brenda: With my mom only.
Dr. Moore: So, that's my job, right? Palliative care, and how do you explain what I do for a job?
Brenda: I would say it's a lot of pain management, and also questions being answered. I just know how helpful it was with the hospice nurse who came in at the end with my mom. She would say, "Don't force feed her. This is coming next," and then in the end, "Maybe you better call your brothers and sisters and let them know that she doesn't have that much longer." I think you can face anything if you know what's coming.
Dr. Moore: I think that you're exceptionally willing and able to care for other people. A lot of the reasons that I'm involved with Intermountain Healthcare is because of you and my relationship with you and the example that you set for me in my life. I love you so much. I could not do a tiny fraction of the things that I do without you, and I want you to know how important it's been in my life that you are my mom.
Brenda: And I'm so grateful that I've had the opportunity to be your mother. After taking care of my brothers and sisters, I always thought, “I'm going to be a better mother.” I think I've got it down now, and I can do this, but I really believe that your kids come to you the way they are. All you could do really is to guide and encourage them, give them a little bit of direction if they need it. You receive so much joy and happiness from your kids that you could never feel like you've given up anything at all. I always wanted to be a homemaker, and I always wanted to take care of my kids. I've loved it.
Dr. Moore: You've done it really, really well. I love you.
Brenda: Love you.