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Women's Health Blog

It's A Woman Thing: One of Life's Greatest Gifts

Just as November is the month of Thanksgiving, December is the month of giving or gifting. As I reflect on my journey since announcing my breast cancer diagnosis, I have been full of gratitude for many good things in my life including my friends. 

I am most fortunate to have some of the best friends in all of the universe.  I think it is easy to take friendships for granted or to reference them too casually. I am so proud of the true friendships that I have amassed over the years and I am truly blessed to have them.

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Image file: Friends Leslie, Bridget, and Riki
Friends Leslie, Bridget, and Riki

What I find the most heartwarming is the duration of my true friendships. One of my dearest friends is local builder Randy Burton of Burton Builders – and we go all the way back to third grade! One of my most vivid memories of him at that time was standing in front of the class for a “show and tell” and talking about his recent family trip to Disney!  I was so envious… Our friendship has grown and lasted and he has gifted me further in his selection of a bride. His wife Riki is now one of my dearest friends and I feel doubly blessed! It’s as if we have known each other forever! What a great feeling whenever we are all together. We openly express our gratitude for our friendship.

My friend Leslie and I have been friends since we were 14! Oh, the stories I could tell!! It has been a nurturing and enduring friendship ever since. We have been a part of the many chapters of each other’s lives and we have gathered many memories. We have been there for one another through “thick and thin!” The best part is that she lives here and we get to see each other frequently even if only for a glass of wine. It is always therapeutic to be in the company of a good friend. I cherish this great and lasting relationship with my beautiful friend.

When my kids were little, I used to long for getting out – to take a break from the demands of motherhood. I was lucky to have some friends, “sisters,” who took me under their wings and made me feel OK for wanting to get away for a while! We established a weekly routine of going out and at the time as a means of explaining it to my kids, I referred to it as mommy’s “playgroup.”  The kids understood instantly!  These weekly outings were my salvation. My “sisters” to this day are a solid group; they are some of the strongest, kindest, most generous women I know. We still make the time to get together but we have evolved from the “playgroup” to the “sisterhood!” The sisterhood came to see me after my first surgery and I am grateful for their care and concern. I genuinely felt their love and support. My gratitude is overwhelming…

I have been blessed with another friend, Beth, who is like the sister I never had. She has been my one true champion through many chapters of my life. She is the Godmother of one of my daughters and I am honored to be the Godmother to her children. There is a bond and connection between the two of us that is special. We grew up together. We worked together, supported ourselves through college, we have tales of great road trip adventures, we lived together sharing expenses as “poor college students,” we even shared a car – our beach cruiser! I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything and I recognize that these experiences and having someone to share them with really are the foundation of who I have become both personally and professionally. I have learned a lot from her over the years. She is so wise and insightful. Her sense of humor is infectious! She has also been my parenting mentor. I really look up to her and her husband for the great parenting example that they have set for me. I only hope that my children will have the great fortune to have a connection like this with any of their friends.

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Image file: The Playgroup
The Playgroup

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I was able to connect with my college roommate, Lauren. Again, I was reminded of my great fortune for having such good friends. It is always great to get together with her and catch up but also to reminisce about all of our memories both good and not so good! I love being with her, it is effortless and afterwards I am always amazed how easy it is to pick up where we left off. It is as if no time has passed. I especially love her humor and she has helped me over the years discover my own sense of humor!  My love for my friends is so genuine and so easy and I am very aware of the bonds of love we have, especially when we are together.

I often use these friendships as an example for my children when they are confronted with the challenges of adolescence.  I illustrate these friendships as shining examples of what true friendships should be. A true friend only wants the best for you, doesn’t talk behind your back, supports you when you are at your worst, celebrates your successes, laughs with you, cries with you, and would come running to help at a moment’s notice.

The other night Riki, Leslie, and I went to dinner to celebrate Riki’s birthday. We talked about our friendship and acknowledged how lucky we are. We acknowledged that it is not the quantity of friends that you have but the quality of friends that is important. Leslie recounted that she remembers her dad telling her many years ago that as you get older, if you can count your friends on one hand, then you have accumulated one of life’s greatest achievements. I am happy to say he is right. I hope that my children will one day be able to remark about having the same good fortune of friendship – one of the greatest gifts life has to offer!

I find that maybe what I most treasure about my friendships is how they really empower me to be myself. I do not have to be “on” when we are together. Life is demanding as it is, the stress that anyone of us encounters on a daily basis is just too much if you ask me. As I have been saying out loud recently on my cancer journey “stress causes cancer!” 

I am on a mission to eliminate stress as much as possible! I resolve to make more time for my friends because those are the least stressful moments of all. I am aware of just how relaxed I am in their presence. In those moments I am present and mindful of the bonds of love and true connection, the acceptance and the authenticity. Isn’t that what we all want?  I thank them all from the bottom of my heart for their gift to me all year long.

Peace and Blessings to all.

Bridget Buckaloo

Bridget Buckaloo

Bridget Buckaloo, MSN, is Executive Director of Women's Health Services at Beebe Healthcare.