“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
Winston S. Churchill
My name is Barb Wood. I’m a daughter, a partner, a mother of four adult children, a nanny to the four most precious grandchildren in the world (ok so perhaps I’m a little biased), an Oncology Psychotherapist, and Founder and CEO of boob buddies Inc.
So, I guess you’re wondering what on earth a Maserati has to do with meaning, what an Oncology Psychotherapist does, and what boob buddies Inc is.
Let’s wind the clock back to when I was married to a lawyer. He drove a Maserati and I a Mercedes convertible. My life back then was all about taking kids to school, going to the gym, ‘doing’ coffee, picking kids up from school, shopping, and overseas travel – business class of course! After fifteen years the marriage ended. I was lost because I didn’t really know who I was. I only knew what I had and what I was about to lose. Yes, the Masa and the Merc went.
Then, one day I had an epiphany, ‘I wanted to make a difference in the lives of others who were struggling.’ After lots of ‘googling’ my decision was made, I was going to become a counsellor. So I enrolled at a University and did an Applied Social Science degree with a major in Counselling. It certainly wasn’t a walk in the park, and many assignments were written with tears in my eyes, as I was forced to really get to know myself before I could even contemplate helping others. For as challenging as it was, it was also one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.
The years flew by, and before I knew it I had graduated from Uni and it was time to decide who I wanted to sit with and counsel. One thing led to another, and I found I was spending more and more time with people who were, directly or indirectly, affected by the insidious disease called cancer. This then led to me becoming an Oncology Psychotherapist and establishing boob buddies – which back then was a private practice.
As a sole practitioner I wasn’t answerable to anyone, so I decided to see people for free. My decision to do so was because I knew having cancer had also had a debilitating financial effect on many people. For some, jobs had been lost because they were too sick to work; for others their partners could only work part-time as they became the carer; and in some cases, houses had been mortgaged to pay for continuing treatment – the reason for this being that once people reach the stage where medicine will no longer cure them, they actually have to start paying for it! For now, I won’t go into my thoughts about this as this article would go on forever.
Then one day I was chatting about my professional life with a journalist who said he thought I definitely had a story to tell. This was followed by that word ‘however’ and I immediately knew there was a catch. He went on to suggest that before we write my story I need to get ‘all my ducks in a row.’ He went on to say that because I was providing FREE professional counselling for children and adults, directly or indirectly, affected by cancer, I should establish a not-for-profit charity. Without going into the details of how that came to be ‘boob buddies Inc.’ was established and is now a registered Public Benevolent Institution with Deductible Gift Recipient Status -this means all donations are tax deductible!
I believe I am truly blessed, as most days I have the privilege to spend time with amazingly courageous people and help them cope with the roller-coaster ride of cancer. There are no words to express how I feel when I see a smile, hear laughter, or even when they cry as they talk about their fears. Our time together is real and raw, the therapeutic dialogue doesn’t consist of ‘so how does that feel?’, ‘tell me more’, ‘so what you’re saying is’. We focus on the ‘givens’ in life from which we cannot escape – such as relationships, death, and choice etc. We also acknowledge the importance of ‘the here-and-now…the I-and-Thou…and the what-and how’ – for in reality, we all only have the present moment. Great emphasis is also placed on ‘hope’ as this is the one thing cancer cannot take away. To spend time with a child or an adult during the most vulnerable chapter of a life is beyond humbling.
And, the blessings continue. I have been invited to speak in Dubai at the ‘International Conference on Oncology and Radiology’ in October so I will be able to introduce boob buddies to the world, and tell them about the books I have written for children with cancer – another story for another day.
I look forward to sharing more of my story with you.
Founder and CEO boob buddies Inc.