Real Life

REAL LIFE: Meet the telepathic best buds who have had each other's back for decades

You won't believe how similar the lives of these two best friends are.

By Mitchell Jordan

Claire Clifton, 60, from Daylesford, Victoria, shares her remarkable story with Take 5's Mitchell Jordan:

Opening the front door, I looked in surprise at the strange woman who'd arrived at my house without warning.
"Apparently we're supposed to meet," she smiled.
I couldn't help but laugh.
For the past month, I'd been taking my young bub, Jonathan, to the local health centre to be weighed and checked.
The sister who worked there was a real character and reckoned I simply had to meet another woman named Cheryl.
"She's just like you," the sister insisted. "You've both got a young baby and love horses."
In fact, the sister was so certain that she even wrote Cheryl's number and address in Jonathan's baby book.
Turned out she'd done the same to Cheryl!
"Come in," I said, apologising that the house was in such a mess.
In the early days of our friendship: we hit it off immediately. (Image: supplied)
As a new mum, I was still finding my feet, but Cheryl – who was mother to a daughter, Kristen, and newborn, Jarrod – had plenty of advice and gave me reassurance I was doing well.
Before we knew it, hours had passed and we'd talked non-stop.
We agreed to meet again and, from that day, were inseparable.
Knowing my new friend lived just five minutes down the road meant we could catch up easily.
Our two boys also bonded and we'd go out riding horses together.
When my own family had to move, we found ourselves with nowhere to go for 10 weeks until our new home was ready.
"Stay with us," Cheryl insisted.
Some friends weren't certain it was such a good idea.
"This will be the end of the friendship," they warned.
But by the time we were ready to move into our new place, Cheryl and I were in tears at being apart from one another!
Kristen, Jonathan and Jarrod: our kids all got along. (Image: supplied)
As our friendship grew, we discovered more similarities.
We were both struck down with a tooth abscess at the same time.
When my first marriage ended, I later fell in love with a man named Brian.
Not only was that the name of Cheryl's husband, but our partners had both worked for different branches of the same bank.
Our Brians got on like a house on fire, meaning we were constantly in each other's company.
Brian and I had a child together, Kiara, which meant Cheryl and I both had a son and a daughter whose names started with J and K respectively.
"Seeing Cheryl is like looking in the mirror," I told Brian. "We're so similar."
We didn't like the term best friends, instead referring to one another as "my forever friend".
For us, the idea that we'd always be together was more appealing.
Horses was one of the many things we had in common. (Image: supplied)
Although we had many good times, Cheryl called me in a state of upset when Kristen, then 28, was diagnosed with stage-four melanoma.
Kristen was also pregnant with her second child and couldn't have any form of surgery just yet in case it affected her bub.
Later, Kristen had surgery and gave birth to a boy, Harley, only to learn the melanoma had returned again.
I knew friendship wasn't only about being there in the good times, and helped Cheryl and Kristen as much as I could.
It felt like a miracle when Kristen was accepted into a clinical trial that shrank the cancer away.
But one year later I went for my routine mammogram when the doctor's face turned grim.
"You have breast cancer," he began.
Further tests revealed it had spread to my lymph nodes.
Cheryl was never one to sugar-coat anything, but when I broke the news to her, she was optimistic.
"You've got this, Claire," she said.
And, after six painful months of chemo, I was given the all-clear.
Cheryl, Kristen, me and Kiara. (Image: supplied)
For the next five years, Kristen had to be monitored.
We all hoped the worst was behind us and she could focus on her second child.
But when the cancer came back, spreading to the liver and pancreas, we all despaired.
It felt so cruel that she'd come this far to be dealt another blow.
Whenever Cheryl talked to me about Kristen, she'd call her "your other daughter" and that's exactly how I thought of her.
Like me and her mum, Kristen was a keen horse-rider.
So when she began another round of treatment and scans found her free of cancer again, Cheryl bought her a horse named Stormy for her 40th birthday.
She's been cancer-free for three years now.
We recently swapped horses for camels! (Image: supplied)
I'm old enough to realise life can be filled with as many downs as it is ups, but knowing my forever friend is never far from my side has made the difficult times so much easier.
I don't ride horses anymore, but on a recent trip to the Grampians National Park in south-west Victoria, with Cheryl, we were thrilled to see camels were available to ride.
"Let's do it!" I cried.
It was just like old times.
So much in our lives might have changed but Cheryl's friendship really is forever.
Cheryl, 63, tells Take 5:
Right from the minute we met, it was like finding your other half.
Over all these years, Claire and I have developed a telepathy: we know exactly what each other is thinking and feeling.
Life's thrown everything at us, but we're always there for each other.

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