A rainbow’s myriad colors often signify a reflection of past storms, yet they also represent hope and new beginnings. With the Beads of Courage program, these same simple and vibrant colors take on a deeper meaning for children suffering from cancer.
Through the program, City of Hope pediatric patients can showcase their story using colorful beads to commemorate personal milestones and symbolize their courage as they travel their treatment path.
When patients begin the program, they receive string and lettered beads spelling out their first names. As they undergo different procedures or treatments, they receive beads with colors that match up to each procedure or mark a special accomplishment or event. A red bead signifies a blood transfusion, a white bead is given for every day of chemotherapy, and a glow-in-the-dark bead represents radiation treatment.
|City of Hope patient Jael Ulloa displays his “Beads of Courage” necklace representing his cancer journey. (Photo by Toni Carreras-Irwin)|
The list of colors is extensive, but purple may be most coveted: It is awarded when treatment ends.
For those parents whose child succumbs to cancer, a butterfly bead may offer comfort. It signifies the end of the child’s treatment journey and, along with the rest of the beads, serves as a memorial for the parents.
The Beads of Courage program aims to present a visual story and encourage a child to find meaning within illness and treatment experiences and develop a sense of achievement. “The Beads of Courage program provides a positive coping strategy and gives our pediatric patients a tangible symbol, like small badges of honor, they then can translate into language so people understand what they’ve been through,” said Ashley Lapointe, R.N., a pediatric cancer nurse who coordinated the program until her departure from City of Hope recently. “The program helps patients and their families have some fun during what is often a very challenging time.”
Jean Baruch, R.N., a pediatric oncology nurse in Tucson, Ariz., originally developed Beads of Courage after she realized that many of the children she treated needed a way to remember and feel a sense of accomplishment during the different steps on their treatment path. Ongoing evaluation of the program indicates it is effective in helping to decrease illness-related distress and it restores a sense of self in children coping with a serious, life-threatening illness.
City of Hope implemented the program in 2006.
To learn more about the Beads of Courage program, visit www.beadsofcourage.net. For information about the program at City of Hope, please call 626-256-4673, ext. 63859.