A rainbow’s myriad colors often reflect past storms, but 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 Beads of Courage, City of Hope pediatric patients showcase their stories using colorful beads to commemorate personal milestones as they travel their treatment paths.
When patients begin the program, they receive string and a few 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.
City of Hope patient Jael Ulloa displays his “Beads of Courage” necklace representing his cancer journey. (Photo by Toni Carreras-Irwin)
A red bead signifies a blood transfusion.
A white bead is given for every day of chemotherapy.
A glow-in-the-dark bead represents radiation treatment.
The list of colors is extensive, but purple may be most coveted: It’s awarded when treatment ends.
The Beads of Courage program presents a visual story and encourages children 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,” which they can use to help others understand their experience, said Ashley Lapointe, R.N., a pediatric cancer nurse who coordinated the program at City of Hope. “The program helps patients and their families have some fun during what is often a very challenging time,” she added.
Jean Baruch, R.N., a pediatric oncology nurse in Tucson, Ariz., originally developed Beads of Courage. 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.
Studies of the program indicate it helps decrease illness-related distress and restores a sense of self in children coping with serious or life-threatening illnesses.
City of Hope started its 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-HOPE (4673), ext. 63859.