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Beads of Courage - Child Cancer Foundation Appeal

Beads of Courage - Child Cancer Foundation Annual Appeal 2008

The Beads of Courage programme provides a unique and special way of honouring each brave step that a child takes on their childhood cancer treatment journey.

Originating in the United States, the programme has since been introduced into oncology centres worldwide. Treatment centres in Christchurch and Wellington adopted the programme in early 2007, followed by Auckland’s Starship Children’s Health.

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Cancer treatment procedures are often incredibly painful and traumatic, but even more so for children as they do not necessarily understand why they have to endure painful treatments to help them get better. By acknowledging each procedure with a different bead the child has a way of communicating his or her courage in achieving a particular milestone. “The beads give the children something to look forward to at the end of each single procedure. It gives them a special keepsake so they can say, ‘Today I’ve been brave and got through my treatment.’ It makes such a difference to the way they view their experiences,” says Stephanie Moore, Neurosurgery Nurse Specialist at Starship Children’s Health.

The official beads come in approximately 22 different colours and varieties, 18 of which symbolise a specific procedure, and four which represent significant milestones. Outstanding ‘acts of courage’ such as surgery or the removal of stitches are recognised with beautifully-crafted glass beads and other ‘special accomplishments’ receive beads with an imprinted picture or symbol. The completion of treatment is honoured with a big purple heart.

Many children on the Beads of Courage programme will collect more than 400 beads during their cancer journey. This will mean they have faced endless treatments, including x-rays, injections, scans, chemotherapy, radiotherapy sessions, clinic visits and antibiotics, as well as other distressing challenges such as hair loss and isolation.

“It is great to be able to do something positive for the kids. They are often in pain and suffering, yet always manage to remain so incredibly hopeful and brave. The beads are our way of showing them how courageous we think they are,” said Stephanie.

The Beads of Courage also provide a positive way for health professionals to encourage and interact with the children, siblings and parents on their cancer journey. Many parents get involved with the programme and keep tally sheets of their child’s procedures so they can collect the beads at a later date.

This year during the Child Cancer Foundation Annual Appeal Week, 10–16th March, New Zealanders will have the opportunity to donate $4 or more and receive a “Support Bead” to assist with the funding of the Beads of Courage programme. These beads are available from street collectors or in-store at Mad Butcher, JK Kids Gear, Hyundai dealerships, Retravision and Professionals Real Estate Outlets.


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