Beads of Courage

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Beads of Courage

Helping children with cancer fight their fears

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN
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It is hard to live with a cancer diagnosis, especially if you are a child. You may not even know what is wrong; all you understand is the scary, painful treatments and the hospitalizations. Everyone hopes you will be brave — and cooperative. But do they know how difficult that is? Some people do, and now there is a concrete way to show it and build on the resources that children do have.

The idea originated with Sharon Gove, MSW, in Canada; but in the United States, Beads of Courage is the work of Jean Baruch, RN, BSN, Ph.D(c). Every time a child undergoes a surgery, a procedure or hospitalization, a reward is given in the form of a colorful bead — different colors for different experiences. These beads eventually result in a necklace, which becomes a keepsake of the child’s victory over fear. Oftentimes they’re 500 beads long, and a purple heart represents completion. If a child does not survive, parents receive a butterfly memento. Bead makers donate their work, and staff nurses implement the program with other team members.

It costs about $4,500 to set up Beads of Courage, including training, and about $1,500 a year for supplies. Some nurses sponsor it themselves with bake sales; and it is a modest amount for a hospital auxiliary.

To see examples of the beautiful and intricately designed beads, or to read about the program details and research that shows the worth of this “resilience-based intervention,” check out www.beadsofcourage.org.    

Beads of Courage will soon be expanding to cover children with other critical illnesses, such as hematologic disorders and pulmonary disease.   


This article is from workingnurse.com.

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