These beads, each one symbolizing a different experience that a patient must endure, from being diagnosed and admitted into the hospital to losing one’s hair or having a tumor removed, they become small tangible ways to represent a harrowing journey that is mapped onto a child’s body.Matched by a grant from Rotary District 7930, we kick-started a new inventory of story–telling BEADS. They’re available on the cancer and bone marrow transplant units at the hospital. Including a ‘Bright Happy Power’ bead to encourage some optimism.
Each child receives a bag. And a starting bead. And a line to string more beads. And an order form like a menu or shopping list, to request more beads as they are earned … because so many experiences await each patient.
Looking at the list of beads, holding them, and sharing them? These are ways for children to externalize an difficult experience and tell a story without having to give up their bodies, which are so often ‘publicly available’ because of examinations and treatments. And each bead shrinks a huge milestone into a small story that a child can hold in the palm of a hand, gaining a brief sense of empowerment. Children can tell the story starting from any point on the strong of beads, further regaining a sense of control and creativity.
The program was originally conceived and started by another family (Rebecca Nissel).