Milly’s Beads of Courage

During Milly’s treatment she enrolled in the Beads of Courage Programme which is designed to provide support for children and teenagers undergoing treatments for serious illnesses.  At every stage of cancer treatment, children receive a new Bead of Courage. The beads join together to form (often long) physical representations of their recovery, resulting in a record of every hospital trip and treatment on their courageous journey. The Beads of Courage help to decrease illness-related distress, and increase positive coping strategies to support children and their families.

The Beads are also something tangible that a child can use, to tell family and friends about their experience during treatment. They also help explain what has happened to them whilst they have been in hospital.

With each procedure or milestone in their treatment, they get a special bead. Each bead is their way of saying “this isn’t easy, but I did it”.

Every child is given the Beads of Courage bead colour chart, along with a length of string and beads that spell out their first name.

Then, colourful beads, each representing a different treatment, are given to the child by their professional health care provider, as determined by the bead guide. During the course of their treatment, they are also given “Act of Courage” beads.  A few examples of these beads include:

  • Yellow bead: an overnight stay in hospital
  • White bead: a course of chemotherapy
  • Blue bead: visits to the clinic
  • Glow-in-the-dark bead: a course of radiation treatment
  • Glass bead: an act of courage
  • Special star bead: a special accomplishment
  • Purple heart bead: completion of treatment!

Deciding what to do with Milly’s Beads of Courage was quite difficult; for the last 3 years they have been in her bedroom in the bag that we kept them in.  After copious amounts of research, I decided to have them made into a tree, and framed so that they can be displayed properly.  Milly had so many beads that they had to be made into 2 trees!

The first frame in the picture are the beads from diagnosis to post bone marrow transplant… the second frame are from the time Milly relapsed to when we lost her 💔

The third picture is the list of beads that are available for each treatment/procedure that children endure.

The final picture is Milly proudly wearing her beads after ringing the End of Treatment Bell, just before she was discharged home following her bone marrow transplant.

These beads speak so much of courage, determination and love, and chart every single step of Milly’s cancer journey- I love them and they mean the world to me, but more importantly I’m sure Milly would love them too❤️🌈🎗

Thank you to Natasha at Rainbow Trees for looking after the beads and displaying them so perfectly.

43 days later home


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