Patricia shares a light moment with mom. The 3-year-old has earned enough Beads of Courage to fill two full strands.

Kids with cancer endure countless probes, injections and tests. It takes courage and resilience to get through the treatment. They should get medals.

At UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland they do get medals–in the form of Beads of Courage. Patients are awarded a bead for each procedure or treatment milestone they endure. By the end of their treatments, kids have a strand of colorful beads, a map of their journey to good health.

Children’s was one of the first hospitals in the country to adopt the supportive care program. Local artisans stepped in to donate some wonderful glass beads.

“To see Patricia’s history visually like this is pretty overwhelming,” says Dina Macdonald, mother of 3-year-old Patricia, while studying her daughter’s first strand of beads. Patricia has earned enough beads for at least two strands, including 33 red beads for 33 blood transfusions, 100 white beads for 100 days of chemotherapy and 8 glow-in-the-dark beads for 8 radiation treatments. There’s also a special hand-made glass bead to acknowledge the day Patricia met Sam, a special friend in her unit, and a blue glass bead for a particularly courageous day. “That’s when we got over our pity party,” Dina remembers.

“It’s a way to help kids cope with their treatments and illnesses and hospitalization,” says Kim Sinclair, RN, nurse manager of the inpatient hematology and oncology units. “It encourages them to see it in a positive way.”
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Beads of Courage