‘Beads of Courage’ help children dealing with serious illness

‘Beads of Courage’ help children dealing with serious illness
Source: (KOLD)

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - To some they might look just like beaded bracelets or necklaces. But to others, they tell a story. A tough story, but one ultimately of courage.

Jean Gribbon developed the first Beads of Courage program while working on her PhD in Nursing at the University of Arizona. She wanted to find a way to care for her patients on more than just a physical level.

“I was looking for a way to better support my patients and their emotional needs.” said Gribbon. "Any nurse will tell you, you have a compelling need to give them something not as a reward but to acknowledge the courage that you witnessed.”

Gribon later developed the Beads of Courage Program at Phoenix Children's Hospital in February 2003. The program is now in 150 children’s hospitals throughout the United States.

One of those hospitals is where Angeline Fahey spent a lot of her time as a teen.

Fahey was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in 2012, a type of cancer that produces immature bone. She spent countless days in the hospital going through chemotherapy and learning how to walk again. Fahey was first introduced to Beads of Courage after a particularly tough round of chemo. From there, she began collecting beads.

"It made the treatment easier to talk about,” said Fahey "I was able to communicate my story with the beads.”

While showing us looking at her necklaces and bracelets, she explained how each one has a specific meaning. One for spending Christmas in the hospital, others for when she was learning how to walk again.

“I had 82 blood transfusions which are red. In a year.”

Other colors such as white represent chemotherapy, black for anytime they are poked.

Fahey had her beads, as well as other jewelry on display at the 2nd annual Beads, Blues, and Beer Festival Saturday.

Funds from the Festival help the Angel Charity Arts-in-Medicine Program, created by Beads of Courage, which brings over 20 hours of weekly scheduled visual, performing and literary arts, as well as music services, to Banner UMC Diamond Children's Medical Center in Tucson. Gribbon said they already exceeded last years goal.

For more information on Beads of Courage visit: http://www.beadsofcourage.org/

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