A couple of weeks after the brain surgery, a woman came to our room in the hospital. “Do you participate in the Beads Of Courage program?” she asked as she handed me a booklet. I skimmed the pages as she explained the beads and looked over the heavy-weight paper in my hand reminescent of a scantron. Little bubbles to be shaded in beside things like “blood transfusion” and “hair loss”, “neutropenia” and “received antibiotics”. I scrolled down the long list of procedures and events; “received a PICC line”, “port accessed”, “mobility issues”, “physical therapy”, “speech therapy”…..and the list went on.
“Each time she has one of these procedures, fill in the bubble and she can trade her completed card for the beads she’s earned.” As the door closed behind the woman, I sat down and back-logged every procedure Phoebe had experienced up to that point. The next week we traded her filled-out card for a baggie full of beautiful beads. Red for blood transfusions, black for nights spent in-patient, yellow for every poke she had received, a little bald head with a face that represented hair-loss, rainbows for physical therapy, and the big, beautiful, smooth brown bead that Phoebe chose to symbolize her tumor resection surgery. I strung them on the black cord and tied them onto her IV pole. The kids on the oncology floor wheel their IV poles through the halls and proudly display their Beads of Courage. They wear them like badges of bravery.
Each one of these beads represents the strength that these pediatric cancer kids has had to muster up at such a tender age. I hate it that Phoebe has hundreds upon hundreds of these beads. I love it that she has a material way to mark her brave journey.
And the bead she chose for her surgery….