“I feel that the greatest reward for doing is the opportunity to do more.” – Jonas Salk
I first heard about the Beads of Courage program a short while after I began as the interim patient care manager on the Hematology, Oncology and Transplant Unit (LINK). Not only did the staff express a strong interest in the program, but there was one particular father of a patient who advocated heavily for the inception of the program. He said to me, “I know that someday we may not continue to win the battle against cancer, but we always will have these beads to tell his story.” He continued to tell me how during the holidays, as various family members hosted holiday gatherings, they each displayed the beads in some way; on the Christmas tree, fireplace mantle or among the buffet.
My support for the program was confirmed when one of our nurses forwarded an e-mail message from a former patient. His mother told the story of how in his last days when he was barely interacting, two of his nurses brought out his beads. He nodded with them as they spoke of how the beads were symbolic and told the story he was no longer able to tell.
The beads are distributed both on the inpatient unit and the outpatient MACC Fund Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, allowing patients to participate whether they are here for a short visit or an extended stay.
The beads are a tangible way for each child to express his or her very individual journey as he or she takes one day at a time in the fight against a life-threatening disease. With the giving of each bead there is therapeutic dialogue about the symbolism of the bead, how the patient is feeling about his or her current therapy and recognition for all the beads the child has collected to the unique story of his or her personal journey of strength and bravery.
The program has brought energy and excitement to patients and their families. I am grateful for the support of colleagues and the opportunity to bring this program to Children’s Hospital. I personally have been blessed in my nursing career. There are so many days when I leave work knowing in my heart that I am right where I am supposed to be. I look forward to reporting on the progress of the program, the monumental moments and heartwarming stories in the months and years to come.
It is true: There is great reward in the opportunity to do more.
Lisa Krueger, RN, MBA, patient care manager in the Hematology, Oncology and Transplant (HOT) Unit