With Beads of Courage, Mary Bridge kids tell stories of strength
On a long and colorful necklace, each bead tells a story.
At Mary Bridge for treatment of Hodgkins Lymphoma, 7-year-old Ethan Goozovat rolls the beads between his fingers and explains the meaning of each color.
Orange is for central line placement.
Yellow is for each inpatient admission â€“ a â€śsleepoverâ€ť at the hospital.
White is for chemotherapy.
Ethan has 44 white beads.
â€śI love Ă˘â‚¬Ëśem so much,â€ť Ethan says of the beads that fill three strands around his neck. â€śThey mean courage and braveness.â€ť
The beads are part of a program called â€śBeads of Courageâ€ť for children with chronic illness who receive treatment at MultiCare Mary Bridge Childrenâ€™s Hospital & Health Center.
Earlier this month in the oncology clinic, Ethan became the first child to receive the special â€śSignature Heartâ€ť bead that symbolizes the completion of his treatment.
â€śI think it eased the tension of the treatments, knowing he was going to get a bead,â€ť said Jennifer Brown, Ethanâ€™s mom.
How â€śBeads of Courageâ€ť came to Mary Bridge
Ethan was one of the first patients to be enrolled in the â€śBeads of Courageâ€ť program that came to Mary Bridge in October, thanks to support from the Jim and Jane Taylor family.
â€śThe Taylor family brought Beads of Courage to Mary Bridge in honor of my cousin Aaron Schulte,â€ť said Quinn Taylor, Jim and Janeâ€™s 23-year-old daughter. â€śWhen searching for a way to honor Aaron's life, we wanted to find something fun and meaningful to bring to Mary Bridge, and we found Beads of Courage to be the perfect combination.â€ť
Aaron was 26 years old when he died April 2, 2007 after a yearlong battle with colon cancer. Aaron lived in Tacoma and volunteered with young oncology patients at Mary Bridge - he loved pulling Bingo balls on Thursday nights.
â€śThe beads are beautiful and unique - they provide color in an otherwise gloomy situation,â€ť Quinn said. â€śThey are simple tokens that recognize and celebrate success, strength, and perseverance. I only hope that Beads of Courage brings joy and fosters pride in ill children. Aaron changed many lives, and I aspire to live my life as completely, as positively, and as courageously as Aaron lived his. My family and I hope that Beads of Courage will inspire ill children to stay positive, celebrate success, and continue living life to its fullest.â€ť
Stories of strength and courage
Each young patient receives a â€śBeads of Courageâ€ť kit that includes a â€śDaily Bead Journalâ€ť to track their experiences. There are about 35 beads that represent milestones, procedures and acts of bravery. Every bead tells a story of hope, strength, and courage.
â€śItâ€™s a way for them to share their story however they want,â€ť said Julie Hertzog, Certified Child Life Specialist at Mary Bridge. â€śThe people who participate love the program.â€ť
The Hilltop Artists glass program in Tacoma even donated 900 â€śAct of Courageâ€ť beads. An â€śAct of Courageâ€ť bead symbolizes a time when a child showed remarkable strength. For one girl, that meant asking to shave her head before the chemotherapy had a chance to steal her hair. For another child, that meant dealing with the death of a pet dog.
Of his more than 100 beads, Ethanâ€™s favorite is the anchor. A card that accompanied the bead describes the anchor this way: â€śYour family, friends and caregivers are thinking of you and offer the anchor as a symbol of hope. The anchor was often a seamanâ€™s last resort in stormy weather, it is the anchor that remains firm and steady amidst the stormy waters. We hope that the anchor will be a symbol of strength for you to help see you through the Ă˘â‚¬Ëśstormsâ€™ of life.â€ť
When Ethan isnâ€™t wearing his necklace, he hangs it above his bed, on a cross with an angel.
â€śItâ€™s going to be something he can keep forever,â€ť said his mom. â€śWhen he gets older, he can show his own kids how brave he was.â€ťNot to forget the reason why â€śBeads of Courageâ€ť came to Mary Bridge, every necklace includes an â€śAaron Schulteâ€ť bead, designed by his cousin Quinn.
On the bead, Aaron is wearing boxing gloves, fists up, strong in the face of a challenge.
â€śHe was the greatest person I've ever met, and his presence alone made my world a little brighter,â€ť Quinn said. â€śHe was more than family to us - he was and will always be an absolute inspiration. Through sickness and health, he lived and celebrated every single day of his life.â€ť
If you know of a young patient who has been diagnosed with a chronic illness who may be interested in the Beads of Courage program encourage them to talk with their Mary Bridge Outpatient clinic staff about getting enrolled. Check out www.beadsofcourage.com for more information about the national program.
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