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With Beads of Courage, Mary Bridge kids tell stories of strength

Posted on Jun. 20, 2013 ( comments)
Seven-year-old Ethan Goozovat was one of the first patients to be enrolled in the "Beads of Courage" program that came to Mary Bridge in October, thanks to support from the Jim and Jane Taylor family.

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 – a “sleepover” at the hospital.

White is for chemotherapy.

Ethan has 44 white beads.

“I love 'em so much,” Ethan says of the beads that fill three strands around his neck. “They mean courage and braveness.”

The beads are part of a program called “Beads of Courage” for children with chronic illness who receive treatment at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital.

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.

“The beads are beautiful and unique - they provide color in an otherwise gloomy situation,” Quinn said. “They 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.”

Stories of strength and courage

Each young patient receives a “Beads of Courage” kit that includes a “Daily Bead Journal” 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.

“It’s a way for them to share their story however they want,” said Julie Hertzog, Certified Child Life Specialist at Mary Bridge. “The people who participate love the program.”

The Hilltop Artists glass program in Tacoma even donated 900 “Act of Courage” beads. An “Act of Courage” 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.

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 for more information about the national program.

Posted in: Kids' Health

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