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Beads of Courage Program

beads of courage

The Johns Hopkins Beads of Courage Program has been an overwhelming success due to the generosity of Courtney’s Fund and the multi-disciplinary collaboration of the Pediatric Oncology Team. Through the program, children tell their story, using colorful beads as meaningful symbols of courage that commemorate milestones they have achieved along their unique treatment path. Patients as young as three-years up to the twenty- years of age find joy and pride in the experience of receiving, tallying and telling others about the significance of their beads.

Johns Hopkins Pediatric Oncology is pleased to participate in Beads of Courage, a national program designed to honor the challenging journey that children take while experiencing cancer and related treatments.  A child receives a bead for procedures, tests and treatment milestones.  The collection of beads become a symbol of courage and serves to remind them, their family and friends of all they have accomplished along their treatment path.

For more information, please visit Beads of Courage

Reflection of the Beads of Courage Program from Patient Ambassador, Neha

It’s can be unnerving to realize how much cancer treatment is like a story.  A story about a war against oneself, a war to continue surviving, a war to return one’s life to the potential it had before cancer. There is a reason cancer patients are called warriors, for they are fighters in this war. 

The treatment is the battle plan in the war to live, and the chemotherapy, the radiation, the surgeries, are like battles, battles against oneself. And just as it is dishonorable to ignore or forget any of the battles in a war, it is also dishonorable to forget what one has done to overcome cancer in their own personal war. It is dishonorable, after treatment, to forget what one’s life has cost. However, this is a very common problem for cancer patients.

Because the battle to live has so many unpleasant skirmishes, afterward, many of them end up blending together, until patients start forgetting what they’ve been through. Yet every chemo, every radiation, every surgery holds importance. That’s why Johns Hopkins participates in the Beads of Courage Program.

Created by Jean Baruch, a Pediatric Oncology nurse, in 2004, the Beads of Courage program gives children a bead after they have undergone a hospital related incident. Children who participate in the program receive different colored beads that represent milestones, procedures, and acts of bravery. This program rewards children for their accomplishments, and allows children to celebrate and track their progress.  More than that, it also gives children a way to get through future procedures, because they know that, at the end, they will get another bead to add to their collection.

It is not uncommon for children to amass bead strands that are multiple feet long, filled with beads that represent the child’s treatment.  Not only do the beads allow children to remember their journey though cancer, and their accomplishments, but the beads also provide closure to the parents.

Beads of Courage sends a special, handmade, butterfly bead to any family that has lost a child to Pediatric Cancer. Traditionally, the Beads were sent a couple months after the child passed away, but they have become so helpful in allowing the parents to grieve that many are given soon after the child is gone.

Beads of Courage also rewards special acts of courage that the patient has undergone by giving the patient a handmade bead. The beads not only help children remember what they have gone through, but they also serve as the child’s story. The child can proudly point to the beads and show others what they’ve been through, the war they’ve fought for their right to live, and the battles that came along with the war. For life is a pricey gift, and the children in pediatric oncology have learned and understood its true cost. 


Johns Hopkins Children's Center

Pediatric Oncology facilities are located in the Johns Hopkins Children's Center.




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