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UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

Beads of Courage

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Titus and Jedidiah Chang © UC Regents 

Survivor stories  

Patients tell their own stories about treatment and recovery.

Robyn Raphael © UC Regents 

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Donors share their inspirational stories of why they support UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Giving to Cancer Center

Cancer patient Parmina V., with her beads of courage © UC regents 2010

One cancer center program being funded by the Keaton Raphael Memorial Foundation is Beads of Courage, which began in the UC Davis Children's Hospital as a collaboration between the Child Life Program and the outpatient nursing staff in the pediatric infusion room.

Each child patient is provided with a bead strand with his or her name. As treatment progresses, the child receives a unique, handmade glass bead to commemorate each procedural milestone. The result: a beautiful strand of beads that "tells" each child's story.

Beads of Courage provides children with something tangible to map the progress they make in their recovery, serving as a lasting reminder of their courage past and present, and builds important coping skills and resilience.

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"It's more than just a bead," says Raphael. "It's an outward symbol of everything the children go through. It has the power of turning something mundane and hurtful into something empowering."

The program delivers a year's supply of beads, storage containers, membership cards and posters for hospital patients and manuals for the staff. Two members of the Beads of Courage training team teach hospital staff the details of the program, qualifying them as "Beads of Courage Ambassadors." If a child dies, his or her family receives a special, hand-made butterfly bead to honor that child's memory.

Child Life Manager Diana Sundberg said the program helps children feel connected to others going through the same process.

"It gives them a sense of camaraderie," she says, "and helps them realize that they're not alone."