Beads for Courage help teen find the positives in her decade-long battle with disease (From Daily Echo)
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Sophie's Appeal backs beads scheme to support children fighting killer illness
Every little bead has its own story to tell.
They may be pretty, but for the children who collect them, they represent yet another painful or scary experience that they have bravely overcome.
And for Hannah Wright, the true extent of her fight against leukaemia is clear for everyone to see, having collected nearly 11,000 beads during her ten-year battle with the disease.
For the 18-year-old and all the other children who collect them they turn horrible experiences – like blood transfusions or chemotherapy sessions – into something positive that they can cling on to during the darkest times.
And now, thanks to a donation from Sophie’s Appeal, youngsters fighting cancer at Southampton General Hospital can be part of the Beads for Courage programme.
So far more than 100 patients have signed up to the initiative, which is spreading across the globe in a bid to reduce distress for poorly youngsters as they are forced to endure ongoing treatments.
Every time a child has a treatment they are given a handmade bead to add to their collection, with difference coloured beads for different treatments and special beads for landmarks, such as when a child loses their hair or they complete radiotherapy.
As well as acting as a coping strategy, the beads help children find a meaning to their illness and gives them something tangible that they can use to tell family and friends about their experience during their treatment.
Hannah said: “The beads make something positive out of horrible experiences and it’s nice to get special beads when something is over and done with.
“They make people realise exactly how much you go through and it’s not ‘just’ chemo you have to deal with.
“The beads also make it easier to tell people about your experiences, and of course they are really pretty. When my doctors ask if I will have extra treatment or tests I just tell them ‘It’s all about the beads.”
The initial running costs of £3,000 to get it started on the Piam Brown Children’s Ward have been donated by the Sophie Barringer Trust, which was set up in memory of Hannah’s friend Sophie who died aged six of kidney cancer.
Lin Barringer, Sophie’s mum and charity founder, added: “Sophie would have been proud of her beads and would have talked to and educated her family and peers about her experiences.
“For me, as a Mum, I wish this programme had been available to Sophie. I am sure during our darkest days Sophie’s beads would have, in some way, given us some comfort.”
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