‘Beads of Courage’ program helps young cancer patients celebrate the courage to fight

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- A new program is helping patients celebrate meaningful milestones on their journey to recovery.

Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent recently became the first Indiana member hospital to offer the 'Beads of Courage' program.

Through Beads of Courage, children and teens receive colorful beads that visually commemorate treatment and procedure milestones.

"Being a patient in the hospital and having one of these diagnoses is very difficult and a lot of times overwhelming," said Charlotte Lammers, clinical supervisor and oncology nurse at Peyton Manning Children's Hospital. "This serves as a marker for them that they can look back on and see what they overcame."

Each colorful bead represents an obstacle a patient has overcome while receiving treatment for cancer.

Isabelle Welch started collecting beads when she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma last October.

"These are important because it represents my life and cancer-- my journey and my story," said Welch.

The 14-year-old Peyton Manning Children's Hospital patient has collected more than 2,000 colorful beads since her diagnosis.

14-year-old Isabelle Welch

"When you start at this bead around her name, you never imagine what you're going to have on this table and everything that she has to go through," said Isabelle's father, Jeremy Welch. "But, when she looks at this, she doesn't think of all the pain or the things she had to do. She really looks at this as a positive experience."

Through the program, Isabelle had the chance to submit an application to create her 'Dream Bead' which she asked to be in the shape of a fist, inspired by Marvel Comics character, 'The Hulk', symbolizing her strength while fighting cancer.

Isabelle and her parents, Jeremy and Catrina

"My advice to other kids, is when they look at their beads, that these remind them of happy memories," said Welch. "I also said to the kids, 'never, ever give up.'"

The Beads of Courage program is now a part of more than 290 children's hospitals worldwide.

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