A New Bead Marks The Start of Treatment

A thread of beads representing the personal treatment journeys of young cancer patients at The Royal Children’s Hospital and Monash Children’s Hospital will now start with a special bead from the Children’s Cancer Foundation.  

Each new bead added as part of the ‘Beaded Journey’ therapeutic program marks a different event, treatment or milestone and the string becomes a powerful representation of each child’s progress.   

The Foundation has funded the program since it began in Australia in 2008. Since then, over a thousand strings of beads have been threaded by patients to symbolise their progress through treatment.

The program originated in Canada and was introduced to Australia by Kari Peters, a Comfort First, Procedural Pain Clinician at The Royal Children’s Hospital. 

“As a clinician, the Beaded Journey provides a fun, safe space for us to sit with children and young people away from their medical procedures,” says Kari, who facilitates the program.  

“It allows us to acknowledge their experience, assess how they are coping, provide feedback and encouragement, clarify misconceptions and provide information for upcoming procedures.”

As the Beaded Journey grows, Kari says families are often amazed to see how much has been accomplished, even over a short space of time. 

“A diagnosis of paediatric cancer often throws a family into chaos and it takes a while for routine and normality to fall into place. The beads demonstrate how far a family has come and how they managed to pull everything together.”  

The Children’s Cancer Foundation bead starts the Beaded Journey, followed by beads spelling each patient’s name, and then beads representing their diagnosis, a doctor’s visit, a procedure, a milestone such as end of radiotherapy or a special personal occasion like a birthday in hospital. Some strings can extend for metres as treatment pathways progress.  

“The Beaded Journey has a different meaning to each participant,” Kari says. 

“It is so nice to hear how the beads are shared with classmates, friends and family who mightn’t have grasped just how much work is involved in treating this disease, and to know that the Beaded Journey is proudly displayed after the work is all done.

Photo courtesy of Felipe Paz Photography
The Beaded Journey