Beads of Courage, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization transforming the treatment process for children and teens coping with serious illness through innovative Arts-in-Medicine programs. DONATE TODAY.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Guest Blog Post - Hair Loss: One Bead’s Story

Submitted by Bead Mom Lindsey ...

It took twenty days from diagnosis for my three-year-old daughter to lose her hair. The golden strands I watched her twirl between her sweet toddler fingers was now clumping into knots and itching her skin as it stuck to her sick body.  

Adaleigh had been diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia B-Cell (ALL) on August 13, 2019 after a suspicious looking ear infection landed us in the emergency room. Digesting the news was hard and her super-hero oncologist explained to us that among a myriad of other side effects of treatment, she would lose her hair in just a few weeks.  

From a mom’s perspective, things had moved so quickly for our energetic-silly Addie, who spent her days twirling in sunshine and making friends with ladybugs. Now we felt the heaviness of these isolating four walls, endless syringes filled with mystery liquids, and our daughter’s newest accessory—her IV pole. Before cancer she had a catchphrase to describe her ability to face fear with her sunshine-y sparkle, and thus "Sparkly Brave" was created. 

As a trauma therapist, I knew the importance of connecting during crisis, retelling our trauma story, and simply walking through this mess with authenticity. With this concept of storytelling in mind, I decided to speak with our Child Life Specialist: "Is there something that you know of that is like a visual calendar kind of thing, to help her see her milestones?" This is when the specialist smiled, "Has anyone ever told you about the Beads of Courage program?" While I had never heard of it—I breathed in every word like it was a life raft in our cancer storm and I knew that we were ALL in!

On day twenty, I placed the "hair loss" bead in her hot pink and glitter-polished hands and she clutched it really hard. Suddenly she knew exactly what this moment was. She beamed her Sparkly Brave smile and held her bead-clutched fist to her heart and said "I’m ready now! Let’s go!"  

Adaleigh kept her bead clutched in her fist when she winced from the new sounds of clippers buzzing, when she was confused by her once beautiful curls falling to the ground, and when she didn’t have words to associate with the pain of walking into a new journey filled with unknowns and fears. Through the medicine, pain, cancer, and confusion, she was able to bravely sit while holding her bead. And we affirmed as she bravely proclaimed, "I will miss my hair, but it’s not forever."  

After her haircut she asked me proudly if she could place her new bead on her strand alongside her transfusions, her chemotherapy, her emergency room pokes, and her surgeries. From this day forward, placing a bead on her string became a way to celebrate these treatment milestones immediately—while the "sparkly brave magic" still lingers.

Those twenty days were painful. I ran my finger over her beads feeling deep devastation, loss, grief, hope, love, connection, but mostly—I felt how the power of a bead can give significance to a piece of a story that was experienced, but maybe not processed yet. I closed my eyes and imagined her telling her story of bravery through her beads of courage: during show and tell, at graduation speeches, on her wedding day, in leadership roles, to her future children. 

It was more than beads strung together: it was the weight of pain and grief, the glittered triumph of hope, mixed with textures of medical interventions and a kaleidoscope of battles that only her journey could tell. These are her Beads of Courage and this is just one of their stories.

Lindsey N. Wamsley M.A., LPC, TBRI®-Practitioner

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A note from Beads of Courage: As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, we rely on the support of generous donors like you to provide Beads of Courage programs in 300 children's hospitals around the world. Please consider joining the Courage Keepers, our new monthly donor program, and becoming part of our honored Courage Keepers community. We are forever grateful for your support of our mission to bring hope and healing to the bedside of children like Adeleigh and all the courageous warriors we support. Thank you.  

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Summer of ART Guest Blog Post - Patty Gallagher, Bead Bag Stitcher

Yes, I love color! And I also love beads. I collect them and I do lots of creative things with them, but I don’t make them. I can, however, sew. I have been doing that my entire life. So when I first learned about the Beads of Courage Program, I knew I wanted to contribute in any way that I could. 

What a marvelous idea! To maybe put a smile on someone's face. For a smile is the universal symbol of kindness and love. To make a bag that holds a memory for a milestone, I can do that!

I do what I do because it feels so good to give in any way that I can. And I am happiest when I can make something handmade from the heart. 

I choose to see the world in color. But I know there are many days that just aren’t that way. Especially when one is not feeling well and most definitely when having to deal with a life-altering medical diagnosis.

As a two-time cancer survivor myself, I know a little bit about that experience. So if I can make a child, a teenager or a family member smile for just a moment when they see something with beautiful, bright and happy colors to carry with them on their journey, well, that makes me smile.

I'm always looking for material. I pop in a Goodwill store or whenever there is a sale at a local craft store, I’m there.

The world needs more kindness and I'm honored to be able to help.

For all the smiles,
Patty G.

Note from BOC: From June through September, we are shining a spotlight on four amazing communities of volunteer artists and crafters who support our mission year-round with their beautiful donated goods. The handcrafted beads, bags and bowls they donate strengthen our arts-in-medicine mission and bring beauty to the bedside of kids coping with serious illness.

YOU can help with a monetary gift to the Summer of ART fundraising campaign. Be a rock star! Donate $50 or more and receive this awesome TIE DYE T-shirt as our exclusive thank-you gift just for Summer of ART supporters! PEACE. LOVE. ART.


Monday, June 22, 2020

Summer of ART Guest Blog Post - Elisabeth Smith Ross, Member of the American Association of Woodturners

Note from BOC: From June through September, we are shining a spotlight on four amazing communities of volunteer artists and crafters who support our mission year-round with their beautiful donated goods. The handcrafted beads, bags and bowls they donate strengthen our arts-in-medicine mission and bring beauty to the bedside of kids coping with serious illness.

YOU can help with a monetary gift to the Summer of ART fundraising campaign. Be a rock star! Donate $50 or more and receive this awesome TIE DYE T-shirt as our exclusive thank-you gift just for Summer of ART supporters! 


Guest blogger Elisabeth Smith Ross shares:

I first heard about the Beads of Courage program after I became a member of the American Association of Woodturners, which I joined in early 2015. I was new to the scene of the woodturning community, and I was not even a woodturner. I was a homeschooling mom of 3 selling woodturning materials out of my garage. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Guest Blog Post - Heather Stemas, Art Therapist

Art Cards decorated by Heather Stemas and family

Art Therapist Heather Stemas shares ...

Hospitalization and chronic illness can take a toll on a person. In addition to physical pain, invasive procedures and discomfort, separation from educational, recreational and community supports are common and can lead to feelings of depression, and isolation. As an art therapist working with kids with acute and chronic illness, I’ve seen how art and art making can help kids and teens transcend limits, communicate what can’t be said, celebrate what they value and so much more. It provides a way for them to record, reorder, and re-imagine their stories.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Fifty for Phoebe

When Susan Regan and Jessica Boettner met in Tucson in 2008, they felt a bond that quickly grew into a close friendship. At the time, neither of them could have foreseen the life-altering challenges they would face together and the impact one local nonprofit organization would have on both their lives. 
On November 13, 2013, Susan gave birth to her second daughter, Phoebe. She was a beautiful baby with wispy brown hair and deep, sparkling eyes. Friends and family adored her, especially her big sister, 3-year-old Hannah. 

Phoebe was born with a rare chromosomal abnormality which caused life-threatening complications, including congenital heart defects and a lung condition called pulmonary interstitial glycogenosis. Though doctors successfully repaired two holes in Phoebe’s heart, the steroids they gave her to help her lungs suppressed her immune system, leaving her susceptible to serious infections. 

Friday, August 16, 2019


If you’re familiar with Beads of Courage, you already know about our mission to support the most courageous kids on Earth – children coping with cancer and other serious illnesses.  Now, it’s time to tell the whole world about our work and showcase YOU, our honored members, families, clinicians, supporters, donors and friends.

World Beads of Courage Day (WBOCD) takes place during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, which is also our Bead Challenge month!  We have many activities planned for September and invite you to be a part of this Global Celebration of Courage.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Team from Roche Participates in Polymer Bead-Making Class

Many thanks to members of the Roche team in Tucson for taking part in our polymer bead-making classes!

"Recently, I was looking for a volunteer opportunity and became aware of Beads of Courage. After finding out more about the positive impact these handmade beads have on children, I looked into the bead-making class, which my husband and I took and enjoyed.