It’s only been two days since Danielle AuBuchon, 13, received her “My Brave Journey” necklace in the Costas Center, but already she remembers the special meaning of almost every wooden bead on the string.
“This is for an overnight stay,” she says, pointing to a blue bead painted with a moon and star. “This one here is for bone marrow…” she stops to think of the word, “…aspiration. And this one is for a good day.”
The beads flow through her hands quickly as she names off several more, one for pokes, and others for visits from Child Life and chemotherapy.
“My Brave Journey” is a new program for cancer patients at Cardinal Glennon, funded by Friends of Kids With Cancer. Every cancer patient receives a necklace with his or her name, and they collect additional beads for each experience and treatment they undergo in the hospital.
“Sometimes when you see these kids you take for granted what they’re going through, but when you see it on these beads, you think ‘Wow, they are really brave,’” said Angie Ringsdorf, social worker, who helped organize the program. “This is something tangible. The whole idea is to have some way for the kids to document their journey, and it’s important for them to know that we know how courageous they are.”
Ringsdorf worked closely with oncology nurses Stephanie Collura and Laura Wulf to get the program off the ground, and the initial response has been extremely positive.
“It’s been outstanding,” Ringsdorf said. “It’s very neat to see parents so involved and proud of what their child has been through and survived. The kids are excited too. They’re making sure they get whatever beads they deserve - and they deserve it!”
Danielle said she plans to show her necklace to friends at school, who might not understand what happens when she comes to the hospital.
“I like that you can keep this forever,” she said. “It’s not just like memories, it’s a keepsake.”
Her mother, Zoeann, said the necklace will become part of a scrapbook Danielle has been keeping since her diagnosis in February.
“She keeps pictures of her with the nurses and doctors, so I know she will be adding this to her book as well,” AuBuchon said. “I think it’s great. It’s a way for the kids to work through everything. They all have to deal with it in their own ways, and Danielle’s been doing good with it.”
“My Brave Journey”
The Glennon foundation has set up a fund to help continue support of “My Brave Journey.” To donate, please contact the foundation at 577-5605, or www.glennon.org.