Beads of Courage program gives hope to children who battle cancer

PHOENIX (KSAZ) -- Children battling cancer are remembering each procedure they've gone through with a symbol of courage: a single bead.

The Beads of Courage program is in its 15th year, and the worldwide program got its start in Phoenix, where it launched at the Phoenix Children's Hospital 15 years ago.

The program is all about incorporating art in between children's treatments. Program leaders say it not only uplifts their spirits, but celebrates those milestones as something they overcame.

"There's sleepless nights," said Tammie Ponyah. Her daughter, Dareece, was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma two-and-a-half years ago.

"It's been a rollercoaster for us," said Ponyah.

Since then, Ponyah and her daughter record the number of beads they've earned in their "Beads of Courage" book.

"Going through chemotherapy and radiation," said Ponyah.

Each treatment means another bead to add to their necklace. The Beads of Courage was started by a pediatric nurse, who saw children given just a sticker for their amazing strength.

"Everyday, she witnessed going through things that might seem scary to them, might actually be painful," said Beads of Courage spokesperson Becca Gladden.

What started as a pilot program at Phoenix Children's Hospital is now available at hospitals across the country, and even in Europe, Canada and Asia.

"She wanted to do something that would really encourage them, and document their journeys," said Gladden.

And parents like Ponyah say when they look at their beads...

"I look back, I do get emotional because she's been through a long journey and it's been really tough for her," said Ponyah.

But it also gives Ponyah and her family strength.

"The Beads of Courage really encourages her to have strength, to get up every morning, to she's got something to live for," said Ponyah.

Beads of Courage - Make a monetary donation

Beads of Courage - Donate Beads