"Legacy Beads" help St. Jude patients tell their stories - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Stories of Hope

"Legacy Beads" help St. Jude patients tell their stories

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Battling cancer is difficult, and sometimes victories can seem small and far apart, particularly for children who may not fully understand what’s happening.

“A lot of the things that our patients are doing are challenging and they’re hard and there’s no reward for that other than they’re doing these things so that they can help their body get better,” said Ashley Carr, a Child Life Specialist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The St. Jude Legacy Bead program gives patients a way to celebrate all of their achievements and share their story each step of the way.

Every patient receives a starter kit when they first arrive at the hospital that includes beads that spell out their name and a bead with a St. Jude logo.

From there, they add a bead for each treatment and procedure.

“Everything that happens to them while they’re here in the hospital, whether that be getting medication, having surgery, if they have a no more chemo party, if they have a dressing change, they collect a bead everywhere they go along the way,” said Carr.

With 55 beads from which to choose, the strands soon grow colorful and diverse. Green, cone-shaped beads represent CT scans, blue triangles stand for clinical visits and there are even blue, tear-shaped beads for homesickness.

“For a child to have a tangible something that the minute they’re done with that procedure or that surgery, they can ask their nurse or doctor, ‘Can I have my bead?’ There’s a sense of pride and accomplishment there,” said Carr.

Patients also can choose beads to represent important personal memories.

“For a 4-year-old a special accomplishment may be that their brother or sister came to visit for the first time. But for a 16-year-old, a special memory may be that they get to go to our teen formal or they got to graduate from high school,” said Carr.

The beads give each patient a way to talk about their journey, which can often be challenging for younger children.

“They may never fully understand until they’re older, the capacity of what they experienced. So this gives them something to carry with them, however long their life is, to be able to share their story,” said Carr.

Families sent to St. Jude never receive a bill so they can focus their time and attention on their child’s health. Your support for the hospital helps make that happen and ensure initiatives like the Legacy Bead program are available to patients.

“When they leave St. Jude or even if they go home for a visit, they have something tangible to look at and see the accomplishments that they’ve made.”

You can help support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through the 2016 St. Jude Dream Home giveaway

In Tennessee, tickets are available online, by phone at 1-800-750-6962 or at Regions Bank locations in Tennessee. Georgia residents can purchase tickets by phone or at a Regions Bank location in Tennessee.

Each ticket costs $100. A limited number of tickets are available and the past two giveaways have sold out early.

The St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway is one of the largest single-event fundraisers for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. It generates more than $290 million for the research and treatment of childhood cancer.

For more information about the giveaway, visit the Chattanooga Dream Home website.

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