Cohen’s “Beads of Courage”

I think I’m ready to start participating in some of the programs we heard about prior, during and after Cohen’s stay in the hospital. For a while I’ve felt like I didn’t know when I would want to, but I knew I would. It will probably feel like a constant reminder of so much that he went through, but it’s kind of like, well what isn’t? There are SO many heart babies. This post is about the Beads of Courage Program Cohen participated in while he was in the hospital. Now, we will participate and donate some beads.

When we first got to Children’s, the staff notified of us the Beads of Courage program. It seemed like a wonderful program. Things moved quite quickly with Cohen and our little boy was so very courageous. He earned LOTS of beads that we will cherish forever. It is definitely an item that will be in something fireproof when we aren’t home.

I gathered some information from the Beads of Courage website. All the information below tells you about the program. Below that, I will show some of the pictures of Cohen’s beads and pictures of us stranding his beads. He earned many “special” beads and even a bead from another Cohen. I plan to gather some beautiful beads to send for the program.

beads of courage program

our main program defined

Every bead tells a story of strength, honor and hope.

What is the Beads of Courage Program?

The Program is a resilience-based intervention designed to support and strengthen the protective resources in children coping with serious illness. Through the program children tell their story using colorful beads as meaningful symbols of courage that commemorate milestones they have achieved along their unique treatment path.

how it works

Upon enrollment each child is given the Beads of Courage bead color guide with a detachable membership card. Their Beads of Courage journey begins when each child is first given a length of string and beads that spell out their first name. Then, colorful beads, each representing a different treatment milestone are given to the child by their professional health care provider to add to their Beads of Courage collection throughout their treatment as determined by the Beads of Courage Bead Guide (available from Beads of Courage, Inc.) There are specific Beads of Courage Program Bead guides for cancer, cardiac conditions, burn injuries, and serious illness. All Program bead guides were developed in collaboration with experts in the field (nurses, doctors, child life specialists and social workers) so that each bead guide would reflect meaningful acknowledgment of a child’s treatment journey. 

major benefits

Ongoing evaluation of the Beads of Courage program indicates that the program helps to decrease illness-related distress, increase the use of positive coping strategies, helps children find meaning in illness, and restore sense of self in children coping with serious illness. The program also provides something tangible the child can use to tell about their experience during cancer treatment and after.

why beads?
interesting facts

Throughout history, in cultures across the world, beads have had a huge number of functions. Here are a few interesting facts.

Beads signify strength and courage

Just like medals, ribbons and certificates, many ancient and modern-day cultures use beads to show bravery and accomplishment. They have long been used to protect warriors from natural and supernatural enemies, along with lending special magical protection for heroes during long journeys.

Beads have every-day uses

They have served many practical purposes throughout history, from weighing down scrolls, saddle blankets and table cloths to serving as calculators (like the abacus) to prayer tools (like the rosary). Today, we see beads in mats, car seats, and curtains. Can you think of any ways that people use beads today?

Beads carry value

Beads have been traded for everything from gold to beaver pelts, ivory to spices, and even slaves. Societies across the world have made beads from tortoise shells, wood, pottery, sea shells, seed, ivory, stone, egg shells, animal teeth, bone, claw and horn…and glass. Some of the world’s most talented glass artists devote their whole careers to making beads.

In many societies, beads are believed to carry protective and healing powers

Did you know that the Egyptian word sha means “luck” and sha-sha means “bead”? The Magical Eye bead of Turkey is believed to ward off evil. In parts of Asia, beads were scattered like seeds at temples to induce bountiful harvests.

Beads signify status

In China, during the Qing (pronounced “ching”) Dynasty, officials, army officers, their wives and children were required to wear strings of court beads. The Emperor himself had to wear special beads. For the Asante people of West Africa, kings and other great people get the privilege of wearing Bodom beads. In our own society beads of pearl, gold and precious stones can be symbols of wealth and prestige.

Given the length of time people have been fascinated with beads (over 43,000 years!), as well as their usefulness for counting, adorning and symbolizing importance, they’re just right for recognizing and recording your courage as you travel this journey.

Cohen got lots of beads. Each bead was because of a surgery, needle prick, medication, etc…

The cool and unique beads were for something major, which he earned several of. I believe for heart surgery, cardiac arrests, etc. As you saw above, on the sides of his name he had a heart and a lion. We believe he had the heart of a lion :)

One of the first few days at Children’s, some of the nurses brought us a bead they had picked out. When they opened it up, they found it was from another Cohen! That was way cool!

This is the bad that was made for Cohen’s beads to be kept in as he was awarded them….

Here Brent and I are stranding all his beads…..

We enjoyed the program at Children’s. It taught us about everything Cohen was going through and achieved.

 April, if you are reading, I need your email address :)



  1. says

    Okay – this totally made me cry! This is so neat – they don't do this at our Children's Hospital (Cincinnati) but I wish they did! I'll have to try and figure out a way to suggest it! Thanks for sharing. Your experiences will be a great help and comfort to someone when you're ready. And I think Cohen definitely had the heart of a lion!!!! I noticed the lion bead before you mentioned it and thought the same thing!!!

  2. says

    That's such a cool program, and I'm so happy that you two have such a special treasure. Children's is such a wonderful hospital, and I'm happy they do this. Do you know if the program is funded through donations? It's definitely something I'd get behind.

  3. says

    That's so beautiful. Seeing how many beads Cohen earned made me cry (again) because for such a tiny little man he went through so much. On the outside looking in, I realized he went through a lot of things, but visualizing all those beads during the short time of his life really made it more clear to me.

    What a wonderful, wonderful program.

    Now I have to go redo my makeup because I need to get to work. God bless you!!!

  4. says

    What an amazing program! Thank you for sharing your beads and this information with us. What a precious thing to give a child and the family of a child in the hospital!

  5. says

    Megan,I came across your story on your mother-in-laws photo blog. It is both one of the most inpiring and heartbreaking things that I have ever read. You seem like an amazing woman and I wish you and your husband all the luck in the world. God Bless!

  6. says

    These beads sound like a wonderful idea! I have to say it took my breath away for a few minutes when I saw how many your sweet son got. The sheer volume makes my heart hurt for you guys. I'm glad that there are people that think of little things like this, I can imagine what they mean to a toddler or older child. Great organization!

  7. says

    Such a sweet post, Megan.

    They didn't do this for us.. but ever since I saw it on your blog I thought it was the sweetest idea ever.

    Amazing what our boys went through in just 12 days.

    Love him, Love you.


  8. says

    I've never heard of this program, but I think it's cool. It's so special that you guys have Cohen's beads and I know that's something you will cherish forever.

  9. says

    I Am so sorry for your loss. I think about you and cohen every day. He was so precious and I believe that you are so brave and strong. Thank you for sharing him with us. I Am hoping the pain and sadness in your heart is lessening.

  10. says

    Wow, the Beads of Courage program is really well thought out and planned. Cohen was such a strong little fighter. Seeing that many beads just makes me tear up thinking about all he had to go through. I'm glad you have this memory of him that proves just how strong he was.

  11. says

    I found your blog when you commented on mine and I am so happy that we have connected. Already I can tell you are amazing and strong and being that I'm 25 and we are starting a baby journey of our own, my husband and I can't even imagine what you guys have already been through.

    I look forward to reading your words much more! Your story is heartbreaking and strength inspiring all rolled into one. You are amazing girl!

  12. says

    the beads of courage program is absolutely amazing! my daughter laken was in the room next to your sweet Cohen. I stumbled across your blog through another blog and just wanted to let you know we pray for you guys often.

  13. says

    Megan–I read this yesterday morning after sitting in the hospital with my 3 year old. I had JUST finished his Bead tally for the past few days when I saw your post :) It's such a cool program! I know how much you treasure Cohen's beads. His are awesome!!

  14. says

    I think I may have told you this before, but we have a dear friend in the Dallas area that works for Beads of Courage and she is passionate about it. It really is such a great organization and such sweet people behind it. I love Cohen's beads. I'm so glad you have them!!

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