Once upon a time a necklace put a big smile on a little girl’s face.
But Emily Venable’s necklace is more than just a colorful strand of beads. It tells the story of her fight against cancer.
This 5-year-old has more than 500 Beads of Courage. Each one represents a milestone to a cancer patient: chemotherapy, doctor visits, hair loss, MRIs, trips to the ER, X-rays, etc.
They come in different colors, shapes and patterns, but Emily and her mom can tell you what each one represents. “She has glow in the dark ones from radiation,” Kelly Venable explains. “The yellow ones are for every day of chemo.”
And this mother-daughter team cherishes each and every one.
When asked what the beads mean to them, Kelly replied with this: “I went through something hard, but I get something for it. It shows that someone appreciates what Emily is going through.”
Emily has a rare form of cancer. She spends four days at Children’s every two weeks for chemotherapy.
Like other patients, her Beads of Courage journey began with a string of beads that spelled out her name. Her necklace grows with each treatment, as does the sparkle in her eyes. “Emily gets excited when she sees the beads,” her mom says.
That feeling is mutual with Emily’s nurses, who hand out the beads. “They mean the world to us,” says RN April Estrada, coordinator of the Beads of Courage Program at Children’s. “Patients and their families are inspired by it. The beads are tokens they can hold on to, and they love getting them.”
For Emily, the beads provide a few moments of “happily ever after,” as she plays with them and gets a break from cancer.