Kids with cancer: Part IV: Community organizations, individuals provide relief to young patients

— “It is a difficult time for not only the patient, but for the entire family,” Bertrand said. “There are so many different needs families have, and we try to cater to those personal needs.”

The foundation also has specific programs for children. The most popular is the Beads of Courage program, which launched in February of 2010 at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. Each child is given a length of string and beads that spell out his or her first name. Colorful beads, each representing a different treatment milestone, are then given to the child by his or her physician to add to their collection throughout treatment. The initiative helps to decrease illness related stress, increase positive coping strategies, helps children find meaning in illness and restore a 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 treatment and after.

On the Maureen’s Hope website, mom Amy O’Bryan extolled the virtues of the program.

“My son Andrew was diagnosed with osteosarcoma and lost his leg to the cancer. He loved the Beads of Courage Program,” O’Bryan wrote. “Each bead represented a part of his journey and it gave him something special to look forward to and an outlet to help tell his story.”

Maureen’s Hope also helps children celebrate Easter with Spring Baskets delivered on Easter morning.

“People do so much during the Christmas season that we try to offer some smiles and support during other special times of the year,” Bertrand said.

Many of the initiatives are carried out by the Maureen’s Hope Youth Club, made up of about 80 ninth- through 12th-graders who fulfill whatever need exists among cancer patients.

“Watching these young men and women do for other children has been some of my most heartwarming moments,” Bertrand said. “Kindness from a stranger can mean so much.”

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