The project Chain of Courage for Children with Cancer is one of the most successful projects of VOKK, the Childhood Cancer Parent Organization in the Netherlands. At diagnosis, nearly all childern and adolescents with cancer in the Netherlands (about 600 new cases a year) start collecting their beads of courage.
The Chain of Courage is a silver lining in an intense period of time. Lots of children are looking forward to receiving a new bead. But the Chain of Courage so much more. It visualizes something intangible. It helps a childto understand what is happening to him and it helps him to handle the situation. The Chain of Courage tells the unique story of every child with cancer. It can be used to explain to a child what is happening and to prepare him for treatments. With the Chain of Courage, a child can tell his story to brothers, sisters, grandparents or classmates. And in case of little children, the HeroCord can help parents to tell him what he has been through when he is older.
The Chain of Courage helps a child to make it through the treatments. Afterwards, it is a tangible memory of a very significant episode of his life.
The Chain of Courage is free for all children diagnosed with cancer – 600 new diagnoses each year. The beads are specially made for the VOKK and are not available in trade.
The Chain of Courage is an ongoing project. Since our last report in August we have been donating beads to all children with cancer in the Netherlands. We work through the hospitals where this colourful and important project has been implemented since 2007. Since May this year, when our national pediatric oncology center Prinses Máxima was opened, we have also implemented the beads programme in the 20 so called Chared Care Centers and in the Home CareTeams to make sure every chils gets his or her beads, wherevere he/she is being treated. This works extremely well!
Every week we post a story of a child and his/her Chain of Courage on our Facebook https://www.facebook.com/kanjerketting/.
And recently we released a short clip about this fantastic program. Yoi can find the clip in Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cIeexwrg6U
A mother: "Our son Jaime just turned 5 jaar ans like last year we have hung his long Chein of Beads (531 beads) on the door; this time in the shape of a 5. Becuase his Chain of Beads belongs to our lives."
A survivor: "In te beginning I thought I was too old for a 'necklace' with beads, but now I know better! My Chain of Courage helped me through my 2 years of treatment and is now a precious trophy! I survived my cancer."
Our project Chain of Courage for children with cancer is running as usual. Since June 4, when our national pediatric oncology hospital Princess Máxima Center in Utrecht opened, the distribution has become easier. Weekly, our coordinator of the programme brings the beads to the center and only the beads for the shared care hospitals are sent by mail.
In July we released a short film on social media about the KanjerKetting: "Elke kraal vertelt een verhaal', which means "Every bead tells a story".
'I am Melissa, 19 yr. and I have acute lymfoblastic leukemia. I love my chain of courage; it really helps me and it tells my story.'
'Out baby has neuroblastoma and we hope that we can explain him later, when he is older and cured, what happened to him and us. His chain of courage is so important to us.''
Since our last update we have continued this great project that means so much to children with cancer, and their families. Every child receives a special bead for treatment and procedures and together the many beads form a colourful chain that represents the treatment history.
A father says: 'We are so grateful to VOKK for the Chain of Courage. It helped us to get an overview of what happend to our son. It helped our family and friends to understand what our son was going through. He finished his treatmend now and we now have the monthly checks. We enjoy life so much. Our son's Chain of Courage has a prominent place in our living room.'
A mother says: ''We knew the Chain of Courage, had seen it on TV and heard about it via friends. But we could never imagine the beads would enter our own life. But they did: a year ago our sons was diagnosed witt cancer. They entered our life, they entered our home. And we are zo 'glad' they did. Because our son looks forward to every bead and is proud to add it to his chain. He is nog there yet, but in a month or two we hope to add the flower bead to his chain: end of treatment.''
How can a little bead be of so much help to children with cancer, one could ask. The power is the story that the beads are telling as part of the Chain of Courage that a child buids. The Chain enhances the meaning of each individual bead and all these little beads together tell his or her treatment personal journey.
Who else than parents and children can better explain the power of a little bead.
'The night before our son passed away he needed an enema to reduce the pain in his belly. Sleepy as he was, he asked for his bead immediately after the procedure. A big smile when he received his little reward.'
'Somehow I missed the bead for two emergency admissions by ambulance. Is it possible to send me the beads so that I can complete my Chain of Courage? It is now incomplete.'
'It was very sopecial last year to also receive the special bead for International Childhood Cancer Day (ICCD). This year we are again in the hospital around ICCD and I really hope to have another ICCD bead for my Chain. This bead makes it very special and also shows how long my treatment is.'
'We are very happy with the new bead for immunotherapy.At the start of Jimme's IT, the bead wasn't there yet but we could add the first beads to Jimme's Chain of Courage afterwards. This is so important for him!'
'When Sanne died we chose the butterlfy bead to end het Chain of Courage. We believe she is free of pain now and dances in heaven like a butterfly. And every now and then she visits us when a butterfly sits on our garden table or on our hand. Her Chain of Courage has a special place in our living room.'
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Dutch Childhood Cancer Organisation /Vereniging Kinderkanker Nederland