International Childhood Cancer Awareness Day takes place on Friday, 15th February. Each year, more than 300,000 children aged 0 to 19 years are diagnosed with cancer around the world. On average, 240 of these children are in Ireland and one in 270 children will be diagnosed with cancer before their 19th birthday. One in five of those children will not survive and those who do often suffer serious life long side effects. The disease has a devastating effect on the whole family who suffer emotionally, psychologically and financially throughout long and difficult treatment protocols.
Childhood Cancer Foundation is working to provide support for these families dealing with a cancer diagnosis. The foundation funds psycho social supports for children with cancer and their siblings on St John’s Oncology/ Haematology Ward in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin by way of a Play Specialist who helps ease the burden of hospitalisation and invasive treatment, and Beads of Courage®.
Beads of Courage® is an internationally recognised arts in medicine supportive care programme designed to help children understand and cope better with their cancer diagnosis. Children receive different colourful beads for each treatment milestone. The beads are meaningful symbols which mark their cancer journey and tell their story of courage and hope. We also extended the initiative by funding Sibling Beads, designed to help siblings share their own story of courage and to alleviate stress and anxiety, as they journey alongside their brother or sister coping with childhood cancer.
Ongoing evaluation of Beads of Courage® indicates that it helps to decrease illness-related distress, increase the use of positive coping strategies and restores sense of self in children coping with serious illness. It also provides something tangible that the child can use to explain their journey.
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