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The courage pearl string - for 13-year-old Peggy and other children and young people with cancer, a motivation to keep on fighting

Peggy is 13 years old and is being treated at Essen University Hospital. It takes her and her mother about two hours to drive from home to Essen, where she spends days or even weeks for individual treatment steps. This is the case for many children and adolescents, sometimes for months or even years, depending on the course of the disease. Often these children live with their families in our parental home.


The Essen Parents' House


The many ups and downs of this time can be documented by those affected with the so-called "courage pearl string" - almost like a treatment diary. For every intervention, every examination and every step of treatment, a special pearl has been developed, which the children and adolescents can gradually string into a necklace. For example, there is a 3-coloured bead for a chemo day, a bead as a small colourful cap for losing hair, or a green or pink spinning top for a "really terrible" or "super good" day. We as an association decided many years ago to take over the procurement and financing for the children with cancer in the Essen hospital.


The "courage pearls box" with a small selection of pearls.


Experience shows that this is simply good for the children from many points of view. It is not uncommon for strings several metres long to come together, which the people concerned can use to see what they have already achieved.


Peggy has been collecting beads since 22 June 2021. The chain is already longer than the 1.60 metre tall girl.


Peggy has a little notebook in which she meticulously notes down which treatments and consequently which beads she receives every day. Every now and then she sits down with our educator, Mrs Meyer, who we employ on the oncological children's ward, and the two of them then go through all the steps together again, talk to each other and pick out the individual beads from the big colourful bead case.


Peggy keeps track of the treatment steps and the beads she is still "entitled" to.


"It's really great how conscientiously Peggy notes everything down. She knows exactly which pearls she needs and none of them should be missing. I find it very impressive how she does that". For Peggy, the ever-growing string has several meanings: "The courage pearl string is supposed to give me courage to keep fighting and to remind me after my therapy what I had to go through"


Threading the new pearls illustrates to Peggy what she has already achieved. Our educator accompanies her.


For many children, this string also makes it easier to tell their family or friends about the stressful and painful experiences of the treatment. For the time after treatment, the 13-year-old has also already thought of something great: "I think I will hang the string next to the picture of my grandma and grandpa, because they died of cancer and the string would then hang there to show that cancer can also be beaten."


The educator, Ms Meyer, is employed by our association and looks after the children and adolescents in the oncological children's ward on our behalf.


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