News / Edmonton

Bravery beads and personalized notes from donors encourage sick kids at Stollery

According to the type of donation a child receives — such as red blood cells, plasma, platelets — different coloured beads are attached to the message

Aidan Sheets, a patient at the Stollery Children’s Hospital, says her note makes her smile.

Sanam Islam/Metro

Aidan Sheets, a patient at the Stollery Children’s Hospital, says her note makes her smile.

It’s been a difficult journey for 10-year-old Aidan Sheets since she was diagnosed with brain cancer early last year. 

But the Stollery Children’s Hospital patient is finding encouragement through a beaded necklace and a special handwritten message attached to it. 

“It says ‘smile,’” she says. “It’s special and it makes me smile when I look at it.” 

Sheets received the message, along with a bead, from a blood donor after undergoing a transfusion. 

The message is part of a project called “Be Brave” that was started last year by Canadian Blood Services in partnership with the Stollery Hospital and the Kids with Cancer Society. 

“It’s a great way for our donors to make that personal connection with a pediatric patient. Both the donors and patients enjoy being able to make those connections,” says Kerry Cable, territory manager at Canadian Blood Services. 

So far, about 75 cancer patients have received messages since the campaign was introduced last year. 

“They’re stuck in their beds, and it’s kind of neat for them that someone out there cares even though they’ve never met them,” says Tara Graham, director of development at the Kids with Cancer Society. 

According to the type of donation a child receives — such as red blood cells, plasma, platelets — different coloured beads are attached to the message. The beads are then added to a necklace that the kids already have as part of an existing Stollery Hospital program called The Beaded Journey. 

That program allows cancer patients at the Stollery to collect a variety of colourful beads symbolizing milestones in their treatment. 

Sheets, who has collected about 200 beads for her necklace, is proud to show them off. 

“I like the bead I got for my CAT scan — it’s pretty funny because it’s a cat,” she says. 

But her favourite? A colourful cube-shaped bead that she was happy to receive when she finished radiation therapy. “I didn’t really like radiation because I had to lay still for an hour and a half,” she says.

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