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'Journey Beads' help cancer patients mark milestones  

July 02, 2018

A diagnosis of cancer changes a person’s life, but observing, chronicling and celebrating the milestones of the cancer journey can be very beneficial.

“Journey Beads” are colorful glass beads the cancer patient can collect and wear on a black silk string.  Each bead symbolizes a specific procedure completed or trial endured, such as a blood transfusion, surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. 

“The beads are a testament to the patient’s strength and courage,” said Christina Boyd, vice president for Community Relations at UHS, who suggested the Journey Beads idea to the UHS Cancer Care Center staff.  “Each one represents a bright spot in the person’s life.”

The program, underwritten by the UHS Foundation, has proven extremely popular, said Jennifer Gusse, RN, manager of the Cancer Care Center at UHS Wilson Medical Center.

“People love it,” she said.  “Some patients come to the desk every day and ask for their bead.  One woman told us that now she looks forward to her treatment, because she can celebrate it with a bead.  It’s been highly successful, with both women and men.”

Beads and strings are kept at the front desks of the Medical Oncology and Radiation Oncology departments at UHS Wilson.  In addition, UHS’ cancer nurse navigators give patients cards that they can redeem for the beads at the front desks. 

Journey Beads are one more way the people of UHS demonstrate their caring and compassion for patients coping with life-changing health conditions.

Medical Oncology is located in Suite 100, and Radiation Oncology in Suite 101, Wilson Square, at 30 Harrison St. in Johnson City.