GAMBIER — Saturday’s bead-making session at the Kenyon College Craft Center was wildly successful, according to manager Max Elder, a philosphy major. He said about 25 people came to make glass beads for the national Beads of Courage organization. Elder said the “big, sturdy, beautiful” beads are used by cancer patients, and others with severe illnesses, as a way to chronicle the progress of their treatment.
It all started with an oncology nurse who was also a glass bead maker.
“She started giving beads to her patients who were going through chemotherapy,” Elder said. “Then she developed a system where different colored beads represent different stages in the child’s sickness. For example, if it’s a cancer patient and they lose all their hair, they get a certain color bead. Or, if their life was saved due to something like a blood transfusion, they get a certain color bead. The nurse found that these patients, with the beads, were able to cope with the treatments a lot easier. They use the beads to kind of tell their story; there’s sort of a chronology to them.”