Kids with cancer show so much courage and resilience as they endure all the probes, injections and tests of treatment. We think they deserve a medal.

That's why UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals adopted the Beads of Courage Program. We award our brave young cancer patients with a colorful bead for each procedure they go through and each treatment milestone they reach. Collecting their beads helps kids cope with illness, treatments and hospitalizations, providing something positive to focus on and instilling pride. By the time they complete treatment, kids have a strand of colorful beads, a map of their gutsy journey to good health.

"To see her history visually like this is pretty overwhelming," says one mom of a 3-year-old patient, as she studies her daughter's first strand of beads. Her daughter has earned enough beads for at least two strands, including 33 red beads for 33 blood transfusions, 100 white beads for 100 days of chemotherapy and eight glow-in-the-dark beads for eight radiation treatments. There's also a special handmade glass bead to acknowledge the day she made a special friend on her unit, and a blue glass bead for one particularly courageous day.

Our Oakland location was one of the first hospitals in the country to adopt this international program. Local artisans stepped up by donating some wonderful glass beads to celebrate these young warriors.