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Beth realized she was sick during her sophomore year in high school, but doctors either didn’t believe her or couldn’t determine what was wrong. So Beth took matters into her own hands. For several years, she kept a thick notebook of thoughts, online research and test results in an effort to solve the mystery of her symptoms.
She finally decided that the problem must be in her head—literally—and with her parents’ support, she pushed a California specialist for an MRI.
The brain scan showed what Beth had always suspected—she had a brain tumor called a craniopharyngioma.
Beth immediately started researching the best place for her treatment and her search led her to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, so she obtained a referral.
St. Jude offered a treatment plan that included proton beam therapy, which would shrink or kill Beth’s inoperable brain tumor while preserving her quality of life. While undergoing treatment, Beth began participating in the Legacy Bead Program hosted by St. Jude Child Life Department.
This activity allows patients to collect colorful, glass beads that represent their treatment experiences. Patients receive one bead for each event: a square, orange one for physical therapy; a green, cone-shaped bead for a CT scan; silver for a final chemotherapy session; gold for remission.
This creative teen even took lessons to learn how to blow glass and created a special bead for herself and a few friends who received proton beam therapy. She says, “I made each bead by hand with love and in hopes that each child that receives one will feel like they can conquer the world.”
Today, the Child Life Team supplies our own beads for patients who complete radiation therapy, but Beth’s legacy lives on here at St. Jude for everyone who met this brave girl who pushed until she received the treatment she needed to save her life.