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Threading the Final Beads, George’s Story

“Here you see a mother, threading her son’s last beads. Hope lead us to believe that George would love these beads forever, and use them to tell his story. Now the beads are a parents reminder of the journey that was endured with strength, love and (unexpectedly) joy. 

At the age of 3, George was diagnosed with high risk Rhabdomyosarcoma (a soft tissue tumour to the side of his head). On his first day of treatment, he received the beads to spell his name and two special hearts – a blue one for mummy and green for daddy. He had other beads to represent blood tests, general anaesthetic, biopsy, surgery and the placement of his Hickman line. 

George adored his beads, reminding play staff and parents that he needed them. He would fill a cardboard sick bowl and carefully thread each one. As time moved on, he preferred to thread the beads in a pattern and would always choose to thread any special beads (like the ceramic courage beads) first. This small act of threading brought him joy and all of us much laughter when the sick bowl fell off the hospital bed (numerous times), scattering beads around our feet. 

Across three hospitals, the beads became the consistent reward for all difficult procedures. George’s favourites were his glow in the dark, Proton Beam and Radiotherapy beads that are given at the start of this treatment. He chose to keep these beads separate, in a frame, representing our six weeks at UCLH. 

When George’s treatment options had been exhausted, our hospital appointments swiftly came to an end. We chose to ring the end of treatment bell, on his Oncology ward, marking the journey of bravery he had come on with the hospital he loved so much. On this day, he received his end of treatment purple heart bead. George danced his way through treatment, smiling and making friends with staff along the way. This was a poignant moment to share with our hospital, despite being so sad. 

As he entered end of life care at the East Anglian’s Children’s Hospice, Addenbrookes hospital and Cambridgeshire’s community nursing team continued to supply George’s beads. They continued to bring joy.

Then just as the blow of a dandelion, on the 14th October, George took his last breath. Seventeen months since diagnosis. We are so proud of the resilient, kind, curious boy George grew into. Our forever 4 now joins the little stars lighting up the universe. 

In November, George’s final beads arrived. His mum threaded them, ensuring to make a pattern, and finishing the beads with his butterfly wings. They hang proudly in the hallway of his home, celebrating his ability to be present. Every day was his now, and he faced that day and then threaded his beads. The family look on at these beads, remembering every procedure or moment during the time he was so gently cared for by our NHS.

Beads of courage. Beads of joy.”

Lisa Radcliffe, Carer of our Just George Fund

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    This is exactly right.
    George, truly enjoyed each bead. He would have loved the butterfly wings too X from George’s Grandma Duck. Xx

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