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About this blog

Vega was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) in 2012. By June 2014 she had completed intensive treatment followed by maintenance treatment. Vega's mum, Kathi, blogs about the experience. Blog written by: Kathi, Vega's mum

  • Patient Name: Vega
  • Cancer Type: Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL)
  • Age when diagnosed: 3

Vega’s treatment in numbers

3rd June 2020

Vega now has 1,632 beads

At every stage of cancer treatment, children receive a new Bead of Courage. The beads join together to form (often long) physical representations of their recovery, keeping a record of every hospital trip and treatment on their courageous journey. The Beads of Courage help to decrease illness-related distress and increase positive coping strategies to support children and their families.

Over the last two years Vega has collected beads for chemotherapy, port access, investigations, acts of courage, hair loss… well anything. You name it, there is a bead for it.

Here are some numbers…

  • 114 weeks, or 798 days on treatment, not including the 16 days left on our countdown.
  • 86 nights in hospital. Believe me or not, I think that is pretty good actually, considering the length of treatment.
  • Approx 750 individual doses of chemotherapy. Yep, huge number. And I think I rounded that up towards the bottom end. These have been made up from 7 different type of chemotherapy drugs.
  • 131 days of steroids. We have 5 more before the end of treatment. 131 days of total misery.
  • Approx 300 blood tests. Vega has weekly blood tests but we have had countless weeks when she used to have more than two. Huge amount of lab work.
  • 21 blood transfusions.
  • 29 x-rays, 1 CT scan, 1 echocardiogram, 1 linogram, 8 ultrasounds.
  • 19 lumbar punctures, 3 bone marrow tests, 1 port insertion, 22 general anaesthetics.
  • 114 consecutive weeks on antibiotics (weekend only).
Vega's beads of courage

A legacy that goes beyond weeks and beads

I have no numbers for the buckets of salt water I have shed over this. No documentation for how many sick bowls Vega has filled, how often I have ordered repeat prescriptions, how many sleepless nights we have had, or how much pain was endured.

I am under no illusion about this countdown. We will not suddenly end up in fairyland come the end of treatment. Considering the history above it is understandable that this treatment will have a legacy that goes beyond weeks and beads. There is no guarantee Vega will be cured after this. There will always be a chance for it to come back. I think one has to make peace with that thought – if that is possible. But regardless of the future, this part is coming to an end. And right now it feels so very satisfying to see that.

Children with Cancer UK is delighted to support the Beads of Courage Oncology Programme in the UK. The Beads of Courage UK programme offers support and strength to families when they need it most.

Vega blog