Our Services

Beads of Courage®

Beads of Courage® enable children to tell their story using colourful beads as meaningful symbols of courage that commemorate milestones along their unique treatment path.

This international programme has been proven to decrease stress, increase positive coping strategies and help children find meaning in illness. Children have something tangible they can use to explain their experiences.

We were delighted to bring the Beads of Courage® programme to Ireland and continue to fund it.

Once enrolled on the programme, your child will receive beads for various treatments and procedures, as well as special courage beads along the way.

How to access the programme

The programme is run by the Play Specialists in St John’s Paediatric Cancer Day Ward, Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) at Crumlin. Please speak to one of the Play Specialists about the programme and they can get you started.

Eoin & Hazel

Sibling Beads of Courage

Over the last few years, we have worked hard with CHI at Crumlin to introduce a Sibling Beads programme. As any family who has been through a diagnosis of and treatment for childhood cancer knows, it is not just the child themselves who is affected – siblings may struggle to come to terms with the changes in their family, the concern for their siblings and they wonder what it all means for them.

The Sibling Beads programme allows siblings to work through their emotions and fears during this difficult time.

Sadie’s Beads of Courage

These are my daughter Sadie’s beads of courage – all 1179 of them. She is two and a half years old and has been in treatment for Neuroblastoma cancer since she was diagnosed at 5 weeks.

Each bead represents a part of her journey, from hundreds of routine dressing changes to ICU transfers, nights in hospital, chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, general anaesthesia, blood transfusions, surgery, stem cell harvest, MRIs and many, many more. Each bead symbolises a story of strength, honour and hope.

Collecting Sadie’s beads gave us a tangible representation of all she endured and overcame on a daily basis. It gave us a way to share with our family and friends what life in treatment is like and allowed for a connection that is difficult to achieve when stumbling through the darkness and isolation of childhood cancer.

We hope that they will one day help her to understand all that she experienced and overcame in her first years of life.

Your Treatment Outside of Crumlin

Many children living outside Dublin also attend one of the 16 shared care / regional hospitals. There, they are treated in isolation rooms, which they cannot leave to use the playroom or other ward facilities.

We aim to improve facilities and supports for these children attending the 16 shared care/ regional hospitals, when not required to be in St. John’s Ward.

We fund equipment including wall-mounted cardiac monitors and thermometers, TVs, DVD players, Play Stations and other gaming devices, electric beds, lie-flat day beds for parents and vinyl wall art to brighten up the isolation rooms.

Completed Locations

Mullingar Regional Hospital

University Hospital Waterford

University Hospital Kerry, Tralee

Portiuncula University Hospital, Balinasloe

Sligo University Hospital

Letterkenny University Hospital

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda

Ongoing Projects

Wexford General Hospital

Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise

Mayo University Hospital

University Hospital Limerick

St. Luke’s General Hospital Carlow/Kilkenny

University Hospital Galway

Cavan General Hospital

Cork University Hospital

South Tipperary General Hospital

Play Services

In 2015, we identified the need for a dedicated Play Specialist on St John’s Day Ward and launched a fundraising campaign to enable the hospital to provide this service and we continue to fund this important role.

This vital service helps children understand and cope better with their diagnosis and treatment.

Our wonderful Play Specialist Carol works with children to ease the burden of attending St John’s Day Ward for chemotherapy and other invasive treatments, offering stimulation and support when it is needed most.

How to access the programme

The Play Specialists visit all children following diagnosis. If you have not yet met with a Play Specialist, or would like to request a visit, please speak to a member of the nursing staff, who will organise this for you. 

Michael’s Story

Michael’s coping mechanism in hospital is to block things out, so most of the time he ignores the doctors and nurses. He doesn’t realise the extent of the good they are trying to do. It can be a bit embarrassing, because they are all so lovely to him, but he knows when he sees them that something is going to happen.

My husband and I were very worried about him getting depressed at the start of treatment because he just went so quiet, but the Play Specialists got him talking and playing again, which helped take that worry away. They really play such a vitally important role in Crumlin, they’re forever helpful.

Peer-to-Peer Support

In collaboration with Childhood Cancer Foundation Ireland, CanTeen Ireland and CanCare 4 Living, the Irish Cancer Society runs a peer-to-peer support service for parents and adult family members of children, adolescents and young adults with cancer. CCFI has two trained peer support volunteers who offer support to parents. We know what it’s like to feel isolated, confused, scared and alone during this time and we are here to listen and provide emotional support.

To be referred to one of the Irish Cancer Society’s trained parent volunteers please call the Irish Cancer Society Support Line on Freephone 1800 200 700 or email [email protected]


Advocacy is at the heart of our mission of achieving health justice for all children, adolescents, young adults with cancer and survivors (CAYAS), across Ireland.

We are dedicated to being the voice of children with cancer in Ireland. We do this by raising public awareness of the many issues affecting CAYAS, their families and communities and influencing policy at national level to ensure equal access to the most up to date treatment protocols, research and supportive services.

Read more about our work as the voice of children’s cancer in Ireland.