GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA-TV) – Bon Secours St. Francis Cancer Center is helping its patients mark treatment milestones along their journey.
They call it “Strands of Strength” and each step is marked by a bead on a necklace.
“If we are still breathing, there is hope,” said patient Maria Herrera.
The 57-year-old has reason to be thankful this holiday season. Tuesday, she crossed the treatment finish line in her long journey to beat ovarian cancer.
“I just consider myself very lucky. No, not lucky. Blessed. That’s what I consider myself,” she said.
Surrounded by friends family and supportive doctors, Herrera credits them for pulling her through the hardest of times. Still, when she really needs a good visual of how far she’s come, she just looks at the chain around her neck.
“It helps you keep track of where you’re going in order to help you to where you want to be,” she said.
Every doctor visit and every radiation treatment is marked by a different color bead.
The first bead on her strand marks her diagnosis.
“It feels a little down [when you get that bead], but it’s the beginning of a journey,” said Herrera.
She said the diagnosis symbol is the most important. It is the motivator.
“You start right here and you keep on going. Finally, you climb that mountain. I got to the top,” said Herrera.
The strands often mean as much to the medical staff as they do their patients.
“If someone has cancer, this is their medal,” said Judy Childs, scheduler and bead keeper for the BSSFCC. “They are fighting for their lives. They are our heroes.”
Tuesday, Childs and Herrera added what they hope will be the last bead on her strand.
The small silver ribbon marked the completion of a fight and a physical reminder of the motto she gave herself daily and now shares with others.
“Be positive. Look forward. What’s passed is passed. Let’s go forward one day at a time.”
Herrera said her next goal is to provide support to other cancer patients who may not have the support system she had along the way. She said that is truly the best medicine along the journey towards a cure.