In 2016, Macy Nunan’s doctors discovered a rare noncancerous tumor in her jaw.
The then-9-year-old and her family traveled from Kirksville, Missouri, to Women's and Children's Hospital for treatment.
Upon her arrival, Macy was enrolled in Beads of Courage, a national program that awards young patients with beads when they hit milestones in their recovery. Patients store the beads in a cloth bag for safekeeping.
“I always looked forward to getting my beads,” said Macy, now 11. “At the end of my treatment, it was kind of amazing to look back and think, ‘Wow, I had over 500 needle sticks!’ ”
Macy spent approximately one year receiving daily injections at home and making monthly trips to Women’s and Children’s Hospital for outpatient clinic visits. Even during this extremely busy time, she still managed to pick up a few new hobbies, one of which happened to be sewing, something she learned from her family friend, “Grandma” Meredith Willcox.
During her trips to the hospital, Macy noticed that there weren’t enough bead bags for all of the patients, so she quickly put her new sewing skills to work.
“I was on the Beads of Courage website, and I saw a section that teaches you how to make your own bead bags,” Macy said. “I thought it would be neat to give back to other kids at the hospital and give them something to look forward to.”
Macy originally planned to sew 12 bead bags, but that number quickly grew to 2,000 thanks to support from The Hands of Friendship Quilt Guild of Kirksville. Willcox, a member of the guild, organized several “Quilt ‘til you wilt” sessions, during which members produced bead bags in assembly-line fashion using fabrics donated by the community.
This week, Macy and Willcox — along with Macy’s father, Lathe; mother, Amy; and brother, Max — delivered a batch of 500 bead bags to the Cancer and Blood Disorders Unit at Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
“Macy’s gift to us is truly a blessing,” said LeAnn Reeder, a Child Life specialist at Women’s and Children’s Hospital. “Beads of Courage is all about the young patient’s story, and it can be hard for them to explain every shot they receive and every procedure they undergo. These beads empower them to take ownership of their story.”