Beads and a Bright Future

By Ashley Leopoulos
Photographer: Daniel Moody

While filling out her 2016–2017 calendar and taking online college courses from her hospital room, 18-year-old Kaden Peebles was making bright plans for her future while receiving chemotherapy at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

She was also adding another bead to her collection.

Diagnosed in 2015 with Ewing Sarcoma, a bone cancer, Kaden understands the inner strength it takes to fight cancer. That’s why, when diagnosed with secondary acute myeloid leukemia caused by the chemotherapy used to treat the bone cancer, she was more than ready to meet the challenge.

Kaden refuses to let cancer slow her down.

“All the little kids who are doing the same thing I am, fighting cancer,” explains Kaden. “They are smaller and still smiling and playing. Cancer is not interrupting their childhood. If they can fight cancer, then so can I.”

A special program called “Beads of Courage” helps patients like Kaden keep their positive attitudes and fighting spirits. For each needle stick, chemo treatment and other significant event in their treatment, kids receive a bead. Some children accumulate thousands of beads—to date, Kaden has almost 1,800.

Despite being confined to her hospital room for a month at a time following each treatment, Kaden didn’t let the walls of the hospital confine her voice. Through video, she made special appearances at events around the state to share her story. With a robust social media following, Kaden has been spreading the word about pediatric cancer, blood disorders and the need for bone marrow donors.

Kaden received a bone marrow transplant in the spring of 2017 and is now cancer free.

She considers February 23, 2017, the day she received her bone marrow transplant, as her second birthday.

“Get tested, swab your cheek and be a lifesaver,” says Kaden. “I don’t know my donor, but she’s an amazing person. She gave me a second chance at life. I wouldn’t be here without her.”

As for her future plans, Kaden is going to college to be a child life specialist and wants to someday return to ACH as a member of the team.


Your support helps give kids like Kaden a bright, healthy future. Thank you for being a champion for children. For more inspirational stories like this one, download your free copy of Champions Magazine online.