Chichester boy’s cancer battle depicted with beads of courage

Adam Brombley with the beads he created to marking the stages in his treatment. Picture by Kate Shemilt. C140491-3
Adam Brombley with the beads he created to marking the stages in his treatment. Picture by Kate Shemilt. C140491-3

A FAMILY has come together to create a colourful and vibrant set of beads – but the story behind them is one of courage and bravery.

The beads, of which there are more than 1,000, mark a 14-year-old’s journey with cancer.

Adam Brombley, from Emsworth, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma last August, after two large tumours were found on his chest.

Since then he has been in and out of hospital, with intensive therapy to combat the tumour.

He has mapped his journey with the beads – a red one for blood transfusions, white for chemotherapy, brown for hair loss.

Each bead represents a moment in his journey in the last nine months, where he has been in and out of hospital.

“Some days we only have three beads, but other days it is ten,” said mum Julie.

But she said a day doesn’t go by where they don’t thread a bead.

Adam is due to have his last session of chemotherapy next week, and should be on the road to recovery.

But that hasn’t stopped him from going to school when he can, and from supporting his football team Portsmouth.

Julie said as soon as Adam was told the cancer was curable he ‘just got on with it’, and that gave her the strength to get through it.

It all started when Adam fell ill over the summer holidays – and doctors thought it was an infection or asthma.

But it wasn’t until GCSE results day, after his sister Charlotte had picked up her results that everything changed.

He became very ill and was taken to hospital in Southampton, and ended up it the paediatric intensive care.

“They started him on chemotherapy very quickly,” said Julie.

“They would rather do too much than not enough. It is a very fast-growing cancer.

“You feel as though everything has stopped.”

But the beads, which is part of an international project called Beads of Courage, has helped the family through.

Adam said: “I didn’t really want to do it at first, but it has showed what has happened really. Some people don’t really realise what had happened.”

Julie said: “It is good for other people to see what we have been through.”

Headteacher of Chichester High School for Boys, Gavin Salvesen-Sawh, said: “From the school’s point of view Adam has been a real inspiration. He probably does not realise how inspirational he has been.”

Making a mark

Through Adam’s journey, family friend and artist Julie Turner decided to produce prints on Adam’s beads of courage.

Chichester High School for Boys’ staff and students raised enough money to purchase one for their new building, to represent the bravery of their pupil and friend.

Sarah Hanson, community leader of the house Canute at the school, said: “As his community leader, it was difficult to return to a new school year in September, having learned that Adam Brombley had been taken ill and was starting an intensive course of chemotherapy for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Two large tumours had been discovered in his chest, one of which encroached onto his heart.

“Over the last year, Adam’s dedication to learning and attending school, despite his health worries has been inspirational. Now as we approach what will hopefully be Adam’s last chemotherapy session, nearly a year later, with the future looking positive, it was hard to resist the opportunity to mark his determination and courage.

“As part of the regular email updates on Adam’s progress received from Mrs Brombley, local artist and friend of the family Julie Turner produced a series of prints based on Adam’s ‘Beads of Courage’ a colourful visual representation of his journey through treatment. Adam brought these in to show us and they are a wonderful keepsake documenting his courage, with each bead symbolising a part of the treatment process.

“Following enthusiasm to support Adam from his peers, particularly his form group Canute 6 and tutor Mr McIlroy, we were able to raise money to purchase one of the prints which will be used as part of the décor in our new building, the Richards Hibberd Building, upon its completion.

“Capitalising on the brief hint of summer we saw just before the Easter break, Mr McIlroy and Canute 6 sold ice creams and doughnuts to staff and students during break and lunchtimes, quickly raising the £75 needed.

“Additionally, the money raised will go towards Adam’s trips to Disneyland Paris and the Belgian Grand Prix over the summer which is partially funded by a children’s cancer charity. Adam has also been selling green ‘Adam’s Adversity’ wristbands, named after the treatment blog started by his older sister Charlotte for £1 each to further support these trips.

“Adam’s courage, determination and commitment has been truly inspiring, as has the willingness of the student body to support one of their peers during this hard time. We are so pleased Adam is heading towards recovery and look forward to welcoming him into school on a more full time basis over the coming months.”