Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker

Parent, Teacher, Author

The Truth about Beauty: Tatum and her Beads of Courage

Tatum and her beads

Tatum is a precious little girl who used to live down the street from us. Tatum’s mom, Mandy, posted this picture on Facebook recently, and I thought, “Now there is beauty.” Forget photoshop. Forget trying to be perfect. Forget wasting even one more moment feeling bad about not looking perfect. Instead, let’s learn to find our beauty in our strength, in our character, in our love. I asked Mandy if she would share Tatum’s story with us. Here’s what she had to say:

“Tatum Kate was diagnosed with leukemia in July 2009, just after her 3rd birthday. She was so little then, yet she faced each new challenge of her treatment with strength and a strong-will to keep living. She had almost completed her treatment when she relapsed. The leukemia returned, isolated in her spinal fluid.

She began another two-year plan without looking back. On the day of her relapse, as her dad and I wiped tears away, Tatum looked at us and said “Let’s get a move on.” She has always been tough, curious and independent. Leukemia has only enhanced these qualities in her and made her more determined and strong. She always looks forward and has led the way for us all.

Tatum has lost her hair more than once. Her body has often been changed dramatically from different medications. Yet her beauty shines completely from within her heart. At the hospital she is friends with many different kinds of children. She has learned kindness and compassion and could care less about outward appearances in herself or others. Her favorite thing to do is play and she is happy to be a part of a diverse world.

Her beads in the picture are called Beads of Courage. Each bead represents a part of her treatment. There are beads for blood draws, clinic visits, fever/isolation, hospital stays, infusions, spinal procedures, radiation, hair loss and a variety of other important moments. She has 6 strands and counting. She wears them with pride and her slight smile says it all. Complete confidence. She owns us all!”

I was so thankful to Mandy for sharing Tatum’s story of courage with me. I’m writing this as I get ready to have a procedure that I hope will help my heart function more effectively. You see, it is failing. I’m 42 years old, and my heart is failing. For some reason we don’t understand, it’s become weakened. Right about now I need one of Tatum’s Beads of Courage.

She inspires me, this little girl with her “Let’s get a move on.” I’m ready to move forward from the tired constraints of perfection and into accepting myself where I am. I’m ready to let go of trying to meet all of the ideals that others put before me, whether it’s having a perfect body, or a white smile, or being the perfect mom, and just embrace being the best me that I can be. Are you ready to join us? Okay, Tater, here we go.

9 comments on “The Truth about Beauty: Tatum and her Beads of Courage

  1. Vee
    January 23, 2013

    Thank you for sharing a beautiful story of courage and love… You have brightened my day and inspired me to get a move on! 🙂

  2. Jana
    January 13, 2013

    Thanks Jennifer. I love this.

  3. Brenna Camp
    January 12, 2013

    Jennifer, thanks for your blog here. My first time here. I am thankful for what you shared! Praying for you. Had no idea about your heart issue. Just down the street…and don’t know you well!

  4. Ann
    January 12, 2013

    This girl is amazing and truly an inspiration. While I don’t expect that will be any comfort to her or her family as they endure what must be grueling treatment, she has certainly changed some lives.

  5. Yvonne McGaugh
    January 12, 2013

    I am humbled by all of these words about precious Tatum and about Dr. Jennifer, being a cancer survivor, and having a heart condition, I can relate on some levels, but the courage of this child helps me to move on as she has said. Blessings to all who suffer in this world.

  6. Beth Wade
    January 12, 2013

    We have seen your courage before and after the surgery to increase your heart function, and we know your desire to live fully each day and the attitude of loving life and living it fully that Tatum’s story shows is exactly what our Father God wants His children to understand and treasure. We love you and salute the courageous, joyful lives you portray!

  7. Roberta Walton
    January 12, 2013

    may God continue to bless you & all who go forward being such inspiration to those of us that are so blessed to be able to know people of courage like my little Tatum. love her & her family.i will keep you in my prayers as i do Tatum & her family

  8. Ruth Jackson
    January 12, 2013

    Thank you for this inspiring story. I prayed for you, Tatum and all these brave children. through my tears. Ruth Jackson..


  9. Beth Daugherity
    January 12, 2013

    I love this. A LOT! Thanks Jennifer and Mandy and Tatum. 🙂

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This entry was posted on January 11, 2013 by in Acting and tagged , , , .
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