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Grandmother’s cancer inspires girl to make, sell bead designs

JAMESTOWN -- A 7-year-old child is using her crafting skills to support cancer patients, including her own grandmother. Priscilla Thorpe of Tappen established Priscilla's Perler Beads, a project to sell decorative and functional bead designs to r...

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Theresa Henderson, left, of Park Rapids, Minn., with her granddaughter, Priscilla Thorpe, 7, of Tappen, N.D., who is making and selling perler bead items with her friends to support cancer patients like her grandmother.Submitted

JAMESTOWN -- A 7-year-old child is using her crafting skills to support cancer patients, including her own grandmother.

Priscilla Thorpe of Tappen established Priscilla's Perler Beads, a project to sell decorative and functional bead designs to raise money. Perler beads are colorful plastic beads that are arranged on a pegboard and then fused together with an iron or other heat instrument.

“We’ve made over 100 of these and they even have a magnet on the back,” Priscilla said. “We’ve raised about $53 so far.”

Priscilla, a second-grade student at Tappen Public School, said she and two friends, Taryn Mittleider and Hannah Juergens, were talking about how they all know someone in their lives who is suffering from cancer. The three decided to help by creating and selling designer beads, she said. The first dollar of the $2 item goes toward the beading supplies, and the second dollar goes to support people with cancer, she said.

“Taryn has a grandma with cancer and my grandma has cancer too,” Priscilla said. “I want to help people get better and heal from cancer like my grandma.”

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The perler beads are available at Gifts From The Heart, 109 1st St. W, Jamestown, where Priscilla’s mother, Amy Thorpe, is also a vendor at the store and works on Wednesdays.

After the first dollar toward beading supplies, half of the remaining money raised will go to a clinic in Jamestown and the other half to a clinic in Minnesota, Amy said. The sales have gone well at craft shows and at Gifts From The Heart, she said.

“We’ve had a lot of positive comments on it,” Amy said.

The shapes range from various animals and other seasonal ideas, Amy said. There will likely be some shamrock-shaped ideas for St. Patrick’s Day, and some other ideas for Easter, she said.

Priscilla said she prefers making the animal patterns and went online to find more patterns to feed her beading ideas.

“I like to make small things because they are more easy,” Priscilla said. “The first one I ever made was a black cat.”

Priscilla’s grandmother is Theresa Henderson of Park Rapids, Minn. She was diagnosed with uterine cancer in July, and after six rounds of chemotherapy will undergo surgery in March at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

“The prognosis is good,” Amy Thorpe said.

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Henderson said that Priscilla not only gets her knack with crafting from her mother but also shares her compassion for others.

“Priscilla is a very sweet and generous little girl,” Henderson said on Sunday. “She takes after her mother.”

Henderson said the project means a lot to her. Priscilla lived next door until just two years ago,  and the two became especially close as she was the first grandchild.

Henderson said she was diagnosed with stage IV cancer in July after it had moved into her lungs. After six months of chemotherapy she said the cancer has shrunk and she will have a hysterectomy this month.

“I was not feeling so good in July,” she said. “But I have been back to work for three months and if I didn’t (already) know I had cancer, I feel so good I wouldn’t even know now. I have come so far.”

Henderson said now that she has gone through treatment she appreciates very much what people do for cancer patients. Some people donate money, she said. Others volunteer to do housework and other assistance for patients in treatment, she said -- the little things that go a long way.

“People have been really good,” she said.

The chemotherapy labs give out gas cards to people who need help offsetting the costs of travel, Henderson said. There is so much assistance available that she has not even used it all, she said, and it is the gifts of people like Priscilla who make it possible.

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One big surprise came from a pharmaceutical company, she said. After chemotherapy she said she needed an injection of a drug to help restore her white blood cell count, which costs $1,000 after insurance, but that the drug company itself underwrote the additional expense.

“People think the drug companies are all about making money but they do some good things too, and they wiped out a lot of very expensive shots for us,” Henderson said.

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