Monkey in my Chair

This year my class has been dealt a really difficult blow.  One of my second graders was diagnosed with cancer over the winter holidays.   It was heartbreaking to share this news with my class and we’ve been trying to figure out how to show our support and love to this student ever since.  My kids get very concerned when she’s absent for chemo treatments and were worried that she wouldn’t be able to get books from the book fair and she’d miss a field trip.

The children’s hospital where this student is receiving treatment offers this program for classrooms with similar situations- the Monkey in my Chair.  This stuffed animal comes to school, sits in the student’s chair, and records the daily events in a little notebook to keep her up to date.  Meet Chip:
img_0797Right away my students decided that Chip needed a “Love Your Melon” hat like our friend wears to cover the hair loss from chemo.  Luckily, I have a few spares.

We also decided that Chip needs an official t-shirt, because my entire class has one that we wear on chemo days  (or any day, really) to show support.


It is bittersweet sharing these photos with our classmate, because while they bring joy and keep her informed, we would so much rather her be there every day.  My little squad of second graders is amazing at making sure that Chip is included in everything and that we document all his work to share.


This is uncharted territory in my teaching career- never have I experienced a student with cancer.  My heart breaks for this sweet student and her family, as they have a long road ahead of them…but it is a little comforting to know that we are bringing smiles and laughs and maybe some welcomed distractions with the antics of Chip, the Monkey in My Chair.

11 thoughts on “Monkey in my Chair

  1. This warms my heart and breaks it at the same time. I cannot even imagine this experience. I have had a student pass from cancer, but he wasn’t my student at the time. Be strong!


  2. Thank you for sharing this story and your vulnerabilities around it. It seems like you are handling a very difficult situation with such grace.


  3. What an incredible idea. Monkey in my chair!! I can’t imagine the emotions you must be going through this year trying to support your students as they navigate this new life challenge, and caring about the little girl with cancer and meeting her needs. Sending you lots of positive energy and light as you all come together as a classroom family. Thank you for being such a great role model and support for everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What an amazing group of kids you are helping to create!
    What an amazing thing you are doing for that kiddo. Sending lots of love and good thoughts to your special student as well as to you and the rest of your second graders,

    Liked by 1 person

  5. How brave. How emotional. So many emotions came over me as I read this piece. Your are most definitely handling this situation beautifully. Your students seem to be adapting well and are making Chip just as much a part of the classroom as your student. Sending your compassionate class and you some love and positivity. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This piece brought tears to my eyes. It’s bittersweet, isn’t it? To do this for your student who is receiving chemo is bittersweet. It allows the child to feel included, while helping others build an understanding, but the child’s presence is still not there. Sounds like you’re taking it one day at a time and creating a classroom of children who will be more empathetic.


  7. This makes me SO sad but at the same time makes me so proud of you and your students and the fight you are sharing. WHen someone has cancer, lots of people just drift away quietly while others join in the journey even if it is hard. You and your class are certainly in the latter group.


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