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:
Right 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.