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'Monkey' program keeps young cancer patients connected to classmates

January 5, 2016

635876049427360155-Monkey-Pic.JPGFrom KING5 Healthlink

While Rhyan Loose checks in the hospital for cancer treatment, her friends go to school.

As she builds a castle in the hospital playroom, somebody is taking Rhyan's seat in Kindergarten class.

"The monkey will sit in the chair to remind them that she's still part of the class," said Jen Loose, Rhyan's mom.

"Monkey in My Chair" is a national program aimed at helping young cancer patients stay connected with their school and, in turn, helping classmates better understand the challenges of fighting cancer.

"So with the monkey in the chair, it actually lets the kids in school that you are still being thought of, but you are must missing school for other reasons," said Leann Reeder, child life specialist.

The monkey kit includes the monkey, a backpack for teachers to send home Rhyan's class work and well wishes from her friends. There's also a book to help teachers explain the difficult situation.

Rhyan named her monkey Bailey, and her classmates make sure Bailey goes everywhere they do during school.