Unique therapy helps young cancer patients bridge gap between hospital and school

Carys Singler at Nationwide Childrens' Hospital (WSYX/WTTE)

A monkey is helping to bridge the treatment gap between a hospital and a school homeroom.

Not a real monkey, this one is three feet tall and stuffed with fluff.

'Coco' the monkey sit at Carys Singler's desk at Buckeye Trail Elementary School in Lore City (Guernsey County), filling a void while the eight-year-old battles brain cancer at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Doctors removed a tumor last December, but follow up treatments will keep the young girl out of the classroom for a while.

That's where "Coco" comes in.

The monkey - and a smaller one that stays with Carys at the hospital- is part of "Monkey In My Chair", a national program that helps young cancer patients and their classmates stay connected.

Teacher Bethany Blankenship says before there was an empty seat and a lot of questions. She says Coco has been a comfort

"It has been an emotional support for them," said Blankenship.

"Even though Carys can't be here, it's kind of like a symbol of Carys."

Coco also collects notes and messages from the children, which are then delivered to Carys.

School principal Chase Rosser, who shaved his head in honor of Carys, says when it comes to cancer no one should fight alone.

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