View Comments
New tool in cancer treatment
New tool in cancer treatment

In Mrs Jackson's kindy class one student's a little bit different.

Cheeky the Monkey is here when his friend Kate can't be.

The toy monkey has become a new tool in the treatment of childhood cancer.

It takes the place of young patients at school while they undergo treatment, reminding classmates their friends will return.

“Cheeky comes with us to assembly to dances whatever we are Cheeky is there,” teacher Janeen Jackson said.

Kate was diagnosed with leukemia last year, and she has undergone months of chemotherapy.

Her mother, Jo Thompson, said she was scared that once Kate recovered and returned to school none of her classmates would remember her.

“She'd be the kid with no friends and no hair and school would be as sad as hospital was,” Jo said.

Then came a new Sydney Children's Hospital program called Monkey in my Chair.

It provided a constant reminder, even in hospital, that Kate is still part of the class.

The class sends Kate photos of what's happening, and she does too.

Every year in Australia 600 children like Kate are diagnosed with cancer or leukemia.

It's hoped the program can be expanded to cover more children to ensure while they're fighting for life, they're not missing out on it.

Treatment saw Kate spend barely three weeks at school this year.

But mum says that when she returned one of her classmates yelled at the top of her lungs, “everyone Kate's here!”

“Suddenly we were swamped by all these wonderful little kids.”