Students write 'Our Cancer Boy' to understand classmate's condition
Diagnosed with cancer while in the first grade, Michael Murdock didn't let that stop him from being a kid. He still went to school and was welcomed with open arms. To better understand his condition, his classmates at Bennett Elementary School wrote a book, and in the process, helped him through some of his most challenging times.
A school counselor suggested Murdock's second grade class put the book together, knowing there were few resources that educators could turn to when dealing with the issue of cancer among young students.
"I felt scared when I found out that you had cancer," wrote student Emelyn Cook,
Bridget Rice, also a student, wrote in her entry, "I knew it was important to still be your friend."
The Manassas second graders started the school year with a life lesson.
"I'm just a regular me but with cancer," Murdock said.
In June 2012, Murdock found out he had a brain tumor.
"When I like woke up and sat on the couch, it started to hurt a lot." Murdock recalled.
Surgery quickly followed the diagnosis, along with radiation therapy. As a preventative measure, Murdock's chemo continues. As a result, he's dealing with the physical changes.
"I really didn't want to go to school, because I was bald," Murdock said. "...I thought the kids would laugh, because I'm bald."
Instead, the 7 and 8-year-olds embraced their friend during his recovery, willing to learn, listen and support.
Student Dylan Boone wrote, "I want you to know that I hope you feel better, and I will always be on your side."
As a class, they created a book. Each student put together an entry, writing thoughts and questions while Murdock wrote back.
Second grade teacher Susan Starnes said, "Their words are their words, and they're so heartwarming. They're so touching."
The hope is that their message will reach other students who might be in their situation.
Their book, title "Our Cancer Boy," has been entered into a Scholastic contest, which offers a publishing deal for the winner.
Michael's mother, Jennier Murdock, said, "I think it's helped to have the kids be so understanding and so open with him, and I think he just wants to come to school and be a normal kid."
And that's been made possible with the power of words.
In May, the class will ind out if Scholastic chose their book out of the thousands of other entries. Even if it's not selected, the student still hope to get their story published.
As for Michael's health, he's cancer-free, and his chemo therapy ends in Aug.