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Nurse plays tic-tac-toe with 7-year-old cancer patient stuck in hospital room

Ever since the pandemic brought about new regulations on nurse-to-patient contact, she has come up with a creative means to keep the young boy's spirits raised.

Nurse plays tic-tac-toe with 7-year-old cancer patient stuck in hospital room
Cover Image Source: Facebook/Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

7-year-old Grant Wolf has been battling brain cancer and undergoing treatment at Cincinnati Children's Hospital for the past nine months. As he endures chemotherapy, he's struck up a heartwarming friendship with a nurse who goes out of her way to bring a smile to the child's face. Aware of how small kind gestures from those around them can go a long way with patients like Grant, nurse Allie Schulten used to leave behind little surprises for him. However, ever since the pandemic brought about new regulations on nurse-to-patient contact, she's come up with a creative way to keep the young boy's spirits raised.

Image Source: Getty Images (representative)

"It's her signature," Grant's mom Sara Wolf told Good Morning America. "Each time she changes the linens she leaves a little friend for Grant to come back to and the smile on his face when he discovers it is priceless." Schulten has been unable to leave little gifts for her young friend since April as social-distancing restrictions related to COVID-19 have required nurse-to-patient contact to be kept to a minimum for the time being. Undeterred, she found a new way to cheer up Grant, one that's been tried and test by generations with an impeccable success rate.



 

"I drew a tic-tac-toe board on his door as a way of asking if he wanted to play," Schulten revealed. "I still wanted to be able to interact with him and help bring a smile to his face without entering his room." Grant was more than happy to play a game with his favorite nurse, grabbing a dry erase marker to make the first move on the glass door between them. The duo played their first tic-tac-toe game on April 17 and has ever since been playing a few games every day that Grant is in for his round of treatment.



 

"He always gives me a smirk when he sees me start drawing on the window and by the time he gets to the window has a smile from ear-to-ear," said Schulten. "But the biggest smiles and infectious giggling come when he gets a win. Oncology patients like Grant show me every day the true meaning of a fighting spirit." On his part, Grant is grateful for Schulten's friendship and her helping him pass time in the hospital in such a fun way. "Tic-tac-toe is fun and I like writing on the windows. My nurses are nice and they take good care of me," the young lad said.

Image Source: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
Image Source: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

 

The Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center commended Schulten on Facebook in honor of National Nurses Week, writing: Many of our nurses go above and beyond to make sure the experiences of our patients and families are as positive as possible. That includes Allie Schulten who was able to keep her connection with 7-year-old Grant even with current social distancing protocols in place. When Allie used a dry erase marker to draw a tic-tac-toe board on his door, Grant got his own marker and the two have been swapping Xs and Os ever since! Thank you to Allie and all of the wonderful nurses who help our patients take their minds off of what are sometimes long days of treatment!



 

"These oncology nurses have been some of the most amazing people we've met on this journey," said Sara Wolf. "All the creative ways they've come up with to bring a smile to Grant's face and help ease his anxieties as he battles brain cancer, it makes a world of difference and they should be so proud of the work they do." Grant will receive his sixth and hopefully last round of chemotherapy in June.

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