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Knox County cancer outpatient begins kindergarten

A doctor had what could be unexpected advice.
Published: Sep. 9, 2020 at 11:36 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A doctor had what could be unexpected advice. A young patient overcoming cancer was given the green light to start kindergarten this year, just like any other kid in any other year.

A typical five-year-old boy who loves to play outside and color appeared normal on the outside. But underneath Noah Sileno’s silliness, is something more serious.

He’s battling leukemia and learning at an elementary school for the first time.

“Our biggest threat is leukemia," explained Martha Sileno, his mom, "You know coronavirus isn’t so much what we’re worried about as leukemia. But of course we take it very seriously.”

His parents said they decided to send him to class based on the recommendation of Children’s Hospital.

“We spoke to his oncologist and she was in full agreement that Noah needed to try to start as a traditional student,” said Sileno.

They recognized learning in a classroom could help his attention span and social skills.

“He does better one-on-one," said Sileno, "He does better socializing and being able to talk than learning from a computer.”

They made a plan with Brickey-McCloud’s administrators, the school nurse and his teacher.

He has his own desk area and school supplies and wears a mask.

They also have a 504 plan in place in case of an emergency.

“His school has really, really looked out for him-and all the children-to keep them safe," said Sileno.

As soon as Noah gets home from school, he takes off his school clothes and shoes and puts on clean ones. He also sanitizes his hands.

This year the Silenos have a different back to school routine, but one that helps them reach normalcy.

“It’s amazing because when he was diagnosed two years ago it was really tough," said Sileno, "I didn’t know if we were going to make it to Kindergarten. So having him be able to go to Kindergarten is huge.”

Noah will complete chemotherapy on November 1st.

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