From cancer patient to student teacher at Banner UMC

From cancer patient to student teacher at Banner UMC

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - PJ Quinn just needs to finish his student teaching to graduate from Northern Arizona University.

He could have wrapped up the requirement months ago, but cancer treatments pulled him away twice over two semesters.

During his most recent stay at Banner University Medical Center in Tucson, the staff offered him an opportunity to complete his student teaching in a place familiar to him - the hospital.

Patients at Diamond Children's at Banner UMC who need to keep up with their schoolwork turn to Quinn for tutoring.

"There's beeps and wires and cords and sick people everywhere," he said. "And then you come in here and it's like a little bit of an escape."

The classroom has a table and chairs, plenty of books, games and any other activity that a student may want outside of a traditional school.

"I like to play games with them ... keep their minds rolling," Quinn said. "You know when they're in the hospital, they don't mind doing homework but if they can have fun while they're here, it's something I like to take advantage of."

His student on Tuesday, Nov. 21 is Jonas, a 10 year old with the same diagnosis as Quinn. Jonas is a big fan of the Oakland Raiders. Quinn is all about the Philadelphia Eagles. In between lessons, the two like to talk about football.

More importantly, Quinn lets Jonas know what to expect from his treatment. First Jonas needed surgery on his knee, just like Quinn. Then it was his lung, just like Quinn.

"I talk to PJ about it, but not my friends," Jonas said.

"This is the hardest thing he's probably ever going to go through," Quinn said. "He's always got a smile on his face. It's crazy, blows my mind every time."

Quinn graduates in a couple weeks. Jonas will need more time to recuperate, but he's eager to join his friends in the 5th grade next school year.

The two hope to watch the Eagles-Raiders game on Christmas Day.

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