KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) –The Noah Nation Foundation, a local nonprofit, is hosting its bi-annual pajama drive starting Monday.
Noah Nation Foundation was started by Martha Sileno while her son Noah was battling B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
Noah was diagnosed at 3 years old, and after battling cancer for two-and-a-half years, he had his final chemotherapy treatment in November.
Sileno said she started the foundation because her son had severe neuropathy from the chemo, so hospital gowns not only made him anxious, they also felt scratchy.
“He equated that with fear, medical, hospital; that type of stuff,” Sileno said.
Noah preferred to wear pajamas, but they weren’t port-accessible for his treatment and blood work.
“He would have different procedures where he needed his port, and without the pajamas, he had to either not have a shirt on, or we would have to pull the shirt up, and of course it would stain his regular clothes,” Sileno said.
So, Sileno created port-accessible pajamas to make his treatment just a little more comfortable.
“Isaac, Noah’s friend, was always in a dress shirt, and that’s kind of where the idea came from. He was always in a dress short receiving treatment. And Noah was always in a pull-up because the gown was too scratchy for his skin,” Sileno said.
She said the special pajamas were a game changer for his attitude and comfort.
“Being able to pick out his favorite characters and wearing clothes, that you know, he’s used to, made him feel like he was doing what he normally would do, and not doing something hospital-based,” Sileno said.
In June 2019, Sileno started the foundation so she could help other kids feel more comfortable as well.
“It’s free. I will never make a profit from this. That’s not what this is for. It’s to help out everybody in need. And so, if families need anything, they can contact us and I’ll mail it out to them, you know, save them the money and hopefully provide their child comfort and care at the same time,” Sileno said.
Other parents know the need
Jasmine Martin’s 22-month-old Sariyah has been battling retinoblastoma, a type of eye cancer, for five months.
“It’s been hard. So they still have some seeding that they can’t get to, but I mean, the tumor’s responding well to the chemo, so we’re just taking it one day at a time,” Martin said.
Her daughter goes to chemotherapy every three weeks at St. Jude’s Children Hospital in Memphis.
That’s a long drive from Knoxville.
“She handles it like a champ. I mean, there are times where, you know, the five day courses she has to get–five days of chemo–it makes her so sick. Her levels drop. She starts to throw up,” Martin said.
Sometimes Sariyah gets so sick from chemo, she has to go to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.
But, when she’s feeling well, she’s a normal almost 2-year-old.
Until she see the cream.
“I have to put this Lidocaine cream on her, which is a numbing cream. And then I have to put this (patch) on there to cover it up. And that is so hard to do. Like, you have to get her shirt off, you have to wrestle with her to do that, and pull it up. And it’s so hard,” Martin said.
After hearing about the special Noah Nation Foundation set of pajamas, Martin knew everything treatment related could be easier.
“Especially when she doesn’t feel good. You know, where she’s just tired, it would be so much easier if she’d be more comfortable,” Martin said.
Noah Nation Foundation Pajama Drive
Twice a year since June 2019, Noah Nation Foundation hosts a pajama drive so they can help even more kids battling illnesses where they need a port for treatment.
“We take regular, store-bought pajamas and we make it port accessible on both sides. We also make them where they’re drain accessible, so if there’s a child that has additional tubes or any other needs, the mom can let me know and we can do what needs to be done for that child,” Sileno said.
Sileno asks for brand-new pajamas that are metal free for children 9 months old and up.
To donate, send store-bought pajamas to:
“The #NoahNation Foundation”
P.O Box 71281
Knoxville, TN 37938-1281
Since the foundation was started, Noah Nation was able to donate more than 600 kids in need across the country.
For those who need a set of special pajamas from the foundation, visit the foundation’s Facebook page, here.
Sileno said she will also take requests from adults who need port-accessible pajamas.