Robot allows 6-year-old to attend kindergarten while she fights cancer

(ROBINSON, Texas) — One kindergartner undergoing cancer treatment is able to “attend” class, thanks to the help of artificial intelligence.

In January, PJ Trojanowski, 6, was diagnosed with the kidney cancer Wilms tumor in both kidneys.

“She’s our most outgoing child,” dad Eric Trojanowski told ABC News Wednesday. “It was a different thing to sit down and tell my 6-ear-old, ‘You have cancer and the doctors have to figure out how to get it out of you. She was feisty about it. The doc even said, ‘I don’t know Paisley very well, but I know kids like her do well in treatment because they have a lot of fight in them.'”

“It takes a lot out of her … [but] she’s taking it in stride,” he added. “She talks about [how] she’s going to beat cancer.”

Because of her weakened immune system, Paisley Jane, who goes by PJ, was unable to return to her kindergarten classroom at Robinson Primary School in Robinson, Texas.

With help from her school and the Region 12 Education Service Center, a VGo robot was brought to Robinson Primary on PJ’s behalf.

The robot allows PJ to interact with classmates and observe lessons given by her teacher, Michelle Adkins, while she receives chemotherapy treatments at McLane Children’s hospital in Temple, Texas.

Adkins told ABC News that her other 19 students are accustomed to PJ logging into the mobile robot from her iPad, and having it move around the classroom.

She also does home teaching visits with PJ two days a week to practice new skills face-to-face.

“I think she likes to interact with it,” Adkins said. “She likes to know what we’re doing and it’s a way for her to get more learning time in. Her parents really enjoy it also.”

Trojanowski, a dad of three, said he helps PJ drive the robot around the classroom from the hospital.

“She enjoys listening to the story time and listening in on the lessons,” he said. “She told me, ‘Sometimes it makes me sad because I want to be with my friends at school.’

“I tell her, ‘You’re at home now and get to watch and listen,'” he continued. “She’s getting used to the idea. The support of the school district has been nothing short of amazing.”

PJ is undergoing chemotherapy and will receive surgery to remove the two tumors at the end of April.

The Trojanowskis hope she can rejoin her classmates at the start of first grade.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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