SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) — A Smithfield boy got a welcome home he’ll never forget Tuesday.
Noah Antunes, 10, has spent the last two weeks at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence after being diagnosed with Burkitt Lymphoma, a form of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.
“It’s a very fast-spreading lymphoma, but it’s also one that they can hit hard, and it has a 90% survival rate,” Noah’s mother Amy Antunes said.
It all started last summer when Noah had what was thought to be indigestion.
“He played baseball, outdoor basketball all summer like a normal 10-year-old kid would,” Noah’s father David Antunes said.
The symptoms accelerated in September and he was brought to Hasbro Children’s Hospital on Oct. 1.
Amy said chemotherapy began the same day he was admitted.
Following his diagnosis, the community pledged their support to Noah and his recovery.
Even former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski gave Noah some words of encouragement.
“Noah, wassup man? It’s Rob Gronkowski here. Just want to say stay strong, stay positive and you’ll be back out there on the baseball field soon. Take care. Let’s go,” Gronkowski said in a video sent to Noah’s family.
Despite the diagnosis, Noah continues to stay upbeat.
“It’s amazing, all the support I have for me and my family. I feel great right now,” Noah said.
Two weeks after his first round of chemotherapy, Noah was allowed to come home. When the Smithfield Fire Department heard the news, they offered the family an escort home with their trucks.
Noah got to ride in the engine at the front of the line to celebrate his homecoming.
“We thought maybe an escort from the town line to his house would put a smile on his face and cheer him up,” Deputy Fire Chief Steve Quattrinia said.
As the trucks turned down Noah’s street, a group of officers from the Smithfield Police Department were standing in front of his house, cheering and waving.
“He had a good smile on his face. I can tell he was very happy to be home. As soon as he walked into the house, he was very happy,” Noah’s brother Matthew Antunes said.
“We cannot say enough about this community we live in. They have given back to us so much. We do feel all the love and support and the prayers, so it’s great,” Amy tearfully said.
Noah still has six months of treatments to complete. Right now, Matthew is in the midst of organizing a whiffle ball tournament for his brother.
It is scheduled to take place on Nov. 2 at Whipple Field in Smithfield. Tickets are $10 per player, with all the proceeds going toward offsetting the cost of Noah’s medical care.