Steamboat’s Izaac Kinnison back in class after successful treatment of brain tumor |

Steamboat’s Izaac Kinnison back in class after successful treatment of brain tumor

Scott Franz

Soda Creek Elementary School fifth-grader Izaac Kinnison, right, works with classmates Liam Baxter, center, and Ethan Hansen during a Spanish class Monday. Kinnison is back in school after successfully fighting a malignant brain tumor.

— Izaac Kinnison is glad to be back.

The 11-year-old Steamboat Springs boy returned to Soda Creek Elementary School on Monday to enjoy his first full day of classes since he left in May to fight a malignant brain tumor.

"It’s just really exciting to be back here," Izaac said as he and three classmates worked together to identify the geological features of South America during a Spanish class. "I just like to learn and be with my friends."

His hair hasn’t grown completely back and his voice is deeper now than it was before he left. But Izaac’s classmates say there are things chemotherapy, radiation and a long time away couldn’t change.

"He’s still really smart, and really nice," friend Liam Baxter said. "It’s great to see him back."

Izaac and his parents received welcome news in October when a brain scan revealed that chemotherapy treatments successfully shrunk the tumor in Izaac’s brain. A final scan in mid-February could confirm the tumor is in remission.

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"It took two weeks for the news to set in," Izaac’s father, Wade, said Monday as he recalled the moment doctors broke the good news. "We were expecting he would need surgery. We went out in the hall with the doctor, and he said, ‘The scans are clear. You’re good to go. Get ready for a normal life.’"

Wade said his son hasn’t wasted any time in his return to school. He has taken up cross-country skiing and recently was elected to Soda Creek’s student council. The Cub Scout also is preparing to be promoted to Boy Scouts in March.

"We’re excited for some normalcy," Wade Kinnison said.

When a CT scan at Yampa Valley Medical Center found the tumor in May, the brain tumor was deemed to be inoperable.

Izaac immediately started treatment at Childrens Hospital in Denver.

From lemonade sales to potlucks, his friends and family here in Steamboat Springs launched several events to benefit Izaac and help his family pay for medical expenses.

His classmates also were quick to shave their heads to make a bald Izaac feel better about his new hair style.

"I really believe all the positive reinforcement has helped," Wade Kinnison said. "It’s been unbelievable."

He added that his son’s attitude during the long treatment cycle that ended last month has brought the family closer together.

"He just went through everything so strongly," he said. "If (the tumor) comes back, he’s ready to take it on again and to take it on in a way that brings the family closer together."

Alpine Insurance, where Wade works as an insurance broker with Izaac’s mom, Lisa, will host a silent auction from 3 to 7 p.m. Friday to benefit Izaac and continue to help the Kinnison family pay for medical expenses.

Co-worker and family friend Jennifer Kelly has dubbed the event a "victory dance" for Izaac.

As he prepares to celebrate his milestone at the auction on Friday, Izaac said he will continue to enjoy his return to school and other familiar routines away from the hospital.

"It’s just nice," Izaac said in class Monday. "It’s just good to be back to normal."

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email