Inspiring

Teacher with terminal cancer joined by kindergarteners while she gets chemo

January 12th, 2021

Distance learning has been an adjustment for students and teachers alike during the pandemic.

While many teachers are teaching students through the internet from their homes, Kelly Klein is teaching from “her doctor’s house.”

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Pixabay Source: Pixabay

That’s how one of her kindergarten students refers to the hospital room where Klein receives chemotherapy as she teaches her classes via Zoom while hooked up to an IV bag that delivers a cancer-fighting drug through a port in her chest.

Klein’s sessions at M Health Fairview Lakes Medical Center in Wyoming, Minnesota last between four and five hours long.

“They’re helping me be strong,” Klein says of her 21 students. “Because it’s real easy to go down the ‘Why me?’”

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Caring Bridge Source: Caring Bridge
Klein, who has 20-year-old twins, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer about five years ago.

She had surgery to remove tumors and endured aggressive chemotherapy to rid herself of cancer.

Unfortunately, she found out that cancer came back on the fifth anniversary of her last chemotherapy treatment.

“I just had a really bad feeling that something might be up,” Klein told Kare 11. “Now that it’s returned, it’s not curable. It’s terminal.”

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fairview.org Source: fairview.org
Klein has been teaching at Falcon Heights Elementary School, where she attended as a child, for the last 32 years.

She would rather continue teaching than go on medical leave.

Principal Beth Behnke was intent on making that happen for Klein. So, she reached out to the parents of her students via email explaining that there might be some nurses walking back and forth during Klein’s Zoom classes.

“The last time around I had a posse of friends that went with me to chemo every week. And with COVID I can’t have that. So, what better way to spend four or five hours than with 5-year-olds,” Klein said.

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GoFundMe Source: GoFundMe

Parent Dan Fergus says that the experience gave him an opportunity to have important family discussions.

“He knows that there are people taking care of her, there are doctors and nurses taking care of her,” Fergus said of his child.
“That she chose them to be with her is something pretty amazing,” parent Sarah Derdoski says becoming emotional. “Couldn’t have asked for a better teacher. I can’t imagine what she would do in person, if she can do this, from there.”
In addition to explaining about the nurses, Klein is going to have to soon bring up the fact that her hair and eyebrows are starting to thin.

She plans to do this through science experiments and books about gingerbread girls.

“I want them to see that cancer isn’t a death sentence,” Klein explains. “You can still be happy and playful and silly and funny and energized.”
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YouTube Screenshot Source: YouTube Screenshot
When their science project is complete, Klein makes sure to encourage her “scientists” for a job well done.

“I’m their best cheerleader,” she says. “It’s really building their self-efficacy so that they can know that they can do anything in this world. Maybe they’ll invent a cure for cancer. Wouldn’t that be wonderful.”

Learn more about Klein’s story in the video below. You can also donate to a GoFundMe toward Klein’s treatment as well as ovarian cancer research here.

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

Source: KARE 11, GoFundMe

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