Lifestyle & Human Interest

Devoted Teacher Battling Cancer Teaches from Hospital While Undergoing Chemo


Kelly Klein has been going to Falcon Heights Elementary in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, for decades.

First, she went there as a student, but she’s also spent the last 32 years there as a teacher.

Five years ago, Klein was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and ended up taking half a year off to deal with treatment. Last year, it came back.

But she has a different game plan this time.

Since so much teaching has gone remote anyway, Klein has been able to continue meeting with her 5-year-old crew, even when she’s at the hospital.

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She makes a monthly trip to M Health Fairview Lakes Medical Center in Wyoming, Minnesota, for treatment, but has managed to set up her “office” so she can still teach even as she’s getting chemo.

To hear Klein talk about it, the kids are a vital part of her treatment.

“Teaching 5-year-olds I always say is like going to Disney World,” she told “Good Morning America.” “Everything is exciting and they’re so excited about everything that it gets me excited.

“When you’re at chemo and you’re around a lot of sick people, it’s kind of a depressing place to be. For me, to be around 5-year-olds during that time, it’s like a slice of normalcy in an abnormal environment.”

As Klein’s story makes the rounds, former students have come forward to express their appreciation for her.

“I’ve had a ton of students message me and say that I was ‘that teacher’ for them, that I’m the teacher they remembered,” Klein explained. “That’s all I ever wanted, was to be that teacher for kids.

“To read that back, it was super emotional. That’s all you want as a teacher, to be that teacher for someone.”

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Added to that, the parents of her current students have nothing but positive reviews for Klein and the open way she’s handling her situation.

“She’s a very beloved teacher and she deserves it because she’s the type of teacher who shows up every year,” principal Beth Behnke said of her. “And what she’s doing is part of living in our world, just helping kids manage through lots of situational things that don’t have to define us but are part of our lived experience.”

The elementary school teacher says she is going to continue enjoying the “three F’s: family, 5-year-olds and friends.” She’s also found that it’s crucial to “spend your time with those that lift you up, those who are positive.”

“I’m going to make the most of my time,” she added. “I don’t take anything for granted.”

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