Children's Minnesota helps patients get back to school

Updated: August 23, 2019 09:27 AM

Nine-year-old Kaelee Dufrane says it took almost as much courage to start third grade as it did to beat cancer.

"I was worried because they were going to ask me questions, like 'Why do I look different? And why is all my hair gone?'" she said.


Kaelee missed most of second grade while she was undergoing cancer treatment at Children's Minnesota.  When she was discharged in time for a new school year, she wasn't prepared for all the questions about how she looked and where she had been.

In cases like this, Children's Minnesota sends in their "re-entry" specialists.  A team designed to help kids like Kaelee go back to school after an extended time in the hospital.

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They work with teachers in advance and work with students on how to ask questions and understand their classmate's condition.  In Kaelee's case, they even showed the other third graders pictures and videos from the hospital.

"It's really giving them the information and the language and the opportunity to ask questions where it's not on the playground and it can be in a facilitated way," said Rachel Calvert, with Children's Minnesota.

Over the years, the re-entry program has helped more than 2,000 students.  This fall, specialists are preparing to visit as many as 90 schools throughout Minnesota.

The program is supported by Twin Cities area Great Clips.  Beginning Saturday, a portion of the proceeds from each haircut will help kids with cancer or other serious illnesses go back to school with confidence. Click here for more information.

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Ellen Galles

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