By Megan Baldridge
(Manson, Iowa) – As a certified nursing assistant, 18-year-old Kalene Klaassen helps care for residents at Good Samaritan Society – Manson. But when she was a toddler, it was one of these residents who helped care for her.
Kalene was diagnosed with cancer when she was a year old. Her treatments took place at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., more than 200 miles away from her Iowa home.
For almost a year, Kalene would travel with her parents, Jan and Jim, for cancer treatments, splitting time between Minnesota and Iowa.
Ed Egli, a neighbor Jan knew as a child growing up in Manson, heard about Kalene’s situation and the Klaassens’ long journeys back and forth for months. Ed organized a fundraiser for the family, with proceeds helping them with the cost of travel and
living in two places.
Today, Kalene has been in remission for more than 17 years. She now works with her mom at Good Samaritan Society – Manson, where Jan is a licensed practical nurse. During a recent shift when they were both working, Jan took her daughter to a resident’s room.
The resident was Ed Egli.
Ed hadn’t seen Kalene since she was a child. When Jan asked if he remembered Kalene, a smile spread across his face. “This is that little girl?” he asked as he reached for her hand.
Ed admits that his memory is a bit foggy on some parts of his life, but he remembered Kalene and the fundraiser he did for her like it was yesterday.
“Seventeen years ago, I helped take care of you,” Ed said to Kalene. “Now you help take care of me!”
Kalene and Ed’s hands were locked together in a tight squeeze as they talked with Jan about the blessings of growing up in a small Iowa town surrounded by caring friends and neighbors. That same kindness and support is evident in the same town with the same people, nearly two decades later.
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