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VIProfile: Dan Klein




Dan Klein was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in January of 2014 as a husband and father of four young children. Dan set up a Caring Bridge account to share his thoughts, journey, struggles and inspiration with friends and family. January 13th, 2014 - “I believe I was just told I have cancer.” This entry started his journey and following of inspired readers.

Two months into chemotherapy Dan and Claire got the doctor’s permission to go to a conference in Las Vegas so they went for it. It turned out, however, to be much more physically exhausting than Dan had imagined and while they were there he only attended one workshop. That one session was on Doing the Impossible - explained through Roger Bannister’s unthinkable record setting achievement. Roger Bannister, in 1954 on a field in Oxford England, ran a mile in under four minutes - 3 minutes and 59 seconds. At the time is was accepted that the human body both physically and medically was not capable of such a thing. Yet, after Bannister shattered that theory, the record was quickly broken by yet another runner, proving what our mind believes impacts our capabilities.

“I realized that going through cancer you can do a lot more than you think you can,” said Dan. His first and only goal in the beginning was to survive chemotherapy. The family has an old family lake cottage in Northern Michigan and he set his sights on being on that dock post treatment. After his 12th round of chemotherapy they drove straight there and Dan gathered his inspiration for his “reflections from the end of the dock.” Each year since, they have continued to celebrate life there together as a family.

Through Dan’s cancer journey and after, as he began setting his 3:59s, he was encouraged by friends and family to write a book on his experience. “Dan has a really good way with his words. He’s inspiring and faith-filled. When the idea was set in motion I thought it was great. I thought people going through not just cancer, but any adversity, were really going to benefit from this book,” said Claire. “The gift of cancer was getting taught to everyone around us. As they started setting their own 3:59s we realized, there’s something we can give here, there’s something beyond just us. So I started writing,” said Dan.

Dan reconnected with a kindergarten friend, Larry, who happened to be a publisher. They spoke every Friday for eight months and at the end, had written the book. Larry encouraged Claire to write from her perspective in the book, as his wife, best friend, and care giver, so others could also connect through her journey. My 3:59: The Man I’m Called to Be, is about their life, journey through cancer and reflections from the end of the dock. “The book is a story about life. Focus on what you can control, and take one day at a time. Not everyone will be diagnosed with cancer or face a life threatening issue, but you can insert any challenge into this story, set your objective and begin setting goals to get through it, one step at a time,” said Dan.

Prior to his diagnosis, Dan had a goal of dunking a basketball by his 40th birthday, but never accomplished it. As his first 3:59 goal post treatment, Dan dunked a basketball in April of 2015. “I got the dunk, but more importantly I realized how much more I was capable of,” said Dan. From then he has accomplished many personal 3:59s, some physical, but not all, including running marathons, hiking the Grand Canyon numerous times, learning to play the guitar, starting his own business, and this year, completing an Ironman, just to name a few.

They have also accomplished many as a couple, and as a family. However, My 3:59 evolved into more about the fellowship of others who were accomplishing their own 3:59s. One of Dan and Claire’s favorite stories is a grandmother who never learned to swim and took lessons to surprise her grandson by hopping in the pool with him one summer, something she had always dreamed of. My 3:59 is about experiencing life to the fullest and setting out each and every day to be the best you can be. They have enjoyed stories of others’ accomplishments and pictures of the remarkable achievements people have shared. My 3:59 is about support, celebration and inspiration.

As a family the Klein’s support and encourage each other. They teach their children to love really hard and really strong. Through life’s busyness they find time to come together at the end of each day with ice cream and devotion - discussing what they are thankful for and sharing gratitude. Dan spends time speaking at events and sharing his story, hoping to inspire the next 3:59 and encourage everyone he can to be the best version of themselves. The Klein family knows cancer was given to them as a gift and they have embraced it to its fullest.

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