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Prayers for Sandy until the next time we’re together

April 5, 2009
By ABIGAIL MCWILLIAM, Messenger news editor

Say a prayer for Sandy Mickelson.

She's going to be OK, but right now she's sick, and she's scared. Plus, she won't be contributing her weekly column for awhile - and that's probably what's getting to her the most.

In many ways, this is a subject that Sandy would be perfect at writing. She's written countless stories about people who are hurting. But since she can't tell you in her roundabout way, I will.

Sandy got sick a couple weeks back and her doctor discovered that she has a fibroid tumor, about half the size of a football, that is twisted around her uterus. By the time this column hits the stands she hopes to have a surgery date scheduled and hopes to know whether or not the tumor is cancerous.

When Sandy got sick, she really ticked me off. You could hardly tell she was gone - we were in such frequent communication with her. She called the newsroom to check on a number of things - were we taking care of the barbershop quartet and the Pocahontas garden show? Did we get the pictures? Can she run a column she wrote a week ago?

Some of her insistence was driven by a morphine high that she acquired at the hospital. Some of it was because she's a control freak and the rest is her passion for people-pleasing. She tries to do so much for so many, to a fault.

When I went to see her in the hospital she had dozens of work-related questions, but I got her to shut up and talk about her health for awhile. As we chatted, she confessed that she hadn't called Dana, her daughter. Nor had she called her sister. Meanwhile, at least three people in the newsroom had multiple messages from Sandy. Sure, it was sort of a doped up version of drunk dialing, but she wanted to make sure everything at work was taken care of before she could come to terms with taking care of herself.

Since then, she sent an e-mail:

"I'll be back to work in June. Unless there's a bad case of cancer in there. I don't think so, though, but I'm not above asking for prayer.

"I'm just not good at asking for things for myself. In fact, when people are nice to me, I cry. Uncontrollable crying. When my sister, Barbara, said she was going to come from Springfield for the surgery, I cried. That was 20 minutes ago, and I'm still crying. not just drippy tears - full-out sobs to the point that stupid old tumor moves around and hurts me."

It made me sad to think of Sandy crying. I'd much rather have her sitting a few desks away from me, laughing uncontrollably, which she often does.

Sometimes I share lunch with Sandy in the breakroom. Her Walt always packs her a lunch, and I've discovered he doesn't do half bad. Dawn Thompson would almost always split the lunch with Sandy when she worked here, and I know Sandy misses that, so I tag along. We escape from the newsroom and she tells stories about raising Dana, or working at another newspaper, but we always take a break and don't talk much business. When the meal is finished, Sandy pulls out a quarter to buy a handful of M&Ms that we split. Having lunch with Sandy makes me feel better.

Now, I'm hoping the same for her - feel better, Sandy, and get well. And as you would say - so long friend, until the next time when we're together.

Abigail McWilliam is the Messenger news editor. Contact Abigail at (515) 573-2141 or



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