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T-shirt: In whatever language, there is always hope

October 4, 2009
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer

Anything medical amazes me. From snipping off an ugly skin tag to replacing hips, it's amazing. I'm not bad with the sight of blood - from years of bleeding injuries when I was growing up, I guess - but I am amazed at everything that can be done and amazed by those who do it. What they do often seems like a miracle.

Nancy Shelton, of Webster City, is going through a medical miracle of her own. Diagnosed last May with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells, she is now at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., in the middle of a treatment that sounds ominous, at best. Her husband, Bill, is at her side.

Shelton's own stem cells were removed and frozen, put back into her body after doctors stripped her immune system to nothing, flushing everything - good and bad alike. On Tuesday and again on Wednesday, she had monster chemo sessions, the equivalent of a year's treatment. Friday her stem cells were put back in a session that lasted from early in the morning until evening.

Because this column went to press before that happened, I can't tell you about the replanting process, but there is a spot on the Internet where Shelton's information appears. That's

On her site, Shelton wrote: "Have been doing some sewing while up here, but the last few days I've been continuing my composing. It all started last week when I was having a nuclear test called a PET scan - this one I didn't have to study for. Suddenly my mind visualized all of these doctors, dressed in blue scrubs with accompanying stethoscopes, dancing across the stage to this honky-tonk tune, 'Rochester, Rochester.'

"Have a few other tunes ramblin' thru my mind. Have not developed the plot of this musical yet, but be assured it will have a 'Mary Poppins' ending. A little pathos, a lot of humor and of course the traditional 'Boy meets Girl' themes will be incorporated in this new endeavor. (Wonder if I've been here too long.)"

Sadie Anderson, of Ames, and her sister, Amanda Kalkwarf, of Webster City, spend as much time with Shelton as possible. But they've also turned their energy to doing something about cancer awareness.

"We designed a T-shirt," Anderson said. "It's for finding a cure for cancer and that there's hope. There are 10 colors of cancer ribbons with the word hope in different languages. No matter how you say it, hope can heal."

Yes, hope can heal.

Anderson works for an Ames screenprinting and embroidery company that's helping with the project. Sigler Printing will provide the labor, art and printing of shirts, keeping only enough money to cover the cost of the shirt. All other proceeds will be donated to Shelton to help with the cost of being sick.

That's a high cost, emotionally, but can be devastating financially, too.

Shelton's church, First Congregational United Church of Christ in Webster City, will serve a spaghetti dinner Oct. 11, starting at 11:30 a.m. for a freewill donation, with proceeds going to Shelton. They're also planning entertainment - music from church and community groups Shelton was part of.

Order forms for T-shirts are available at the Hamilton County Public Health Department in Webster City or by e-mail to

Anyone who buys a shirt of hope is asked to take a photo of himself or herself wearing the shirt and e-mail it to Anderson at the e-mail. Kalkwarf will then put together a scrapbook of everything that comes in from family and friends, because as much healing as there is in hope, there's healing in the realization that others are praying for you.

Maybe it's the love. I'm sure it's the love.

So long friends until the next time when we're together.

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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