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U-M CCC - Progress Newsletter Spring 2004 Online

Unsung Heroes

Haskell and Joy Shelton: Purveyors of Life's "Little Sparkles"

How did you get involved with the Cancer Center?

About three-and-one-half years ago, my husband Haskell (Hal), came down with what we first thought was a cold, but later learned was acute lymphocytic leukemia.We came to U-M for treatment, which was very successful, and we continue to return for follow-up about twice a year.

In treatment, you spend time waiting with other patients. We’d watch the children and see how upset and frightened they were. We used to feel so great when the Therapaws folks would come through with dogs to pet – it made such a difference for the kids. We started to wonder, “What could we do to make a difference?”

You’ve certainly made a big difference. Tell us what you’ve been up to.

Everything started when a friend heard about where we were going and organized a group at her church to knit and crochet blankets and hats. Getting people involved proved to be contagious – people started to think “I could do that,” and what started out small snowballed. One of our knitting friends put us in touch with an area costume shop about to be remodeled, and through them we gathered a whole trunk full of costume samples to bring to the pediatric area for Halloween – the kids had so
much fun going through that trunk!

Next, a local area pharmacy donated a bunch of Beanie Babies for us to bring to the kids. It got so every trip we made to Ann Arbor our car was filled with something from people in our community. Every time we’d give a little we’d run into someone who would give even more.

What’s your latest project for the kids?

Well, when Hal was in treatment, we both found music to be very helpful to us. We thought, “it must be ten times tougher for kids – wouldn’t it be great if they could have their own music?” So we purchased 100 portable CD players and about 200 different CDs and a supply of batteries. We took all of that to the Child Life Program, and we got to see some of them given to kids in treatment. It was just tremendous!

What would you say to people who want to get involved, but don’t know where to start?
Anything and everything you do makes a difference. It doesn’t have to be done in a big way. Support from others is like a diamond in the dust for parents and kids facing cancer. They’re so touched that someone else is thinking of them. Parents and caregivers can get so wrapped up in the process, they don’t have the time or the energy to supply life’s “little sparkles.” That’s what we try to do.

What’s next for you?

Books. We’re bringing a whole bunch with us on our next trip to Ann Arbor.


Your chance to shine.
Patients and families undergoing treatment at the Cancer Center need all the sparkle they can get. To find out ways you can brighten the lives of those touched by cancer, call the Patient Support Services staff at 1-734-615-3122 or the Development office at 1-734-764-7170 or visit How to Support the Cancer Center .

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Speak with a Cancer nurse: 1-800-865-1125
Please Note:

This article is part of the Cancer Center's News Archive, and is listed here for historical purposes.

The information and links may no longer be up-to-date.

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