Community rallies around Allendale woman battling cancer

ALLENDALE, Mich. -- Michele VanDyken of Allendale is currently in the fight of her life as she battles stage 2 breast cancer. On Tuesday, she got an emotional lift from a surprise prayer circle and some encouragement from the organization Shields of Hope.

VanDyken was just diagnosed in January, and it's been a difficult journey for her. But what she witnessed on Tuesday reminded her that she is not alone.

More than 50 people showed up at her house Tuesday to give her emotional and spiritual support through a prayer circle. There was another surprise when Shields of Hope, a group of volunteers made up of police, firefighters and 911 dispatchers, showed up.

"If you had any doubt about people loving you, look at this display of people that showed up," Jeff Potter with Shields of Hope said at the gathering.

"It's very overwhelming and emotional for us," VanDyken said. "But we've been totally blessed. Cancer sucks as everyone says, but we've been totally blessed.

Michele also received a gift bag and a special coin from Shields of Hope. She also got to sign the Shields of Hope car, a vehicle covered with the signatures of others in the fight against cancer.

"'Thank you' just doesn't seem like enough," VanDyken said.

This wasn't the only way the community has shown their support for VanDyken. Last weekend, a fundraiser brought in $20,000 to help pay for medical bills. Michele has three more chemotherapy treatments over the next two months and will need surgery in June, followed by six more weeks of radiation treatment.

If you'd like to nominate someone for a Shields of Hope visit or donate to the organization, head to their website.

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