In Loving Memory of Shirley Stoffa

Kindness, unconditional love, generous, caring, and patient. Those are just some of the words that come to mind when I think of Shirley Stoffa. Shirley was my Mother in law, yet so much more.

Shirley was diagnosed with ocular melanoma of the right eye in May of 2008. When I heard of this diagnosis, I didn't believe it. How could someone get cancer in their eye??? Is it even possible? Unfortunately, it is. She underwent plaque radiation at University of Illinois, Chicago. She had the plaque on her eye for five long days. The radiation worked. The tumor died and started to shrink.

Shirley remained proactive in her treatment of this cancer. She had every single one of the follow up scans, xrays, and blood tests. However, every single one of us were naive. Naive in the fact that we had no idea how agressive this cancer is. No idea how nasty this particular form of cancer is.

January 27, 2011 forever changed our family. Shirley started having abdominal pain, intermitent vomiting, and just didn't feel well at all. She had a CT scan of her abdomen that showed a softball sized mass in her liver. The biopsy that followed confirmed that the cancer had spread to her liver. Shirley spent the last 6 weeks of her life in and out of the hospital. She passed away on March 13, 2011 at home surrounded by her loving family.
Shirley is from a small town in northern Illinois. She was known by many and greated everybody with a glowing smile. She was a devout catholic and had such a strong faith in God. Throughout her journey, she never once asked why. She never complained. Not one single time. She loved many, and loved them hard.

Shirley was the matriarch of her family. She was the magnet that made everything come together. To her, there was nothing more important than keeping family ties together. She was such a quiet person, whose presence was felt, even without her saying a word.

Shirley's children (Todd & Sarah) were here life. She loved and lived for them. I see so many of her qualities in both of them! She was a wonderful wife to Mike. She was a talented seamstress that had many waiting in line for one of her items. However, her most favorite thing in the world were her grandchildren. Her face lit up with pure joy everytime she saw them. She often told me that she couldn't go more than one week without seeing them. My heart smiled everytime I saw her with my children. To be able to witness pure, simple, raw love between her and her grandkids was pretty amazing. She had such a loving embrace that was so comforting. You could literally feel the love pour out of her onto you when she hugged you. She didn't believe in the word "no." In her mind, anything could be done. However, sometimes, it just took a little bit of work to make it happen.

I had a conversation with Shirley after the reality of the situation had set in. I asked her what she wanted out of all of this. Obviously, first was to live. However, we knew how hard it was going to be. We knew the statistics. Her second thought was to educate. She wanted to educate others about this disease. She wanted to share her journey with others so they could have a better outcome...again, giving even in her worst hour.

It is our goal, as a family, to carry on Shirley's legacy of giving. We want to raise funds for Ocular Melanoma Research. To raise funds so others don't have to go through not only what Shirley went through, but what we as a family have gone through. This disease is so rare, that funding for it is limited. Please help to fulfill Shirley's last request. Please help us fund research to end this disease.
If you have any questions or want further information about Warrior fundraising with OMF, please email
Shirley Stoffa
July 3, 1951 - March 13, 2011