Eleanor Shapiro knew something was different about the floaters she was experiencing in her vision. When she visited a retina specialist in her hometown of Wayne, New Jersey, the doctor wasted no time in sending her to Wills Eye and world-renowned specialists Carol L. Shields, MD, and Jerry A. Shields, MD.
Eleanor was diagnosed with ocular melanoma and started her treatment right away. This was July 1997, and the gold standard of care was an intensive five-day course of plaque radiotherapy, a focal form of radiation. Eleanor spent her 70th birthday at Wills Eye Hospital.
“Everything about my mom’s experience was top-notch,” recalled her daughter, Janet Shapiro, also of Wayne. “It’s amazing what happens there: the expertise of the doctor, the attention to detail in treatment; she could not have been better cared for anywhere else.” Eleanor’s treatment was successful and there were no adverse effects to her eye or vision.
Years later as Janet looked back on her mother’s experience, she said: “Wills Eye gave my mom seven extra years and what a gift that was for my family. My mom passed away in 2005 but because of Wills Eye and her excellent care, she got that extra time. She even fulfilled her dream of taking her whole family on a cruise for her 75th birthday. I feel so blessed and grateful.”
Janet and her mom shared an especially close relationship, and like many parents, Eleanor passed on some valuable lessons to her daughter. The Hebrew concept, tikkun olam, is one example. “It means to do your part to make the world a better place, to repair the world,” explained Janet. “My parents felt fortunate for the good life they enjoyed, so they frequently picked a meaningful charity and made a gift to show their gratitude. Today, I follow that example and make a gift to Wills Eye every summer in honor of my mom’s August 1st birthday. It’s my way of expressing my appreciation.”
Janet has taken this notion a step further in creating her estate plan. “I have included a bequest in my will and established a Charitable Gift Annuity, all to benefit Wills Eye,” said Janet. “I wanted to honor my parents during my lifetime and ensure that others will benefit from quality healthcare as my family did.”