Iconic former Missouri State women’s basketball star Jackie Stiles, now a coach with the school, on Thursday issued an update on her battle with ocular melanoma. She said she has surgery scheduled Feb. 2 and will be with the Lady Bears for their game on Friday at Southern Illinois in Carbondale.
“Hey, everyone, I know I’ve been quiet the last couple weeks, but I am happy to say that my surgery is officially scheduled for Feb. 2,” Stiles said in a statement through Missouri State. “This process has taken longer than expected after several more consultations with different doctors in different places, and my prognosis remains very good. One bright spot is that the delay has allowed me to spend some time with the team this week, and I will even be on the bench tomorrow night at SIU!
"Thanks to everyone for all the support so far, it means the world to me.
“I can’t wait to be back coaching the team on a full-time basis, and still plan on waiting to share my experience until after that time.
At Missouri State, then known as Southwest Missouri State, Stiles led the team to the 2001 Final Four in St. Louis and became the game’s career leading scorer until her record was broken last season.
Her work ethic, grace and kindness made her a cherished figure, in Missouri, her native Kansas, the region and beyond, and there has been an outpouring of love and sympathy for her since she announced in early January that she was taking a leave to take on cancer.
She said at the time the illness had been discovered early, but those who know her best are deeply concerned.
“The more prayers the better,” Cheryl Burnett, her coach with the Lady Bears, recently told The Star. “She’ll be fighting for her life, basically.”