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One Mother’s Race to a Cure

As if three young children, a busy household and working outside the home don’t keep her busy enough, Yolanda Scaramuzzo found the time to run her first Boston Marathon. She has been a recreational runner for 20 years, but this time she ran for more than just the exercise: she ran for the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

Mrs. Scaramuzzo’s son, Eric, was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare childhood cancer of the eye when he was 16-months-old. Eric had lost central vision in his right eye and the vision in his left eye was also threatened by the time he was diagnosed. At that time, their doctor told them there was no proven treatment for Eric’s condition. The Scaramuzzos were faced with the possibility that Eric might lose his eyesight completely. “We spoke with many specialists, but no one really knew what to do,” Mrs. Scaramuzzo said. Then the Scaramuzzos met Dr. Shizuo Mukai at Mass. Eye and Ear.

Through his research into cures for a range of eye diseases, including retinoblastoma, Dr. Mukai found success with proton beam radiation treatment. After six weeks of treatment, Eric’s vision was saved, but there is still no cure for retinoblastoma.

“Last year, as I was watching the marathoners run by, I decided that I wanted to run the Boston Marathon to raise money for Dr. Mukai. “I know I can never repay Dr. Mukai for what he did for my son, but I would like to help him save other children’s eyesight,” she said.