03/12/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 03/12/2019 21:27
For college basketball fans, the arrival of the Big Dance means one thing: countless hours spent binge-watching the big games.
Myron Hepner sees the occasion as much more than leisure time.
It represents another chance to thank the medical teams that saved his infant son's life after discovering a rare eye cancer - gratitude the Ann Arbor resident has shown at this time each year for more than a decade.
On March 21 and 22, Hepner will once again hold court while catching the NCAA action at Pizza House, a local mainstay, as part of the 13th annual March Hoops to BEAT Blindness fundraiser.
The drop-in viewing party, open to anyone, collects money to support the University of Michigan's Kellogg Eye Center - a place where Hepner and his family are no strangers.
'They've provided us with great care,' says Hepner. 'We're so grateful for how they treated us, over and over again, at every single appointment.'
His son, Brendan, was diagnosed with retinoblastoma at 9 months old. The cancer is a tumor of the retina, the thin nerve tissue that lines the back of the eye.
Found in 1 out of every 18,000 births, it most commonly occurs in children age 5 and younger. It may surface in one or both eyes. Left untreated, it can metastasize to other parts of the body.
In Brendan's case, Kellogg surgeons removed his cancerous right eye to prevent the disease from spreading. He wears a prosthetic eye in its place and returns to the clinic once a year for a checkup.
Now 15 and cancer-free, Brendan is happy to champion the Kellogg care team (and watch basketball, of course) with his father.
Says the elder Hepner: 'We have a very personal reason to support them.'