“Cake Boss” Mama Mary Valastro Diagnosed With ALS

“Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro is known for his exuberance, especially when talking about baked goods.

But today Valastro’s tone was much more somber as he announced that his mother, Mary Valastro, 64, has been diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Buddy revealed to People magazine:

I can confirm that my mother Mary – the heartbeat of the Valastro family and Mama to all of Carlo’s Bakery – has been diagnosed with ALS.  She is tackling it with the strength and determination she always shows, and the entire family is in this together, fighting for her. We’d like to thank all of our fans for the love and prayers – it means a great deal to all of us.

“Mama” (as she is known to fans of the show) kept the family bakery, Carlo’s Bakery, going after her husband died in 1994. Although she retired in 2010, she still makes appearances on the program.

NBC is reporting that the finale of the current season of Cake Boss, airing July 23, “will focus on Mary’s illness and her family’s reaction to it.”

What is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)?

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a debilitating neurological disease.07.04.ALS1

In ALS, the nerve cells that control muscles (“motor neurons”) are damaged. Muscle cells depend on the stimulation from nerves to function, and without this stimulation, muscle cells weaken or die.

This leads to the classic symptom of progressive muscle weakness.

ALS occurs most frequently in adults over 40.

Symptoms are usually noticed first in the arms and hands, legs, or swallowing muscles. Affected individuals lose strength and the ability to move their arms, legs, and body.

Other symptoms include spasticity, muscle cramps, and increased problems with swallowing and forming words. Speech can become slurred or nasal.

When muscles of the diaphragm and chest wall fail to function properly, individuals lose the ability to breathe without mechanical support.

Most patients die within 3 to 5 years from the onset of symptoms.

Although the disease does not usually impair a person’s mind or personality, several recent studies suggest that some people with ALS may have alterations in cognitive functions such as problems with decision-making and memory.

It is currently unknown what causes Amyotrophic Lateral Scherosis.

Organizations such as the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke support a broad range of research aimed at discovering the cause(s) of neuromuscular diseases such as ALS, finding better treatments, and, ultimately, preventing and curing this disorders.

Various animal models (animals that have been designed to mimic the disease in humans) are being used to study disease pathology and identify chemical and molecular processes involved in cellular degeneration.  ALS (and other muscle diseases such as spinal muscular atrophy)  may eventually be treated or cured by research involving new drugs, growth factors and stem cell therapy.

Valastro photo credit: George Lange / TLC

For more information, click below:


Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.


  1. Melanie L.

    July 23, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    You are in my prayers mama. I’ve been with you since the start of the show and I have you in my minds and prayers. Get well soon and god bless you and the entire familigua
    XOXO- Melanie L

    • Laurie aubrey

      August 19, 2013 at 10:09 pm

      Mama, You are in myprayers . You are so very special.Your family loves you and needs you.

  2. sh'nya banton

    July 23, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    buddy i am so srry for what happened to your mother i am 12 and i watch ur show everyday[and i mean everyday] and to see that happen to your mother devistates me i watch ur show so much i feel like i know your family but this isnt about me and i will keep her and ur family in prayers.

  3. shyann aarons

    July 23, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    hey BUDDY i am so so sorry about what happened to your mother i hope she gets well me and my sister is in love with your show we watch it everyday we love the different cake and the designs and SUNSHINE is a good decorater and i will pray that your mother will get better GET WELL BUDDYS MOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Rebecca Carson

    July 23, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    I just wanted to write and say I am so sorry you had to traverse this road with your mama. My mom suffered from als for quite a few years prior to diagnosis, I know what it was like for your mama to be misdiagnosed with something else.
    My mom passed nearly 6 years ago. I wish I could talk to you to tell me what I went through, only if it could give you some knowledge as to what is to come.

  5. Victoria Hayhurst

    July 23, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    Mama, ipray that you will feel better from ALS!! you were a really nice and independant woman. :] FEEL BETTER!!

    Buddy, your cakes really rock!! hope mama feels good!

    • Victoria Hayhurst

      July 23, 2012 at 10:10 pm

      i just watched the new episode. i was really feelin’ sad:{

  6. Alfred and Kim Haynes

    July 23, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    We were saddened to hear about Buddy’s mama. We love this family and wanted to let them know that they are in our prayers.

  7. Deborah

    July 24, 2012 at 1:08 am

    If asked, my advice for Mary would be to remind her of the power of prayer… two or more agreeing. to Buddy, allow your Mom to remain as independent as possible for as long as possible. It will keep her strong and keep the fight in her. Yes she will get angry and you may be the receiver of that anger, but as long as she’s angry, she’s still fighting.

    No, I don’t know either Mary or Buddy but…. I was my own mama’s caregiver for 15 years. She was my heart, my life and my world. She had several strokes as a complication of her diabetes. The doctors didn’t think she would live more than 2 or 3 years but she fought. Yes, I lost her when she was just 65 years old but that was 12 to 13 years longer than we thought we’d have her. Again the power of prayer.

    I will but the Vilastro family on my prayer chain.

  8. Lisa

    July 24, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Mama and The Valastro Family,
    Our thoughts and prayers are with you! We hope they find a cure for this disease so you can heal. Many prayers are going out for you daily! Keep fighting, we love seeing that beautiful smile of yours mama! Your such an inspiration to all! We Love you! You make us feel like family! The Kramer Family

  9. Mary Louise

    July 24, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    Sincere prayers and love to Mamma and the family. Keep smiling Mary – God loves you a bunch. He will protect you.
    Much love.
    Buddy, keep those rosaries going – like a chain to our Lady.

    Love and prayers to all.

  10. Pat Hunt

    July 24, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    Sorry to hear about this diagnosis. I’m sure I speak for many of your fans from North Carolina when I say Mama is in our prayers! Keep your faith up and that beautiful smile! God is with you always.

    • Sylvia

      November 26, 2013 at 6:03 am

      Awee my sorry about your mama I will be praying for her your mama seems like a sweet lady…..

  11. Yvonne

    July 25, 2012 at 12:39 am

    To Buddy & his family:

    My thoughts & my prayers are with you & your loved ones. We love our mamma & I know that we don’t want anything bad to happen to them. My advice is just let her be a little independent as she possibly can for as long as she is able. Then & only then when she has trouble doing something tell her that you will be their for whatever she needs. I was sad when I heard the news thougjh. I watch you guys all the time & I feel like you are family to me. So, anyway give you MAMMA a big kiss & tell her that it will be o.k & I will keep praying for you & your family. May god bless all of you.

  12. zsa zsa

    July 25, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Mama, i hope u get well soon! i pray 4 u and ur family to get through this struggle!
    Buddy, i know how hard it is. a relative of mine i suffering, but all it takes is a bit of courage and love!
    hang in there, U CAN DO IT MAMA!
    best wishes!

  13. Janet Henrikson

    July 25, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Dear Buddy and Family so sorry to hear about your mom who has ALS my mom had it’ I wish all your
    family the best and your mom’ May God be with you at this time. Janet

  14. lorie vongphrachanh

    July 25, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Buddy i was sadden to here of your mother’s being diagnosed with als, i have been worrying myself if i have it. i have to go through alot test to rule out other things. I know muscle twitching and muscle weakness is some symtoms i just pray it is something else.I will keep your family in my prayers for mama and for my self. Please keep us updated on your mama.

  15. Kathryn Jones

    July 29, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Hello Buddy!

    My church family continues to pray for Mary’s comfort and mercy while she battles this most devastating disease.
    I came up with a few ideas for allowing the family to ease her pain. Build a “sun room” for her preferably facing west, with many big windows, so she may enjoy the sunset during the evening. Decorate the room with off-white wicker furniture with many pillows and plants to make the room “airy.” This room painted “eggshell white” and “lemon cream” for the trim should do the trick. (The baby’s room featured in the movie, Father of the Bride II is the scheme I was trying to picture.) Let her make a mini “bucket list.” She may not want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, for I am sure she can think of a few of her own.
    Sign her up for a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly complete body spa. Suggest that a a good friend or grand child or daughter accompany her as a special treat. We are talking totally upscale treatment that your mama deserves. Have her Priest visit her weekly (or whenever), to grant her an extra “Holy Communion or Confession or Confirmation” as her spirit permits. I would want her family to applaud any progress, enjoy with celebration any birthday, anniversary, no matter how big or small. Maybe she would like a “HighTea” (old fashion-style, with BIG hats) with small gathering of old friends and/or granddaughters(called a Teddy Bear Tea). This is fun. I know there are tons of literature out there for posititve thoughts and inspirations. These would complement her sun room and may not. Maybe she would just like to view the granduer that God creates in the evening. God bless you. God loves you.

  16. Teresa

    July 30, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    You are in my prayers. I am 100% Italian so I know how much family means to you. Watching that e9isode made me cry. You guys are so strong and don’t ever forget that. God has a time and a place for everybody and he knows what’s best. My family and I will keep praying and I know others will too. Don’t ever forget where you came from. Love you guys so much!!!


  17. Alga

    July 30, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    Dear Buddy, because “il sangue non diventa acqua” our prayers to Mamma Valastro and all your family, Alga and family

  18. Adelaida williams

    July 30, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    I cant say i ve watched every show but i can say i love watching when i remember. My prayers for the family. I wish to be for my kids how you are for your family. Mama you are the bomb and you know He is taking care of you all. Continue having fun! Some day ill visit Carlos bakery way and shake your hands. Smooches

  19. Kathy G

    July 30, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    Hi Mary,

    I was So Sorry to hear about your health struggle:( I will pray for you and that God will Heal you in the name of Jesus!!!

    I’m a born-again Christian and I’m gonna trust that Jesus will heal you:)

    Kathy G

  20. Rebecca

    July 31, 2012 at 1:05 am

    My thoughts and prayers are with the entire Valastro family. God bless.

  21. carolyn schutz

    July 31, 2012 at 1:21 am

    Let me tell you how sorry I am that your mother has been diagnosed with ALS. I know all too well what you are going through. My dear brother had ALS and I to was there when they gave him the news. Remember to laugh with each other and have faith in God.

  22. linda sue

    July 31, 2012 at 1:55 am

    Dear Mama,
    Just heard you were diagnosed with ALS.
    You are such a strong woman and very beautiful. I love the strength that you have instilled in your family. From the first day I watched the show was when you made sure that all cakes were made decent not erotic and I love that no matter what, you were in charge. Your whole family’s love for you is much to be admired. I am sending this prayer for you: “Lord in Jesus name I pray, place your hand upon Mama Velastro and give her the strength and the wisdom each day from the top of her head to the tip of her toes, from the blood that flows through her entire body and make her stronger than ever”. God Bless you and your entire family and trust in the Lord with all your heart and soul for he will give you the desires of your heart and may our Virgin Mary hold and protect you and also give you the strength each day that comes.
    Love Linda Sue frm satx

  23. Madison

    July 31, 2012 at 9:05 am

    Mamma tua fonte di ispirazione per tutti noi. 5 anni fa ho perso mia nonna al cancro ed erano una famiglia italiana, proprio come la tua famiglia. Una malattia portare la famiglia più vicini e si guarda stupefacente e yo il tuo nelle mie preghiere e la mia famiglia Everday preghiere. Abbiamo sempre guardare lo spettacolo sera cena in famiglia. Per essere un italiano parla di famiglia. Una volta che una famiglia da sempre una famiglia, restare forti “buddy mamma” come il mio fratello ti chiama. Tu lo ricordi tutta la famiglia. Vi vogliamo bene. Il tuo sempre nei nostri cuori. (my italian sucks sorry! )

  24. Dayami More

    August 3, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    Mamma i hope you get better , i been followed the series since the beginning, you are a strong lady and with the support of your beautiful family everything going to be fine , remember how you always say YOU THE BOSS, we all love you .

  25. Cassie Jern

    August 15, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. My entire family watch the show. You are in our prayers and hope to feel better very soon.

  26. precious k

    September 10, 2012 at 12:03 am

    how the family?how is your mom? i went 2 church 2 day & something just told me 2 write your family& they say the first voice u always hear is the lord.i loved your show I hope u guys be back on this season.& your mom is ok still.

  27. Kathy W.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:58 am

    All my prayers and heartfelt good wishes go out to you Mary and all of your wonderful family. I was so devastated when I heard the news…I have watched your show from the beginning and feel like you are part of my family. God Bless and all love and support to you all.

  28. Norma

    October 27, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Buddy, I hope and pray that your mother is doing well. I try to watch your show every time it is on. I lost my mother this Jan.22.2012 to cancer. She was 92yrs and 10months . I miss her ever day.
    Give your mom a hug and tell her I am praying for her every day

  29. Mmmmmmmmm

    November 4, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    Mama and Family

    I am very sad to hear mama has been diagnosed with ALS. I am a huge fan of Cake Boss! I have cakeboss shirts, aprons, sweatshirts, coffee mugs and everything else. When I was 11 I started watching the show. I was interested in baking then. I would make cupcakes and brownies and my dad took them to his work everyone loved them. Now I make tiered cakes and people hire me to make them. Usually a 13 year old girl would be babysitting someone to get extra cash, but not me, i bake. Now I make dinner for my family and watch foodnetwork all the time. Cakeboss has inspired me and changed my life! I am even learning Italian and want to go to Italy someday. You guys are the best! When I heard mama had ALS I started to cry. I pray for her every morning and night praying that she will be ok. I really hope she will get better.

    Thank you again for the inspiration and I will definitely keep mama in my prayers!


  30. ASH

    January 21, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    My God bless her soul. I just lost my mother-in-law about 2 months ago to ALS and it was a long, torturous road. I pray that Mary can live a long, full life despite the disease and may my mother-in-law’s body be the one to find the cure that can help Mary!!

  31. Gwen Shivar

    January 21, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Hi Buddy and mama,
    My mother was diagnosed with ALS November 2012. As you know it was devastating news but we are fighting with everything possible. My moms outlook is amazing and she keeps us uplifted. My mom is 73 and otherwise very healthy. I will keep you and your family in my prayers and wish you the best. We are from Eastern NC and See a doctor at the ALS clinic at Duke Hospital. We go tomm and see Dr Bedlack for our 2nd visit.
    Gwen Shivar.

  32. Sandra C

    January 21, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    Dear Buddy @ Family,

    I am very aware of the ALS disease, it is not pleasant! I am devistated by your mom’s illness and have a tremendous need to write to you.

    Our Father in Heaven chooses only the best to join Him, sometimes earlier than others.

    While this seems unfair to those of us who are alve and well on earth, He works in wondrous ways. Perhaps your father wants her with him. Maybe your father thinks you folks have had her long enough and he loaned her to you for just a while!

    Your family is tremendously loving, caring and very protective. This alone will help you parents see through this valley all of your family and friends.

    My Thoughts and Prayers are with you.

    Sincerely, Sandra

  33. Sandi Kruise

    January 22, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Although I am so very sorry to hear about Mama Valestro’s diagnosis, I can only hope that the high visability associated with celebrities can bring more awareness to ALS.
    My husband is in his mid-50’s and has several family members who have passed away from ALS. They include his father, at least 2 uncles and an aunt and his older brother. I also worry about my 25 year old son and his chances of developing the disease.
    Little attention has been paid to this devastating disease and there is no cure. I hope that we can inspire more interest in ALS along with more visatility and hopefully more money for research.

  34. Yvette

    January 23, 2013 at 8:03 am

    My heart goes out to the Valastro family I just found out not to long ago that my cousin whom lives in jersey as well has the same decease and I wanted to know more about it so I started reading up on this and the more I read the more my heart dropped to think how awful this is and that your mother and my cousin along with more families have to go through this heart wrenching time to watch them and not being able to do anything but give them all the support and love possible, I wish I could do more for her but all I can do is tell her I love her every chance I get because I’m not sure how much longer she will be with us , I LOVE YOU VICKI ,,, love your cousin

  35. zack lemos

    March 6, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    Mary,you are an incredible woman,and you are very strong.my thoughts and prayers go to you andyour family.

  36. antoinette

    May 5, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    Im so sorry about what your’re goin through.my mom unfortunately has als.she got diagnosed last year june.i cry myself to sleep at night.this evil disease have no mercy.my mom cant speak,use her right arm or walk properly.it breaks my heart to see her like tht.she cries alot.i dnt want my mom to suffer and i pray to god everyday to help everybody with als and create miracles.i believe god will help my mom and everybody else.lets believe,hv faith and pray to god.if any1 can help its our almight father.

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    May 17, 2013 at 1:32 am

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  38. S. Swann

    May 27, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    Hi Cake Boss Family,

    My name is Selina Swann, I am the author of “Healthy Me Book” http://www.amazon.com/Healthy-Me-Selina-Swann/dp/1591097789
    and I love your show.

    I was looking and saw an episode of “Mama” being diagnosed with ALS. First they misdiagnos her; then they say we will just make her comfortable, which means they are going to medicate, not cure. I certainly believe the medical industry has a place, my mom has a Master’s herself in nursing, but let me tell you a well kept secret, when you go into a natural/wholistic store most of the people there are in the medical industry! I love who your mother is to your family.
    Why not try something natural? It certainly won’t hurt…I am sure if you talk with your mom she will tell you how in the “old country” they used herbs for everything. I have had friends literally cured from cancer and all kinds of diseases over the years; I myself was told I could never have children and after I followed the instructions of a wholistic doctor, I was pregnant in less than a year, naturally delivered, and did not experience one day of morning sickness (Although my mom was bedridden for all three of her pregnancies)! Why not give them a try? Here are a couple of places, call them and see how you feel:

    1. http://www.besthealingclinic.com/als-natural-care/

    2. http://thejewelnetwork.net/ ** (please note she is a bit quirky; She talks over your head, but don’t worry about that she IS a genius and through God’s Herbs have cured maybe thousands from disease. Be Patient it is very worth it!)

    God Bless You and the Family,


  39. Katherine

    May 27, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    I have watched your show from the start you and your family are so strong ,I hope your doing as well as you can , I hope with your celebrity status there will be more interest and new things that might come out about this desease. Im a semi-retired hairdresser and have a client that has been diagonesd with this desease we live in the midwest , i know she is taking a medication that is very expensive ,and when she went to the Dr he didnt give her much hope , I wish there was more help out there for people with this monster of a desease. Il pray for you and her . You have a beautiful talented and caring family , God Bless you.

  40. Angie Thomas

    August 1, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    my heart was with you when you did your show featuring your mama. My mom passed away 1 year ago, and keeping her dignity intact was a tough one. Especially when she realized she had to give up her apartment, and was dependent on everyone. Your mother has been a strong, active, vibrant woman and it will be even harder for her to accept help. You just help as you can, and as she will let you. But, the day will come when you will have to step in and take control, and that will be a difficult day. Because then you consider her safety, and not her wishes. You do everything with love, and it will hurt because you knew your mother at a better time in her life. I will pray for you and your family. Let everyone help as they want even if it’s to read to your Mama, or just follow her around. Love you, Buddy.

  41. Robbie

    September 27, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    Dear Buddy,

    The last word I received was the show with her 65th Birthday. I was thrilled that her Brother in Florida located information of a doctor overseas that had a
    new procedure that involved her Brothers and Sisters. How is she doing now ?
    Please let your fans know when you can; they all really care about her and the
    Family. I have noticed her new husband seems like a very nice person; he always seems to be there but in the background. I really respect the fact that he
    loves your Mom but totally respects your Dad’s Memory and never trys to be in
    front . I know it makes you feel good to know he is there fro your Mom.

    We are all praying for her and your entire Family ! God Bless You

  42. Joan Craft

    February 27, 2016 at 6:11 pm

    Dear Cake Boss & family, this is from my family to your’s, we love your family, show and we love, love, love your little mother, we will continue to pray for her and your family that she does well. We are an African American Family that cares about your family, and believes in prayer. Sincerely,

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