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The Psychology of Beating an Incurable Illness | Bob Cafaro | TEDxCharlottesville

January 26, 2020

Translator: David Goldovt-Ryzhenkov
Reviewer: Tanya Cushman In December of 1998,
after just having turned 40 years old, I started experiencing
a strange numbness in my right leg, and I didn’t think much of it. Until about a week later,
I was at a rehearsal, and I stepped off the riser
onto the stage, and my right leg collapsed from under me. At this point, I saw two doctors, and they both thought
it’s probably just a pinched nerve. Nothing to worry about. Good. Two months later, I started to lose
peripheral vision in my left eye, which was now a worrisome situation, and I saw my very first neurologist, and he examined me and said,
“You have MS,” and I didn’t want to hear this. My only knowledge of multiple sclerosis was the great British cellist
Jacqueline du Pré, who was forced to stop playing
at the age of 26 and later died from complications
of the disease at 42. So you could imagine, a professional cellist being told
I have this debilitating disease. Denial was a river in Egypt. (Laughter) I was not willing to accept this, and then four months later, I started losing peripheral
vision in my right eye, which was really scary because my left eye
had never recovered completely. In about one week after that, I came down
with what I thought was a stomach bug, but it didn’t go away. It turned out to be a prolonged period
of something like motion sickness. I wound up vomiting. Couldn’t keep food
or water down for a week, and I wound up in the hospital
for severe dehydration. I was released from the hospital
four days later, and I was unable to move my hands. I could no longer play the cello. I could hardly walk. I was incontinent. My entire body felt like
I was receiving electrical current. I was hearing helicopters all the time, and I saw my neuro-ophthalmologist, whom I had been seeing
for the previous six months, and he gave me a basic vision test, and I was unable to see
even the largest letters on the chart, and he proceeded then
with the visual field test where you’re given a clicker and you click every time
you see a light flash in the periphery. I sat there completely frozen.
Not one click; I couldn’t see a thing. He changed to the other eye.
I sat there; once again, no clicking. He stopped the test, and he said
the words I’ll never forget: “I’ll write you a note
for permanent disability.” Whoa. This was just insane. I don’t know what happened at this point,
but something went through me, and I told him “You can take that note
and you can use it as a suppository,” (Laughter) because I’m going
back to work in six weeks when the orchestra season starts. (Applause) I said, “I’m going back to work in six weeks
when the orchestra season starts.” And he said, “How
are you going to do that?” He didn’t believe
it was possible, but I did. So what do I do? I have this – I’m completely taken out, my central nervous system is up in smoke. I can’t do anything. There’s a story of a tractor trailer
that gets stuck under an overpass. Structural engineers
are brought to the scene. How do they raise the overpass? Dig grooves into the pavement
under the wheels? A six-year-old boy comes along
on his bicycle and says, “Hey Mister! Why don’t you
just let the air out of the tires?” (Laughter) So, we were all six years old once, but we lose that over time
and with education. So I said to that six-year-old boy
inside me, “I need your help. You’ve got to show me how to let the air
out of the tires of this disease.” So, together, we started
looking for obvious things that were overlooked by the experts, and the first thing I found
was the “water cure.” I started drinking half my body weight
in ounces of water a day. I noticed my first signs of improvement. I looked at other things. I looked at MS rates around the world and noticed that your very poorest nations have rates of MS that are about one-third of your wealthy,
affluent, industrialized nations. I looked at Japan, having been there, with its environmental
and overcrowding issues – very low rates of MS. I saw the Okinawa Centenarian study: over 900 people that were looked at over the age of 100 and in perfect health. So I began to believe
that our wealthy, lavish lifestyle has some link with higher rates
of multiple sclerosis. I also looked at something called
“the placebo effect.” And this is where
the six-year-old boy helped. If you look at clinical trials, where you get people who inexplicably
improve in the placebo group, it’s written off as an anomaly
by the experts. The six-year-old boy said,
“Something is happening here.” So I started learning the placebo effect by meditating two 30-minute sessions a day that the MS was going into remission
and leaving my body completely. One of the other things –
I used experiences all through my life, and I was once on a backpacking trip, not far from here
in Shenandoah National Park, and after three days in the woods,
I came out at a visitor’s center, and I saw a big sign
with a beautiful picture of a deer, and it said, “Do not feed the deer. When you feed a deer human food,
such as chips and candy, you reduce its lifespan by 30%. So, I’m thinking, (Laughter) I’m going to be as healthy as this deer, so I basically adopted the deer’s diet. A deer drinks water, eats vegetation,
probably some insects – I passed on that one but … (Laughter) Another thing I started to do was I looked at people
who accomplished the impossible. How do they do this? Your most basic example is in 1954, the first person to run a mile
in under four minutes was Roger Bannister. Prior to that, people said, “It’s impossible!
Human body can never do it.” He does it. It’s now an achievable goal. The baseball pitcher Nolan Ryan, who threw his 7th no-hitter
at the age of 44, and in that game, throwing the ball
96 miles per hour. He staved off the aging process
of the human body for 25 years. So I’ve adopted his lifestyle: every
morning I begin with yoga, stretching, weight lifting, you name it, cycling. I live a very disciplined lifestyle. In 2013, I had the privilege of meeting someone
who accomplished the impossible, and that was Nando Parrado, who survived the famous plane crash
in 1972 in the Andes mountains. And when the plane crashed in the winter,
high up in the mountains, Nando was thrown from row nine
into the bulkhead. His skull was fractured in four places. He was given up for dead and placed
in the cold with the bodies. Three days later, he awoke from a coma, and 72 days after the crash, Nando showed up
in the foothills and got help. This man has gone 37 1/2 miles through one of the most difficult
mountain ranges in the world in the winter. He had never seen snow,
he had no survival training, no gloves, no boots,
no equipment and no food. His only source of food was the people
who had perished in the crash. Mountain climbing teams
that reconstructed his route said what this man did was not possible. So I met him, and I said to him, “I always wanted to meet you
and thank you because you were one of my guides when I was finished. I’m not supposed to be here.” And he said, “I’m not supposed to be here either.” And when this giant gave me a hug,
something went through me. I felt like for the first time I had cured
myself of this incurable disease. And I went back to my neurologist, whom I hadn’t seen for 11 years, and he did a complete series of MRIs again
on my brain and spinal chord. In 1999, my brain
had over 50 active lesions, and my spinal chord had one
that was 3 1/2 centimeters in length. And I worked so hard at my recovery, and true to my word, I went back to work in six weeks
when the orchestra season started. Wasn’t easy, but I kept going,
never missed work. I missed five weeks of work
that year when I was hospitalized. So in 2013, I had
a complete series of MRIs done. When my neurologist looked
at the results, he said to me, “You did the impossible.” Because there were no more lesions and no traces of the disease
anymore, whatsoever. So, I was so taken out in 1999, but I worked hard,
and everything came back. I got the use of my legs back,
I got the use of my eyesight back, I now make it to the bathroom
when I need to go. I don’t hear helicopters anymore, and I don’t feel like I’m receiving
electrical current anymore, but the most important thing,
I’ve gotten the use of my hands back. (Applause) (Cello music) (Music: “Danny Boy”) (Music ends) (Applause)


  • Reply German Boy December 20, 2019 at 9:46 am

    Can't wait for the day I don't have this human body to lug around..

  • Reply Justin Covert December 20, 2019 at 6:51 pm

    Can I get a joe dispenza?

  • Reply Danny Kay December 21, 2019 at 6:54 pm

    Sir – that revelation you had and implemented – good stuff. When ya can, plzzz check out Dr Joel Wallach – he reverses that stuff and many other diseases thru diet and supps.

  • Reply revolt 07 December 23, 2019 at 9:31 am

    White people needs to stay away from cello

  • Reply ioe wells December 23, 2019 at 10:28 am

    There is a Marine saying, I don't remember the first part but the end is "the impossible just takes a little longer:

  • Reply nanda singh December 23, 2019 at 12:35 pm

    Bob Cafaro! Humanity salutes you!

  • Reply Deborah Goodman December 25, 2019 at 12:48 am

    healing comes from within, and we all have the power to go there. Persistence and patience is worth your life, your health. Nothing from the outside can heal you completely.

  • Reply Steve Kirkbride December 25, 2019 at 4:46 pm

    Thank you Bob

  • Reply catherine martina December 27, 2019 at 12:17 am


  • Reply Alyson Lumenello December 27, 2019 at 11:53 pm

    We have the illness it does not own us… its a devastating disease. Thank you for your inspiration.

  • Reply leuqar ztliw December 29, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    Good my friend๐Ÿ˜€

  • Reply Free Guitar Lessons Channel By Mike December 30, 2019 at 4:15 am

    Dr Majid Ali MD says people with MS have great grief in their lives

  • Reply Kelly crowder December 30, 2019 at 4:19 am

    That music is mystical, moving, beautiful, heavenly, and i so appreciate it to the core. Thank you for changing my DNA in a beautiful way. ๐Ÿ˜‡Lol. Really though you have an amazing gift among many others. Thank you for sharing. God bless.

  • Reply Wayne T December 30, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    Very inspiring on the human spirit.

  • Reply Ketty Manno December 30, 2019 at 10:50 pm

    Inspiring. We have more control of our heath than we know it so we all need to find ways to heal and restore our souls and bodies daily, one day and moment at a time.His concert was a redemption of hope.

  • Reply scott b December 31, 2019 at 1:32 am

    I hear helicopters all the time. Of course I do live in an area frequented by the police helicopters.

  • Reply daimler doublesix December 31, 2019 at 4:10 am

    This man does not know that Japan is more wealthy and light years ahead in technology of where you live. Wherever it could be.

  • Reply tehilovely December 31, 2019 at 10:18 am

    God bless you๐Ÿ’›

  • Reply Ellen Weiss December 31, 2019 at 6:36 pm


  • Reply Karl Pearson January 1, 2020 at 7:38 pm

    This is very inspirational. My wife, with multiple health problems (diabetes, asthma, celiac disease, severe eczema, severe histamine intolerance, collagenous colitis) is the best researcher I know. She's discovered ways to cure MS, too. This is important to us because we have 3 children with MS (of 7 total). What we've learned is there are 4 types of MS. Our 2 sons with it have the same type, which I think is the most common. Our eldest daughter has a very rare kind. It's frustrating, however, that each of the 3 are still in the invincible mode, though 2 of them are ~40. They aren't listening to their mother, who really does know best…

  • Reply Jazzy15 January 2, 2020 at 1:09 am

    God bless, this was an inspiration story for those of use going through medical threatening diagnosis's

  • Reply Patsy Porter January 3, 2020 at 11:29 am

    very moving and much gratitude to you for sharing this for us in some trouble x

  • Reply David Rowley January 4, 2020 at 3:11 am

    I will pray. If you know the Lord Jesus, you can look to him. He will comfort you and help you find purpose in life. God bless.

  • Reply Doug Billman January 4, 2020 at 1:56 pm


  • Reply Sincerely JERRY January 6, 2020 at 1:57 pm

    Thank you

  • Reply Harold Hart January 7, 2020 at 5:15 am


  • Reply Sally Bowles January 8, 2020 at 2:18 am

    Wahls protocol, everyone

  • Reply Sally Bowles January 8, 2020 at 2:19 am

    this guy is crazy, the good, excellent kind of crazy

  • Reply Helen Cheadle January 9, 2020 at 1:07 am

    Beautiful…and so inspiring…so glad things have improved and made better. His playing was very moving too. Thankyou ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿปโค๏ธ

  • Reply Paul Russell January 9, 2020 at 6:55 pm


  • Reply AngelMom215 January 12, 2020 at 7:32 pm

    What was the helicopter noise.. Tinnitus?
    You are a true inspiration

  • Reply Dana Shannon January 14, 2020 at 2:27 pm

    How are you now?

  • Reply Dana Shannon January 14, 2020 at 2:27 pm

    wow that mountain man story is crazy

  • Reply Bruce On Spruce January 15, 2020 at 2:10 pm


  • Reply PJ JP January 16, 2020 at 6:43 am

    Amazing Story! Love the power of Will!

  • Reply 7Trident3 January 18, 2020 at 1:54 pm

    One of his first symptoms the upset stomach and vomiting, is the clue to the cause of MS. Gut bacteria dysbiosis, basically one or more strains of bacteria in your tummy have been decimated by broad spectrum antibiotics, or some other exposure. I bumped into this tidbit while researching my own health issue, and performing a procedure called FMT. I have since joined a FB group for FMT. Conclusion. Mind has been blown!!! Not to minimize your plight, but MS is just the tip of the iceberg. Autism, Irritable bowl, now Alzheimerโ€™s is connected to gum bacteria, that ends up where? Please do not take my word for this, google it hard! Join the FMT FB group. When we have the right data, and lots of smart money is chasing it now. Auto immune will be on the ropes!

  • Reply Eve G January 18, 2020 at 7:17 pm


  • Reply sue walker January 19, 2020 at 12:17 am

    Beautiful Story. I believe the title of that song was one of a religious nature, entitled, "HE (GOD) LOOKED BEYOND MY FAULT AND SAW MY NEED". If you have never heard this song and the lyrics, look it up on you-tube and/or Google it. The melody is the same!

  • Reply Thumb Print January 19, 2020 at 12:11 pm

    Thanks for the upload, an inspiring talk and lovely rendition of Danny Boy.

  • Reply Jamil Akhtar January 22, 2020 at 2:30 am

    Very encouraging story for every one who is suffering from chronic disease. Thank you very much for sharing your amazing story.

  • Reply L Laman January 25, 2020 at 5:08 am

    This was a blessing ! God Bless this man and all who watch this wonderful video ! Beautiful Music ! Just Beautiful Irish Music ! Love Love Love !

  • Reply Alexandra Estrella January 25, 2020 at 7:32 pm

    Youโ€™re inspiring. Thank you ๐Ÿ˜Š

  • Reply Rose Hernandez January 26, 2020 at 3:21 am

    Itโ€™s like the titanic movie when he plays the violin ๐ŸŽป ๐Ÿ™

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