Bob Cafaro on Beating MS: PYP 153

bob-cafaroBob Cafaro was enjoying a successful career as a professional cellist with the Philadelphia Orchestra when he was struck with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in December, 1998. After some serious denial and three increasingly nasty attacks, he was forced to confront the reality and severity of his diagnosis.

With Bob's eyesight worsening to the point of blindness and his hands unable to control the cello, it was only natural for his doctor to write him a note for permanent disability. And slip him a script for an antidepressant to help him cope with the loss of his profession, his livelihood, his passion, and his independent existence.

Bob pocketed but never filled the prescription for Prozac, and told the doctor to shove the disability letter up his – well, to use it as a suppository. And proclaimed that he'd be back in the orchestra in six weeks. And that he was going to beat MS.

Against all odds, Bob began a 24/7 (actually, he calls it a “25/8”) regimen to overcome the disease. In 2013, after being symptom free for a decade, he submitted to MRIs that confirmed that all 53 brain lesions and several spinal lesions were gone.

Completely. Fully. Entirely.

Bob was so free from MS, many started doubting the original diagnosis (which had been confirmed by five separate neurologists via symptoms and MRIs).

In 2015, Bob published his story in a book titled When the Music Stopped: My Battle and Victory Against MS. My friend Dominic Marro emailed me a review he had written about the book, and I contacted Bob and asked if he would share his story on the podcast.

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He agreed, and we had a conversation that still has me vibrating with inspiration (and makes me wish I could play the cello ;).

In our Skype conversation, which we recorded in video as well as audio, we covered:

  • Bob's early symptoms of MS
  • his initial hopeful prognosis of “a very manageable disease”
  • researching MS treatments on a 21-inch monitor with enlarged font so he could read the words
  • discovering and implementing Dr. Batmanghelidj's Water Cure (and learning how to hold 64 ounces of water in his bladder during the first 75 minutes of orchestra practice
  • the impact of losing the use of his hands and eyes
  • how Bob started exercising relentlessly when advised against it, and why
  • lifestyle lessons from Japan and Okinawa, where MS rates are much lower than in the US
  • discovering the placebo effect (“why do 18% of men in the placebo group in the Rogaine trials start regrowing their hair?”) and using it to his advantage
  • lessons from yoga
  • Bob's panoply of inspirational examples, including some unlikely characters
  • growing stronger through adversity (beatings, asthma, tendonitis, and eventually MS)
  • using conventional drug treatments in addition to the “alternative” measures
  • “finding the 3am weakness” of MS, and other advice from the US Army Survival Manual
  • meeting the hero of Alive and inspiring him right back
  • his daily rituals these days (“I don't even know if my TV works”)
  • and much more…

Enjoy, add your voice to the conversation via the comment box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.

Links (for more from Bob and to get a signed copy of When the Music Stopped

When the Music Stopped digital download on

Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors, by Piers Paul Read

Water for Health, for Healing, for Life: You're Not Sick, You're Thirsty, by Dr F. Batmanghelidj

The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga, by Swami Vishnu-devananda

The Proteinaholic Debate:

Denise Minger's critique of Proteinaholic

Dr. Garth Davis's (and my) response

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Thanks to the old guys who took it easy on me during tennis table in Saxapahaw last night, and to podcast patrons

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Check out my online TV show, Triangle Be Well. This week I talk with Silvana Rangel-Duque about her mission to get NC Triangle residents eating fresh, whole, unprocessed, and delicious meals.

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13 Responses to “Bob Cafaro on Beating MS: PYP 153”

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  1. Laura Stanasila says:

    I am more than half way through the book and frustrated he doesn’t explain more about his diet. The name of dr Swank is never cited, although his patients were practically cured of their MS (asymptomatic for 40 years) on an anti-inflammatory diet (exempt of saturated fat). Could it be that his diet change was enough to stop and even reverse the disease?

    • Howard says:

      Chapter 30 includes Bob’s step-by-step regimen, including diet. I thought he had mentioned Roy Swank somewhere in there, but I could be mistaken. The thing about case studies and best practice surveys is that we can’t know the one thing or few things that were necessary and sufficient.

      One message I heard loud and clear is that Bob’s MS turned into an invitation for him to live a bigger, bolder life than he otherwise would have. So the exercising and mental training and inspirational reading may not have been necessary to defeat MS, but defeating MS wasn’t ultimately the point.

      Make sense?

  2. Thank You says:


    What a great story, love podcasts like these. Would just caution about drinking too much water, at on time or throughout the day. As this can be just as bad as not drinking enough water.

    Thank You for another informative podcast; keep them coming.

  3. Selma says:

    There is another book of someone who beat MS a long time ago-last I heard she was still alive and well in her 80’s . This is her son’s revised version. I like her original version better if you can find one used.

  4. Selma says:

    Great interivew. I’m wondering about Bob’s spiritual life? What role it played. How he grew. How he changed. I bought the book so maybe I’ll find out? Wondering about synchronicity /any amazing spiritual events/understanding?

  5. Selma says:

    Wondering if drinking loads of water would be hard on the kidneys? Have there been any studies? Or deplete minerals?

    • Jacqueline Corbett says:

      No. It does just the opposite. To understand why, I recommend this 3 hour video by Dr. Batmanghelidj:

      In it Dr. B says that chronic unintentional dehydration is the ROOT CAUSE of ALL disease including cancer.

      After some personal experimentation with this protocol, I would have to agree. There’s a recent scientific agreement with this assertion in Dr. Zach Bush’s interview:

  6. Deborah Burghardt says:

    His story is thought-provoking and inspiring and you are one excellent interviewer. Thank you for facilitating his sharing of much this needed information in an hour. My mother died of MS complications at 47, my sister the same at 41 and now my daughter is fighting for her life against MS.

    • Howard says:

      Deborah, my heart goes out to you and your family. If you’re looking for more resources, check out Dr Saray Stancic, a lifestyle medicine physician with MS who has been lesion- and disability-free since 2003:

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