By Ryan Masters
Walk into John Pecoraro’s Scotts Valley home and the first thing you notice are the framed posters on the wall; dozens of original Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd and Rolling Stones concert posters dating back to the 1960s.
“I’ve been pretty lucky,” Pecoraro said. “I’ve traveled the world and seen the beauty of the earth; I’ve heard a lot of amazing music; I have a great support family.”
Pecoraro, 45, strains to say this. He suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the progressive neurodegenerative disease more commonly known as ALS, and Lyme disease, a poorly understood illness transmitted to humans through the bite of infected ticks.
Diagnosed in September 2014, Pecoraro has spent the past 18 months researching the diseases, experimenting with both traditional and alternative treatments and raising awareness about ALS and a potential link to Lyme disease.
While he admits the connection is controversial in traditional medical circles, he cites the research of Dr. Martin Atkinson-Barr, which found Lyme disease present in all 150 patients tested in a study between 1999 to 2001.
“The bottom line is nobody knows for certain and more research needs to be done,” Pecoraro said.
Last month, Pecoraro met with former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential front runner Hillary Clinton in Atherton to share his story and request more support for this research. The meeting was arranged by Dream Foundation, the only national dream-granting organization for terminally ill adults.
“Most people ask to go on a trip somewhere or jump out of an airplane or whatever. I’ve done all of that. I’d rather bring awareness,” Pecoraro said. “It’s important people understand how devastating a disease ALS is. There is no treatment, no cure. There’s nothing anyone can do to help you at all. You’re on your own.”
Pecoraro said he is lucky because, after a long career in marketing and sales in the Silicon Valley, he has the resources to hire help and experiment with expensive treatments, including traditional antibiotics, stem cell and IV therapies, and a three-part treatment for Lyme disease called the PK Protocol. He even had a European ozone sauna called a Hocatt installed in his house, one of only two units currently in California.
“Most people get the bad news from their doctor, go home and wait. I went a different course,” Pecoraro said. “Why not try? Maybe I can help people in the future.”
During his time with Clinton, Pecoraro stressed how much he’d like the government to contribute more money to research and development to help find a cure for ALS.
“She was really receptive. She understands that more needs to be done and she pledged this was a priority,” Pecoraro said.
Pecoraro is quick to point out that his goal in meeting with Clinton was not about politics, only about saving lives. He initially asked to meet with President Barack Obama, but the commander-in-chief’s schedule wouldn’t allow for it.
“Why wouldn’t I meet with Clinton? I’m dying. What was I going to do, say no?” Pecoraro laughed.
Dream Foundation fulfills approximately 2,500 dreams a year, according to CEO Kisa Heyer. It’s granted nearly 25,000 in its 22-year history and, in all that time, no one has ever been turned away.
“We’ve had similar requests in the past, but what impresses me about John is his level of selflessness and commitment,” Heyer said.
Pecoraro is currently starting a foundation to help those who lack financial resources and provide them with a chance to try alternative therapies.
About the Author
Ryan Masters is an award-winning journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on both sides of the Monterey Bay. His primary beats at the Santa Cruz Sentinel include South County and higher education. Reach the author at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow Ryan on Twitter: @RyanMasters831.
This article was first published at Santa Cruz Sentinel.