UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WFXV) – First diagnosed with ILD in 2005 when he was 53, John Salamone Junior has been fighting against this disease with persistence and optimism. Now working as a Scleroderma ambassador, he talked to patients with similar lung diseases to help them keep their heads up while preventing further development.

“I just tell them, don’t fear it. Face it but don’t fear it. Scleroderma is scary but don’t let it scare you. I started educating myself on Scleroderma. And that’s what keeps me motivated. Because it is very complex,” said Salamone.

After several surgeries and treatment, Scleroderma devastated his lung, heart, and digestive system. The hardening of the skin prevented him from playing the guitar and directing theaters. He was forced to stay in while suffering from joint and muscle pain, digestive issues, swollen hands, and narrowing of blood vessels.

He described it as a long journey that deteriorates fast initially but gradually slows down as time passes by. Now, enjoying his life at the age of 70, Salamone has found his way to live with Scleroderma.

““You know it is still progressing. Sometimes it knocks me right down. But I found a way to keep moving forward. Now moving forward means to me that I am going to grab that water and then I am moving forward to my chair and probably take a nap. And when I wake up I will go get pizza so it’s a day-by-day thing,” he said.