That's because he lived life to the fullest working as a lawyer based out of Marcellus, as the town justice in Spafford, and he was an avid golfer, skier and pilot. Even since taking ill, he has been on at least one extensive travel vacation a year (including touring on the Queen Mary and cruising to Bermuda) and treks regularly to concerts featuring his favorite musicians such as James Taylor.
ALS causes the progressive death of the motor nerve cells that operate muscles, robbing the brain of its ability to initiate and control movement. Approximately 30,000 Americans have the disease, for which there is no cure, and can expect to survive on average two to five years from the time of diagnosis unless ventilator support is chosen.
How did it come on?
He was diagnosed at 47, and said ALS probably started three or four years before. He's now 57.
"I just thought I was getting old," he said about that time in life when aches and pains creep into everyday existence.
"When you can't move like you once could, like those first couple of steps out of the block trying to cross a busy street become hesitant," he added.
But it was ski racing where it really surfaced and what ticks Yuhas off, is that he had finally decided to really get in shape, and for the first time had spent perhaps seven months at the gym before ski season. He was raring to go. Then coming down the slope, he started falling for no apparent reason. His legs, or muscles, seemed to just give out.
He also described why his voice sounds a little odd.
"It's called bulbuar onset - affecting the neck and jaw, voice and also one's tongue muscles," he said.
John's hospital bed is in the center of a sunny yellow room. There is a portrait of the Wiles' Family camp on the wall behind him and a flat screen television on the wall in front of him. There is a sliding glass door opens on to a deck, where Sarah has summer vegetables and herbs growing in pots. Beyond is a gorgeous view of Otisco Lake complete with a steeple on the Eastern Shore. The top of his antique dresser is covered with pill bottles. He sits like Buddha in the midst of tubes and all kinds of machines, a ventilator helping him to draw breath.