LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A teen and his mother were faced with a difficult diagnosis and a tough decision. It is a story of perseverance, hope, and an unwavering bond.
“I always like to look at it as half full,” Tylor Lopez said.
They are heartening words from a 14-year-old, who just like other teens has braces, loves video games, and has high aspirations for his future.
“I see myself working as a forensic pathologist.”
However, Tylor is more than just your average teen. He’s also the sole caregiver to his mom Alison.
They are not just mother and son. They are also teammates and friends.
The bond that these two share is unique, and certainly something many adults might find challenging. For Tylor and Alison, it is their strength together that gives them the motivation to move forward.
“From day one she is such a strong, brave woman,” Tylor said. “She’s absolutely incredible.”
Alison has multiple sclerosis.
“I was told within 6 months I would need to accept that I would be in a wheelchair drooling somewhere,” Alison explained. “I wasn’t willing to accept that as a diagnosis.”
She said she ignored early signs, such as vision disturbances and limb weakness, for years as the product of being a busy working mom and caring for others as a flight medic.
“To have those roles reversed and have to ask for help is a very humbling experience,” Alison said.
She said it was a gradual process of change, but one that forced some complex decisions most children don’t have to face.
“We just had to have really honest and in-depth conversations about where we were,” Alison explained. “What he was willing to shoulder as a responsibility, and what I was willing to allow him to shoulder because he still needs to be a kid.”
“Tyler is the youngest primary caregiver to any of my patients,” said Doctor Carrie Hersh. “He has a maturity level that goes well beyond his years.”
Doctor Carrie Hersh is the program director for health and wellness at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. She’s also an Associate Professor of Neurology at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University.
Alison and Tylor travel to the center from their home outside Albuquerque for its comprehensive MS program.
“The overall goal of our treatment is to slow down the progression of the disease while also making sure that we pay particular attention to their safety, their quality of life, and their function at home,” Dr. Hersh said.
From disease-modifying therapies to educational programs and support groups, Alison said it’s been pivotal in her development.
“Physically I am so much better than I ever thought I would be,” Alison said.
The Lou Ruvo Center also provides for caregivers.
“The Cleveland Clinic has really treated me like family and really taken me in,” Tylor explained. “Taking care of my own mental health before I can take care of her.”
The experience has created an unshakable bond between this mother and son team, rooting for each other and following their own set of rules.
“I never knew it was possible to love somebody even more than I already did,” Alison said.
Good Day Las Vegas Anchor Heather Mills asked Alison where she sees herself in five or ten years.
She said happy, healthy, and spreading awareness. That’s their big goal: to help others to get diagnosed early so they can begin treatment right away and to celebrate and recognize caregivers like Tylor.
There are currently 20 different medications on the market to treat multiple sclerosis.
The Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health has been part of the launch of five of these disease-modifying therapies in the last eight years.
In fact, the clinic has several ongoing studies and participants are needed. If you’d like to learn more or register, visit this link.