MONONA (WKOW) -- Brian Carless is in what should be the prime of his life: he's 42 years old, a successful salesman, married, with two young kids.
Instead, he's facing the twilight of life. Two years ago, he was among the estimated 5,600 people diagnosed with amyotrphic lateral sclerosis; a diagnosis that's a death sentence, with the average ALS patient living only two to five years after diagnosis.
"Even though I sort of suspected it for a long time, when you finally do get the diagnosis, it was very disorienting," recalls Brian.
"You have to think about, what about in two months if he's not there?" notes his wife, Melissa.
Brian and his wife, Melissa, didn't waste time in their effort to get ahead of the disease. Facing the probability of him being in a wheelchair, they remodeled their home accordingly, with ramps and a new bathroom with a roll-in shower.
ALS makes its victims progressively weaker, attacking nerve cells and pathways in the brain and spinal cord. It eventually robs patients of all muscle control, including the ability to breathe.
But the disease seems to be progressing slower in Brian.
There is no cure, no proven treatments for the disease itself. Research holds hope, and Brian has participated in some studies himself.
"It's not often that we get the chance to help relieve the suffering of others. Because some day, even if my research proved to be the misstep and not the effective treatment, it will still help lead the way to those treatments."