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In Memory of Dr. Hector Lopez



 

Hector was one of the biggest influences on my life.


I met Doc at the Arnold Classic expo in 2014 when a mutual colleague introduced him to me. I knew almost instantly how profound he was.


We chatted about the state of the industry and ingredient innovation. If you know Hector, this was quite the rabbit hole. I had mentioned to him that I wished I could find an economically viable supplier for theacrine. He looked at me in disbelief and asked, “how do you know about theacrine?!” and then informed me that TeaCrine®, his branded version of theacrine, would be hitting market in the next six months.


He had, as a colleague of mine put it yesterday, a ‘quiet professionalism’ about him. Always dressed “to the 9’s” with a sport coat and pocket square. He knew how to have the right level of seriousness but was never overbearing. He owned his accolades but wanted you to be a part of them.


One of the things that I idolized about him (besides the myriad of qualities highlighted in the sea of similar social media posts) was his stoicism. He was always seemingly unflappable. It didn’t matter how difficult the situation was. He just rolled with the punches or immediately and calmly had the solution. He never seemed to be phased.


As I grew to know Hec on a more personal level, I learned that we had many common interests. He loved MMA, outdoors (he was quite the compound bow shot), and a high-quality bourbon (Calumet Farms 15-Year). But one thing we shared deeply was our belief in family. Every time he spoke of his wife, Yari, or his two daughters, you would have thought none of his accolades mattered. He held them at the highest regard and everything he did was for them.


One of the first times he seemed “human” was when he told me all that was going on with Yari’s health issues. He was scared, but that unflappable, unwavering calmness took over and he was determined to find a solution for her. She had triple-negative breast cancer and wasn’t responding to treatment. Through his knowledge and research, he had put her on an aggressive 30+ supplement regimen to get her body to respond to treatment. It worked. She’s been in remission since.


The second time I saw this side of him was March of this year. He had mentioned to me that something was going on with his liver and he was to have a battery of tests to understand what was going on. At our visit with one of our manufacturing facilities, he had to take a call with his doctor to discuss his results. He was sitting in the conference room that was all glass, by himself. I saw him tearing up. When he was finished with the call, he waved me in and told me everything in detail. He feared the unknown and was the first time that I experienced him not having an answer. It was very noticeable that he was distraught. He asked for my discretion and told me that I was 1 of 3 people outside of his family that knew his situation at that time.


Over the coming months, he would get his abdomen drained weekly, going from 155lbs post-drain on a Tuesday, to over 180lbs by Saturday. This was going on at our Lifeforce in-person trip, and he had received treatment while he was in California. By this point, him and his team of doctors had deduced the likely cause to be Post-Infectious Autoimmune Lymphocytic Granulomatous Liver Disease. His treatment protocol was starting to work but was taking much longer than he anticipated. He was at a crossroad and was deciding on what was the next steps. His options were liver transplant, or a transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) operation. The former was unlikely to happen for a long time, and the latter posed a few risks including cardiac arrest due to excessive blood flow to the heart. He was nervous of the TIPS operation due to the risks. He couldn’t live the way that he was, and his quality of life had severely deteriorated. This led him to making the decision to go through with the procedure.


What I can say is Hector was truly one-in-a-million. He was the most intelligent person in the room but tried to make everyone feel equal. He was a loving, devoted husband and father, and cared about his family deeply. A brilliant intellect and industry innovator, he carried a Michael Jordan-esque philosophy in business of “on to the next one” – an unsatiable appetite for elevating an entire industry, if you will. Hell, the last communication I received from him was about a project we were both working on the night before he passed. His work ethic was unmatched. Doc was calm, cool, and collected. He made the room brighter the moment he walked in. I am truly fortunate to have been so close to such an incredible and influential human being. Your legacy will live on through all you have touched, Hec, I assure you of that. Thank you for the amazing gifts you have given this world and I hope you may rest at ease.


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