Spinal cord ependymoma survivor confronts fear

When I was undergoing radiation therapy for my spinal tumor, I took my 12-year-old brother to the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center. He wanted to see the machine and was fascinated by the process. On the drive home, he asked me, “Bubba, what’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?” I had to be honest with him: I told him it was the surgery I’d just gone through and proton therapy. It was really fear of the unknown. With cancer, I wasn’t in control, and I didn’t know what was going to happen. My spinal cord ependymoma diagnosis Let me rewind to where it all started: In October 2016, I flew to New York City for work. When I landed, I had some lower back pain, but I didn’t think anything of it. I went to my hotel, had dinner and went to sleep. Around 4 a.m., I woke up in a cold sweat with excruciating pain. At first, I thought I’d pinched a nerve and that it would go away. After an hour, I was still in pain and went to the ER, where I was diagnosed with a pulled back muscle. Back home a few days later, I went to my primary care physician. An MRI revealed a 4-centimeter mass inside my spinal cord. Everything around me stopped when I got that diagnosis. It felt as if my stomach, heart and mind had dropped out of my body. I immediately thought it was cancer and knew the road ahead was going to be a battle. My first visit to MD Anderson I was raised in Lake Jackson, just...