Chordoma survivor: How a spine tumor changed my perspective

My life changed forever on the morning of Nov. 6, 2016. I’d felt some pain in my lower back, and decided to go to the emergency room at the hospital where I work as a nurse manager. I thought I would get some fluids for hydration and be sent back home to my husband and two babies. But God had different plans for me.  Instead of fluids, I had CT and MRI scans of my spine. When the ER physician said, “Ms. Mesa, you have a lesion at L2,” I knew immediately that tumor on my spine was cancer. I could see it all over his face. Why I chose MD Anderson In that moment, my husband, mom, dad and I shared a look. We knew we would go straight to MD Anderson. For us, there was no option other than the best cancer hospital. MD Anderson has an exceptional reputation and outcomes, so I didn’t mind making the five-hour drive from my home in Louisiana. I knew it was the right decision, because from the first time I walked through the doors, I was treated like the most important person in the world. In MD Anderson’s Brain and Spine Center, I met my superheroes: neurosurgeon Dr. Laurence Rhines and Laurel Westcarth, his nurse practitioner. They treated me like my life mattered more than anything else.  My chordoma After additional testing at MD Anderson, I learned my spine tumor was a chordoma, a very rare type of bone cancer. Thankfully, Dr. Rhines and his team sat with me and answered every question I had. They didn’t rush me, and...