Lincoln Hildebrand, 17, of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, was diagnosed with a spinal desmoid fibromatosis, with a 50% spinal cord compression, when she was 13. For a high school freshmen speech class, she shared her personal journey at MD Anderson as an assigned persuasive talk on an organization worthy of class donations. The class voted to support MD Anderson and contributed a total of $70. Hildebrand donated the money to her doctor, Justin Bird, M.D., assistant professor, Orthopedic Oncology.
"Before the tumor impacted my daily life, dance was my passion. I always have enjoyed school and been a disciplined student. I was 13 when I started to feel radiating pain around my back, and nothing could control it.
After weeks of pain and discomfort, we went to a doctor and I was diagnosed with a desmoid fibromatosis tumor in my T/6 and t/7 vertebrae. Due to the complexity and rarity of my tumor, my mother got a second opinion at MD Anderson after I had completed two weeks of chemotherapy.
We met with Dr. Justin Bird, who recommended that I continue the year of chemotherapy, saying that surgery would be the last resort. After the 52 weeks of chemotherapy, surgery was imminent. The surgery was successful and Dr. Bird was able to remove the tumor, maintain my mobility and alleviate my pain.
Dr. Bird truly is an exceptional surgeon and human being. I know I wouldn't have the quality of life, or potentially my life at all, if it hadn't been for him and the extraordinary team he assembled. His devotion to his patients and his professionalism have inspired me to be even more dedicated to my studies and to pay forward his dedication of time to others. Dr. Bird's commitment to my care required him to learn a technique that enabled him to remove my tumor in bloc, which only three doctors in the world are trained to do. I know Dr. Bird and his team work tirelessly for their patients, and I am blessed to have them as my medical angels here on earth. I look forward to many more years of dancing and reaching new heights.
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