This is Living: The Cody Nessmith Story

How a rare, terminal cancer diagnosis couldn’t keep Cody Nessmith from the
2019 Ariat World Series of Team Roping Finale.

This is Living: The Cody Nessmith Story - How a rare, terminal cancer diagnosis couldn't keep Cody Nessmith from the 2019 Ariat World Series of Team Roping

Photo by Jennings Photography

Courtesy of Team Roping Journal | KAITLIN GUSTAVE

Cody Nessmith really never should have backed into the box at the 2019 Ariat World Series of Team Roping Finale, if you’d have asked his doctors.

The quiet, unassuming 23-year-old, from Hineston, Louisiana, has roped all of his life. In 2014, he won the #10 Preliminary at the USTRC’s Cinch National Finals of Team Roping, and he’s a regular at jackpots across the Southeast. But now Cody is battling Ewing’s Sarcoma, a bone cancer mainly found in children. The disease is brutal—one that caused tumor on his spine, nearly taking away his ability to walk just a year ago. But with the expertise of a team of doctors at St. Jude’s Childrens Hospital, the friendship of six-time NFR header Colby Lovell and a supportive family, Cody is not only back to walking—he got to live his team roping dreams in Las Vegas.

The Accident

This is Living: The Cody Nessmith Story - How a rare, terminal cancer diagnosis couldn't keep Cody Nessmith from the 2019 Ariat World Series of Team Roping

Cody Nessmith resting in the hospital. | Courtesy Kaitlyn Nessmith

Cody was hit by a pressure valve at work, an accident that unknowingly flipped his world upside down.

“It almost killed me,” Cody said. “There was a metal piece that had about 50,000 pounds of pressure on it. It popped off, and the whole thing hit me in the shoulder. If I wouldn’t have stepped over, it would have hit me in the face.”

While Cody was recovering from that accident, nursing his arm and shoulder, he lost feeling in his feet and toes, making it nearly impossible for him to walk. He went to the doctor to get checked out for the complications he was experiencing—complications he assumed were from the accident.

“I went to some hospitals and stuff and then they brought me to a place in Baton Rouge (Louisiana)—a big hospital. They did an MRI and they found a tumor the size of a softball on my spine.”

That tumor was causing the numbness, doctors explained. Before his accident, Cody’s body had been battling the tumor because he’d been healthy his whole life. But after the shoulder injury, his body couldn’t keep up with the demands on his system, the doctors said. They needed to operate, removing the tumor from his spine immediately.

“The day that he had surgery Mom and Dad had stepped out to make some phone calls, and it was just me and him in the emergency room,” Kaitlyn, Cody’s sister, said. “The nurse had came in to ask him some questions and the first thing that he said was, ‘Ma’am, when can I ride a horse again?’ She said, ‘Well, I’m really not sure. There’s a lot of bad things that can happen during the surgery, but we’re going to get you through this to see if you can ride again.’”

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