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Brooke Lindsay

Brooke Lindsay
Posted on: 01/27/2022

Take me to St. Mark’s Hospital:

I felt like I was my brain surgeon’s only patient

Brooke Lindsay soaked up too much sun during her Maui vacation. With skin stinging and burnt, she decided to take a shower to clean up and cool off. In the process, she passed out and collapsed to the shower floor.

“Everyone thought it was heat stroke, but afterward I kept getting bad headaches on my right side,” Brooke said. “My mom told me I needed to go to a doctor, so I went to an appointment. The doctor wanted to see if my fall caused any bleeding, so he ordered imaging … that’s when he referred me to a neurosurgeon.”

Dr. James Pingree, neurosurgeon at St. Mark’s Hospital diagnosed Brooke with a pilocytic astrocytoma, a central nervous system tumor typically identified in young children. The slow-growing mass formed at the back of her cerebellum. In fact, Dr. Pingree said it may have been growing there for the past three to five years. Currently, the tumor measured the same size as a quarter.

“On one hand, I was scared, but other hand I really wasn’t because Dr. Pingree made me feel good. He knew he could get that tumor out, and he made me feel so special … Two weeks later, I had brain surgery,” Brooke said.

Compassionate doctor saves the brain, braids the mane

During Brooke’s first surgery, Dr. Pingree took a biopsy of the brain tumor. When Brooke woke, she learned that Dr. Pingree had taken even better care of her than she could have imagined.

“I know this sounds funny, but I was scared about how much hair Dr. Pingree would have to cut off. But Dr. Pingree has a daughter, and so during my surgery he braided my hair and was very careful about how much he cut off. I absolutely fell in love with him for that! I’ll never forget that I had pigtail braids when I came out.”

Dr. Pingree’s compassionate and above-and-beyond care continued to impress and inspire Brooke.

During her second brain surgery, Dr. Pingree removed the benign tumor in its entirety. The complex procedure took approximately 9 hours, and because of the tumor’s location, Dr. Pingree anticipated that Brooke would need to re-learn how to walk and perform other motor skills.

“It was amazing. I was up walking that very night! I think it surprised everyone,” Brooke said. “Then the next day, Dr. Pingree came to the hospital on his day off just to check on me. He came in shorts and flip flops for a personal visit. He’s such a great doctor! He made me feel like I was his only patient.”

Thankful for sunburns and surgery

Brooke underwent an unexpected third brain surgery a few months later, when spinal fluid leakage from the internal surgical site began causing severe nausea and vomiting.

“The back of my head became completely squishy, almost like a baby’s head. I was throwing up constantly. When we called to tell Dr. Pingree’s office, he called me back himself and told me to come right in,” Brooke said.

Dr. Pingree repaired the leak and Brooke began feeling immediately better. Brooke’s three brain surgeries occurred in 2013. Since then, Brooke has had two children (and is expecting a third). She sometimes shows her little ones pictures of what Mommy went through, and she even created a book to memorialize the successful journey.

“Someday they’ll realize what a big deal this was …” Brooke said. “I’m grateful that everything happened the way it did. If I wouldn’t have passed out from getting sunburned, who knows, the tumor could have grown and really hurt me. And I’m grateful I picked St. Mark’s Hospital because everyone there was very helpful and treated me so good. I’ve been tumor free ever since! That’s why I say, ‘Take me to St. Mark’s Hospital!’”

To learn more about Wasatch Neurosurgery and Spine Associates, visit us online or call (801) 261-8507.

Brooke Lindsay
Posted on: 01/27/2022

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