Local Woman Receives Life-saving Brain Operation After St. Francis Clinician Notices New Symptoms

Mar 8, 2022 | Patient Stories

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At St. Francis Primary Care Clinic in Calhoun, nurse practitioner Cynthia “Sam” Pippins has become like another member of Joy Dickey’s family. In recent years, Pippins has become a trusted medical provider for Dickey, her husband, children, other relatives and even friends.

“She’s so sociable and good at what she does. She treats you like a friend,” Dickey said. “She’s so easy to talk to and always tries to get to the bottom of a situation.”

Because of that relationship, Dickey felt comfortable telling Pippins about the new and unusual headaches she started experiencing in her temples last year. They felt different than the occasional sinus headaches Dickey would have, and over-the-counter medicine wasn’t providing relief.

Immediately, Pippins suspected there might be a problem. She quickly ordered an expedited MRI. The scans revealed that Dickey had a brain tumor and would need surgery as soon as possible.

“I know that Mrs. Joy hardly ever complains, so when she said she was having these headaches that were wearing her out, I knew we had to take a look at it,” Pippins said. “Anytime someone has new onset headaches, especially at her age, you always have to ask questions and find out the reason.”

Once Pippins saw the results of Dickey’s MRI, she knew the news would be life-altering, so she took steps to ease the process. Before meeting with Dickey, Pippins consulted with a local neurosurgeon, who immediately agreed to do the procedure and helped make the necessary arrangements.

“Mrs. Joy came in with her family and I was able to break the news to them,” Pippins said. “By that point, we had already set things up for her to immediately see the neurosurgeon and be admitted for emergency surgery. Everything happened pretty quickly. It was a matter of days, not weeks.”

Dickey described the ordeal as “a good experience in a bad situation.” As a woman of faith, she especially appreciated how Pippins and others on her care team embraced the spiritual side of their work and prayed with her.

“Right before my surgery, I felt a peace come over me and put everything in God’s hands,” she said. “I wasn’t worried about anything.”

After her surgery, Dickey underwent radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Today, she is almost fully recovered and constantly appreciative that Pippins’ attention led to her receiving a life-saving operation.

“For me, it’s a total honor to care for patients,” Pippins said. “I believe that God put me here for a reason and I pray every day that He leads me in the right direction. I’m always grateful for God’s guidance. He gave me that gut feeling with Mrs. Joy that something wasn’t right and to go that extra step and get her that MRI. To me, it was surreal to be a part of something so big. It’s very humbling how things can happen if you trust what God gives you.”

Dickey said the experience has also deepened her family’s bond with Pippins.

“We all trust her and love that we have her so close to us,” Dickey said. “She deserves all of the kudos in the world.”

St. Francis Medical Center has been a constant presence in the Monroe area since July 1913. Today, St. Francis offers a 317-bed, acute-care hospital, a freestanding outpatient center, and many outpatient clinics located throughout Northeast Louisiana.

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