Geaux Hero: LSU Football Star Greg Brooks Jr. Gets Expert Care for Rare Brain Cancer from Our Lady of the Lake

Nov 10, 2023 | Team Member Spotlights

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Dizziness and vertigo were the first signs that something was wrong for Greg Brooks Jr., a senior safety for the LSU Football team.

Greg was on his way to being a big part of the Tigers’ 2023 season after starting in 13 of 14 games last year. This season, his teammates had voted him team captain and Greg had already played in the Tigers’ first two games.

But his symptoms were concerning enough that he sought care from the Our Lady of the Lake Health team on LSU’s campus, ultimately undergoing an MRI that indicated signs of a tumor on his brain.

The Our Lady of the Lake team worked quickly to get him into surgery, with Brandon G. Gaynor, MD, a neurosurgeon at Our Lady of the Lake and the The NeuroMedical Center, performing the operation to remove the tumor.

The diagnosis was medulloblastoma, a form of brain cancer that’s especially rare in adults. It’s usually found in the cerebellum, or the back part of the brain where balance and coordination are located. For Greg, the cancerous tumor was blocking the flow of spinal fluid across his brain, essentially keeping fluid on the brain — a condition called hydrocephalus.

“It is a pretty complicated surgery,” Dr. Gaynor says. “And it’s a pretty delicate surgery because you have to actually get inside the brain and there’s obviously a lot of important stuff there.”

Fortunately, Dr. Gaynor’s neurosurgical specialties include hydrocephalus, and along with the neurocritical care team including Taylor Matherne, NP; Robin Sullivan, RT; and Marleigh Smith, RN, they were able to successfully remove the tumor and get Greg on track for recovery.

Dr. Gaynor says recovery can include physical therapy to regain coordination and speech therapy to help with issues with speaking that might linger during the recovery process.

“His prognosis is better to get this as an adult than as a young kid,” Dr. Gaynor says. “And Greg has a fantastic disposition. He’s a really strong guy with a bright future.”

Greg is now undergoing further treatment to help prevent the cancer from returning. In the meantime, those who wish to help Greg through his recovery can contribute to The Greg Brooks Victory Fund to help cover Greg’s ongoing expenses.

“Although he is working daily with physical therapy, he will face months of intensive rehabilitation,” says Catherine O’Neal, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Our Lady of the Lake Health. “He has a long journey ahead and will need the full support of our community behind him as he faces this battle.”

Dr. Gaynor says Our Lady of the Lake’s decades-long partnership with The NeuroMedical Center contributes to the expert care Greg received, with a team of specialized doctors and nurses skilled in the latest advancements in neurological treatments.

He also says that while he and his team were incredibly mindful of Greg’s stature among the LSU community, it’s the same excellent and compassionate care they extend to every patient.

“I’ve been a surgeon for years and I’ve taken care of people from all walks of life,” Dr. Gaynor says. “You’ve got to work at that same level every time, and everyone’s going to get my best.”

Dr. Gaynor and the rest of Greg’s care team have been honored as Our Lady of the Lake’s Geaux Heroes for the November 11 game against the Florida Gators. The distinction honors our incredible doctors and medical team members with recognition on the field during the game.

Learn more about the neurosurgery services offered at Our Lady of the Lake and throughout our healthcare system.

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