How Cyndi Bigger Found Hope After Cancer Led to Heart Failure

Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center Heart Failure Clinic Finds a “Will” When There is a “Way”

After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997, Cyndi Bigger underwent rounds of radiation. The radiation helped her beat breast cancer, but in the process, damaged her heart. In 2014, she received a complete heart transplant evaluation by the CHI St. Luke’s Health – Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center (Baylor St. Luke’s) and Texas Heart® Institute cardiovascular team, but the results and prognosis were not encouraging – Cyndi did not qualify for a transplant due to her complex situation, including major damage to her chest, a triple bypass and an infection in her breast bone.

Cyndi was diagnosed with advanced congestive heart failure, and it was at that point that she first visited the Baylor St. Luke’s Heart Failure Clinic, founded by Dr. James Willerson, President Emeritus at the Texas Heart® Institute, and Dr. Reynolds Delgado III, cardiologist specializing in heart failure and heart transplantation, and Cyndi’s cardiologist.

The clinic provides a higher level of care, with specialty testing at each visit, monitoring of patients in real time through a telemonitoring system, and physicians and nurses who provide individualized care to each patient. The Clinic is one of the first in the country and has since been a model for development of heart clinics nationwide.

“Her case was challenging from the start,” explained Dr. Delgado III. “There were a lot of different factors that made our usual plans not plausible. So, we took the options we had available and made the most out of them.”

The team at the Baylor St. Luke’s Heart Failure Clinic regularly monitors the fluid around Cyndi’s heart to see how well it is pumping and how other organs are performing, help her understand her vital signs (blood pressure, weight, etc.) in relation to her medications, provide tips on living a healthier lifestyle, and assist her in scheduling follow-up visits with Dr. Delgado III.

“The diagnosis was dreary, but the outcome has been fabulous. No one thought I would still be here four years later,” said Cyndi. “There wasn’t much other hospitals and specialists could do for me, but Dr. Delgado III and the team at Baylor St. Luke’s have given me a new beginning.”

From hypertension to heart failure, Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, in partnership with Baylor College of Medicine and the Texas Heart® Institute, use the latest technology in diagnosis and treatment that offer hope to those who have been given little to no chance at life.