And then her life as a patient and physician collided, happily.
While teaching in Florida, Brooks was treated by a specialist in chronic pain, who used osteopathic manipulation of her joints and acupuncture and changed her diet. Eventually, she not only got out of the wheelchair, but also was inspired to become a doctor. She went to Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine and earned her doctorate at 44.
Two decades ago, Brooks resurrected a clinic in Tutwiler that had been shut down for years. When she arrived in the town of now 1,200 people, there were no nearby doctors, she says. That's what attracted her to the delta to begin with. The poverty. The need. The average household income is $23,000 per year.
Brooks wanted to not only start at the economic bottom, but also stay there, she says. When she took over the clinic, the local press reported at the time patients paid with catfish and collard greens. The Tutwiler clinic is funded in part by the Catholic organization.