Esther Mercado didn’t think much about it when she started gaining weight in 2012. But even though she joined a weight loss program, her weight kept climbing. One evening she went to the Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center Emergency Room for a severe case of reflux. A CT scan discovered a growth on her ovary. After an ultrasound, Dr. Richard Friedman, a gynecological oncology surgery specialist, told Esther she had ovarian cancer and that her weight gain and reflux were symptoms. Dr. Friedman removed Esther’s ovaries and part of her intestine. Esther underwent chemotherapy where she found strength and support from other patients and caregivers at the Disney Family Cancer Center (DFCC). Esther also took part in DFCC’s Thrivorship Program, a four month retreat for cancer survivors. In 2016, Esther had a recurrence of the cancer, which was treated with 18 weeks of chemotherapy under the care of Dr. Raul Mena, the medical director of the DFCC. Now retired, Esther keeps busy as a volunteer with the weSPARK Cancer Support group, Special Olympics and programs where she can support and guide youth. Esther is grateful she is strong enough to continue her volunteer work, her passion, which brings her the greatest joy of her life.
What Are the Benefits of Getting Genetic Counseling?
Genetic counseling is offered by the Disney Family Cancer Center to guide cancer patients and their family members who are concerned that they may be at higher risk for certain cancers because of an inherited gene. For example, the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutation are two of the most well-known and substantially increase the risk for breast, ovarian and other cancers.
Our program, led by medical geneticist Dr. Ora Gordon, provides genetic counseling, testing and high-risk management for both patients and family members. Dr. Gordon and her team assist individuals by interpreting their genetic test results to assess their cancer risk and by discussing options for modifying their risk through diet, exercise, surgery and other techniques.
Although the causes of most cancers are unknown, experts estimate that at least 10% of most cancer types are related to inherited genes.
Who Should Get Genetic Counseling?
If you or a close family member has had ovarian cancer, you are eligible for genetic counseling and testing.
If you are concerned about cancers other than ovarian cancer, you may still be eligible for genetic counseling and testing.