A Family’s Journey with Ovarian Cancer, Genetic Testing and the BRCA1 Mutation

Jamie Cesanek
Jamie Cesanek

Jamie Cesanek, Assistant Web Editor for CURE®, joined the team in March 2021. She graduated from Indiana University Bloomington, where she studied journalism and minored in sociology and French. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, running, or enjoying time with friends and family. Email her at jcesanek@curetoday.com.

In this episode of the “CURE® Talks Cancer” podcast, Maria Ciesla, an ovarian cancer survivor, and her daughter Alex Cornwell discuss Ciesla’s cancer journey and how it led them to do genetic testing that revealed they were both carriers of the BRCA1 mutation.

Maria Ciesla is an almost 23-year survivor of stage 1 epithelial ovarian cancer who was unexpectedly diagnosed at age 51. Nearly nine years after finishing treatment, Ciesla got a letter from a family member in Europe informing her that multiple relatives had ovarian cancer. This led Ciesla and her family to do genetic testing, which revealed that she and her daughter, Alex Cornwell, were both carriers of the BRCA1 mutation.

In this episode of the “CURE® Talks Cancer” podcast, Ciesla and Cornwell share their stories as part of Merck's Your Cancer Story program and offer advice for others in the same position.

“To see my mom's journey and know that I have a little bit of knowledge to prevent that is really empowering,” said Cornwell. “And then also, the positive outlook that my mom has had through all this also then makes me feel like, you know, that if something were to happen, that I'm in the driver's seat, that I can make these decisions, I can advocate for myself.”

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