Gynecological Oncology Doctor has a Personal Story Behind her ‘Why’

Patient Stories |


Jessica Parker 2

She joined IU Health two years ago and has relied on her personal background to help propel her into the professional arena of helping women cope with cancer.

By IU Health Senior Journalist TJ Banes,

There are numerous life events that can impact a career. For IU Health’s Dr. Jessica Parker one happened recently. She delivered a healthy baby boy at Riley Hospital for Children. Another happened when she was nine.

“No one in my family had been in medicine but my father had a brain tumor the size of a baseball. He passed a little less than a year after his diagnosis,” said Parker. “That experience made me interested in oncology as a young kid.” At first, she thought of pursuing a career in research but eventually decided she wanted to offer the care that she couldn’t provide for her father.

She chose gynecological oncology and joined IU Health in September 2021 after completing her fellowship training at the University of Texas Northwestern. Originally from Pennsylvania, Parker grew up in Florida and completed undergraduate and medical school at the University of Florida. She completed her OB/GYN residency at Stony Brook University, New York.

Parker met her husband, Chris Metter, while serving on a tumor board during her residency. They were married three years ago and moved to Indianapolis where her husband works as a pathologist at another Indiana hospital.

Delivering her first child in the care of Dr. Nicole Scott gave Parker a different view of health care.

“While I have knowledge in obstetrics because I trained in that area, being a patient is a whole new ballgame,” said Parker. “I recognized how important good doctor-patient communication is. A lot of times, we as practitioners don’t know what a patient might be thinking if they don’t hear from us. My OB/GYN was great and I felt like I could ask anything, without judgment.”

Following are five things that women may not know about gynecologic cancers:

> Some gynecologic cancers have few symptoms and are difficult to find early. If you experience abdominal symptoms such as pain, bloating or fullness that doesn't go away, reach out to your doctor.

> Bleeding after menopause is not normal and should be evaluated.

> Cervical cancer can be prevented with a vaccine and may be discovered early with regular pap smears.

> Obesity can increase your risk of some gynecologic cancers, particularly uterine cancer.

> Some gynecologic cancers run in families. Discuss your family history of cancer with your doctor.

In her practice, Parker focuses on helping patients and families with all aspects of gynecologic oncology including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, palliative care and remission. A special focus is on endometrial and cervical cancers.