Words: Jordan Regas Photos: Rachel Benavides
After a horrible accident, Dr. Ester Pollard found herself face to face with a doctor who wanted to remove her leg. She sought out a second opinion and found a doctor in Houston who would reconstruct it. It took seven surgeries and two years of seeing patients in a wheelchair before she was back on her feet.
“It was really humiliating to see patients in a wheelchair, because I am really active,” said Dr. Pollard.
One day, while treating a patient for testicular cancer, she was feeling down on herself for not being able to walk. The young man gracefully offered to trade places with her, and mentioned she was actually more effective treating him because of the wheelchair. It was in that moment her whole philosophy on treating patients changed.
“I don’t give up. I just don’t give up,” says Dr. Pollard.
Dr. Pollard was born and raised in Corpus Christi and graduated from IWA Academy. She completed Medical School at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and was one of two Fellows in the second graduating class of the University of Texas Health Science Center – San Antonio. After a residency at the Harlem Hospital Center’s Sickle Cell Clinic, she almost took a job in Los Angeles before finding out her dad had Lymphoma and came back home to Corpus Christi in 1987 to help treat him. He went on to live for ten more years.
Dr. Pollard has helped patients in the Coastal Bend fight against cancer for over 30 years. She finds joy in the little victories along the way, such as helping patients get access to medications they need, even when they are denied by their insurance.
“The biggest challenge is helping patients get the funds they need for medication and therapy,” says Dr. Pollard. “There are other options out there, including Immunotherapy.”
She will connect patients to different grants available to help get the testing they need to qualify for new ways to fight cancer. Also, Dr. Pollard is connected with physicians across the state, and when patients can’t get treatment for whatever reason, she connects with other doctors to find the right physician for them to get started with their treatment.
At least a quarter of the year, Dr. Pollard will have a resident with her. She likes teaching and loves to travel. She has helped breast cancer patients in the Dominican Republic who do not have access to the level of care available here in the United States. She also heads up two hospices, taking care of patients from front to back. Dr. Pollard does everything she can to for fight for her patients, but she knows her limits.
“I will offer the patient who has a reasonable performance status another option. You could go to Houston, you could go to Dallas, you could go to San Antonio,” says Dr. Pollard.
Her fierce passion for helping others has allowed her to care for many here in the Coastal Bend and her will to keep pushing forward is an inspiration to all.