Taking Control and Embracing the New Normal

Therapy helps patient cope with aftereffects of cancer treatment

The Women’s Medicine Collaborative provides expert care By Women. For Women.

That made all the difference to Pamela Lambert, who sought help from the collaborative’s Program for Pelvic Floor Disorders for the aftereffects of her treatment for colorectal cancer.

She placed her trust in physical therapist Christy Ciesla, PT, DPT, PRPC, for the intimate treatment that was necessary.

“If you had been a man, I don’t know if I would have consented,” she told Ciesla.

Lambert’s cancer came to light in an unusual way. While at a routine eye exam, her optometrist noticed the signs of congenital retinal pigment epithelial hypertrophy, a lesion often linked to colon cancer, and urged her to get a colonoscopy. The test revealed that she had colorectal cancer.

After surgery and radiation therapy to treat her cancer, Lambert experienced trouble with her bowel movements. “Once you’ve had surgeries, things don’t pass through your body the same way,” she said. Yet she was too embarrassed to share her problem in a follow-up visit with her oncologist.

Ciesla works with patients at Rhode Island and The Miriam hospitals and coordinates women’s physical therapy services at the collaborative. She was able to provide Lambert the gentle but matter-of-fact therapy she needed to improve her bowel function, and has now moved on to addressing her patient’s sexual function.

The Program for Pelvic Floor Disorders at the Women’s Medicine Collaborative helps patients with fecal and urinary incontinence, chronic constipation, bladder dysfunctions, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, postpartum pelvic floor problems, rectal prolapse and more. “It’s important to understand that we see women every day with these issues,” Ciesla stated. “You are not alone, and you do not have to suffer in silence.”

Lambert is happy she was able to break through the barrier that kept her from getting help. The cancer survivor’s eyes brim with tears as she confided, “Coming here to the Women’s Medicine Collaborative has made handling the changes and my new normal so much easier.”

She added, “It’s amazing all the things you can find in one building – and it’s all women. Yay!”