Breast Cancer Survivor Seeks Help for Sexual Health Concerns from UH Team

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Linda Estrada leads a life of adventure. The California “surfer girl” has lived up and down the West Coast, loves the outdoors, and is an avid sportswoman, reveling in activities such as mountain biking, wind surfing and kayaking. Estrada enjoyed these adventures and many more while raising her three daughters, donating time and energy to various non-profits, and building a career as a medical records specialist at Stanford Hospital in California.

Never one to shy away from a challenge, the now-retired Estrada moved across the country to Cleveland in April 2018 to be closer to her eldest daughter and grandson. Just a few months later, Estrada was faced with one of the biggest challenges of her life.

An Abnormal Mammogram

When Estrada, now living in North Royalton, went to get her annual mammogram in fall 2018, the radiologist noticed some small abnormalities in the image. Estrada underwent a biopsy procedure, and University Hospitals breast surgeon Pamela Li, MD, told her that the breast cancer was caught early – and that she was certain it was very treatable.

“Dr. Li made me feel confident with her. She explained everything in detail,” said Estrada. “Everyone else was very attentive to my needs, physically and emotionally as well.”

After undergoing two surgeries and two weeks of radiation treatments, Estrada had a follow-up mammogram six months later. “Dr. Li came in with her thumbs up,” Estrada recalled. “I’ve been fine ever since.”

Recurrent Bladder Infections and Sexual Side Effects

Estrada was cancer-free and living a full life, but in early 2021 she started having some problems with recurrent bladder and urinary tract infections. In addition to the pain of the infections, Estrada was experiencing another unwanted side effect of pain during sex.

After her third or fourth bladder infection in six months and continued problems with painful intercourse (dyspareunia), Estrada made an appointment with Anna Myers, CNP, a certified nurse practitioner at University Hospitals Urology Institute and an expert in female sexual health, pelvic medicine and other urological conditions. Myers is part of our multidisciplinary sexual health team that works collaboratively to treat patients with sex therapists, pelvic floor physical therapists, and menopause, OB/GYN and urology specialists.

Estrada was impressed with how thorough Myers was. “She was marvelous,” Estrada said. “I clicked with her because she was open to my concerns.”

Estrada said Myers listened closely and asked all the necessary questions to try to identify the cause and come up with solutions.

Myers referred Estrada to a pelvic floor physical therapist and also recommended other strategies for dealing with painful intercourse, including utilizing lubricants and devices with intercourse, moisturizers and prescription estradiol cream for dryness.

The pelvic floor therapist helped Estrada work on strengthening her pelvic floor muscles with Kegels and other exercises to help prevent bladder leakage. She attended four sessions with her therapist and continued to do the exercises on her own.

A Commitment to Health

A smiling Linda Estrada at the beach

Estrada’s dedication to her physical therapy exercises, combined with taking care of herself by eating healthy, drinking plenty of water, and applying the sexual hygiene strategies that Myers suggested, has made a world of difference in her health.

“I found that my areas of concern were fixed by a lot of common sense and knowing your own body,” said Estrada.

Estrada has not had any more bladder infections since employing the recommendations and has found success in her sexual health journey as well.

“I have a better quality of life by following what my body tells me and communicating it with my doctor,” she said.

Today, Estrada stays busy with a part-time job at a therapy center. Additionally, she spends time with her friends, daughter and grandson, and enjoys time outdoors. She is also writing a book about her experiences raising her special needs daughter.

Estrada continues to follow up with Myers, whom she calls her “Angel”, and praises the rest of her UH care team as well.

“[Myers] has a really caring way about her and I get the impression that she’s like that with everybody,” Estrada said. “I’ll continue to go to UH because of my positive experiences there. I’ve had such positive vibes from everyone there.”

Related Links

Sexual Dysfunction in Cancer Survivors

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