People of any age who are diagnosed with cancer can maximize strength and function during and after cancer treatment. Patients undergoing cancer treatment may experience one or more of the following side effects:
- Decreased muscle strength
- Decreased bone density
- Peripheral neuropathy related to chemotherapy
- Lymphedema or swelling disorders
- Difficulty walking
Our physical therapists can help address these and other issues through education and exercise. Each physical therapist works closely with the general oncology team and the pediatric and adult transplant teams to provide appropriate rehabilitation services to increase function and independence, both during and after cancer treatment. Children at least six years old and all adult patients with any type of cancer diagnosis can receive treatment at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) Physical Therapy Department.
Some patients may already have strength loss due to other concurrent disease, such as diabetes or heart disease, or due to prior cancer treatments initiated before beginning treatment at SCCA. Improving and maintaining strength during cancer treatments helps to prevent or reduce the risk of complications, such as infection, as well as to enhance quality of life. Physical therapy helps patients and their caregivers regain a sense of hope and control over their health by teaching proper and safe exercise to rebuild function, endurance, and muscle and bone strength.
Read more about who can benefit from physical therapy.
SCCA Physical Therapy Services
We provide individualized physical assessment and treatment plans for the following:
- Weakness secondary to disease or cancer treatment or muscle atrophy
- Fatigue/decreased endurance
- Impaired balance
- Peripheral neuropathy, including numbness, tingling and decreased balance or walking
- Osteoporosis and osteopenia
- Scar tissue management after surgery
- Lymphedema risk reduction and management
- Limited flexibility or range of motion
- Pain management
- Rehabilitation equipment and assistive-device needs (such as canes and walkers)
To schedule physical therapy, SCCA patients must be referred by a physician, physician assistant or nurse practitioner.
Location and Hours
- Location: The SCCA physical therapy office is on the fourth floor of the SCCA clinic.
- Office hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- Phone: (206) 288-6373
- Fax: (206) 288-2224
Physical TherapistsLearn more about SCCA physical therapists Lexi Harlow, Elisabeth Tomere, Rachel Douglas, Sue Frohreich, and Carol Baltaxe.
Lexi has been a part of the SCCA physical therapy department since 2006 and currently manages the department. She graduated from the University of Puget Sound in 2005 with a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree and has been working in the specialty of oncology since that time, including receiving training at SCCA as a student. Prior to coming to our clinic, she worked at Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland, WA in both inpatient and outpatient oncology. Lexi received her certification in lymphedema management in 2008 from Klose Training.
Lexi is dedicated to making a difference for patients with cancer by educating and encouraging them to exercise and be physically active before, during, and after treatment. She emphasizes the power of exercise in helping patients recover from cancer treatment. Lexi works in partnership with patients, and their families, to maximize their physical potential and believes that she does her job well when patients are thriving, not only surviving, and no longer need her services. She routinely lectures about the benefits of exercise and physical activity for cancer survivors in the community.
Lexi enjoys yoga, walking outdoors, reading, listening to music, traveling, volunteering, playing with her young daughter, and spending time with her family and friends.
Elisabeth graduated from the University of Puget Sound in 1998 with a Master’s degree in Physical Therapy. She went on to receive a transitional clinical doctorate degree in 2007. In 2011, she completed intensive training in Complete Decongestive Therapy, earning recognition as a CLT or certified lymphedema therapist. Elisabeth joined our staff in 2012 as our lead physical therapist.
Elisabeth has worked extensively in outpatient orthopedic settings, treating a wide range of physical impairments across the age spectrum. After receiving training in oncology care principles, she began to treat patients following breast cancer surgery and reconstruction. She became inspired and motivated to devote her practice to helping individuals recover from the musculoskeletal problems associated with cancer and cancer treatment. She specializes in women’s health concerns, including urinary incontinence and bladder and pelvic floor dysfunction, and has a strong interest in treating these conditions in the context of oncology. Elisabeth believes that all patients can benefit from the potent healing power of exercise as a path towards restoration of sound mental and physical health both during and after treatment.
When she is not at the clinic, Elisabeth enjoys being outdoors, gardening, reading, socializing with family and friends, listening to music, dancing, and preparing and eating good food.
Rachel Douglas, PT, MPT, CLT
Rachel graduated from Mount Saint Mary’s College in 1996 with a Master’s degree in Physical Therapy. She has gained experience in a variety of settings including acute and orthopedic rehab, hand therapy, and pelvic floor rehab. In 2001, she became a certified lymphedema therapist and since that time has focused in oncology. Rachel finds fulfillment working at SCCA as part of a holistic medical team. Her patients inspire her daily with their motivation and strength while making positive changes in their physical health.
Sue graduated from the combined Physical Therapy Program at University of California, San Francisco/San Francisco State University in 1996 with a Master’s degree in Physical Therapy. She worked at St. Mary’s Medical Center in San Francisco, California before transferring to SCCA in 2009.
Sue worked both inpatient and outpatient neurological rehabilitation for six years before being trained and certified in lymphedema treatment. She helped develop a hospital-based outpatient lymphedema program in 2002 and treated exclusively in this specialty. Knowing that each patient is unique with their risk and experience with lymphedema she continues to expand her treatment techniques with additional courses in lymphedema. She was also trained and certified as an ergonomic evaluation specialist in 2000, which she finds beneficial in treating all patients to increase their body awareness and decrease injuries.
Sue enjoys being active with hiking, snowshoeing, traveling, international film viewing, and volunteering.
Carol joined SCCA in 2010. She brings 10 years of experience working with a wide range of orthopedic, neurological, and oncology patients in the inpatient as well as outpatient setting. Carol graduated from the University of Washington in 2002 with a Master’s in Physical Therapy where her master's research project was on “The Role of Physical Therapy in Breast Cancer Care.” She went on to complete lymphedema specialist training from Klose Training and became a certified lymphedema therapist in 2007. Carol co-founded and co-developed the lymphedema program at the Veterans Administration Puget Sound Health Care System where she worked for seven years.
Carol is passionate about the importance of exercise for all patients undergoing cancer treatment to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence, and for restoring overall health after treatment. She strives to empower and motivate her patients as part of their cancer care team.
She is also an avid gardener and enjoys running, yoga, international travel, and spending time with her husband and daughter.