About Us

About Us

The Strength & Courage: Exercises for Breast Cancer Survivors DVD was developed by Dr. Sharon Cowden, a pediatrician avid golfer and breast cancer survivor, and Janette Poppenberg, a ACSM/ACS certified Cancer Exercise Trainer® certified by the American College of Sports Medicine to help women achieve a full recovery after breast cancer surgery.

Mission Statement

Strength & Courage, a non-profit effort, provides exercise resources to breast cancer survivors looking to regain physical and emotional strength after treatment. Our goal is to enable each woman to return to the life she knew before breast cancer. We do this by working directly with survivors and urging health care providers to make rehabilitation a priority in the treatment process.


In 2002, while working together to help Sharon in her recovery, Janette and Sharon came up with the idea of an exercise DVD to help other breast cancer survivors. Their shared dream was that the program would reach as many women as possible, especially in their region, Southwest Pennsylvania. To help women in all socioeconomic groups, the program would be offered free or at minimum cost. After five years of hard work, in 2007, the Strength & Courage: Exercises for Breast Cancer Survivors DVD was launched as a non-profit effort.

Janette and Sharon's goal is to help survivors return to their life before treatment. Additionally they hope to raise awareness among those who treat women with this diagnosis of the importance of exercise in achieving a full recovery. After surgery, some women receive a two-page handout of exercises to do. Some women receive no guidance. Women need the type of information given in Strength & Courage to get back in the swing of things!

All of the exercises featured in the DVD can be done in the privacy of your own home and are designed specifically to help women recovering from breast cancer surgery regain their strength and mobility. The exercises are demonstrated by breast cancer survivors and led by either Janette or Kathy Johnson, Licensed Physical Therapist.

In 2008, their dream became a reality when the first DVD was distributed. Initially, distribution and sales were sluggish. Then in 2009, Strength & Courage DVD was cited by Dr. Kathryn Schmitz in a New York Times article on breast cancer and exercise. Sales increased dramatically after that publication. Today, Strength & Courage is recognized by survivors and health care providers as a highly effective tool for rehabilitation.

Dr. Sharon Cowden

Sharon Cowden is a mother, grandmother, avid golfer, pediatrician and a breast cancer survivor. She has published two articles about her difficulty with recovery from breast cancer treatment. The articles, published in Cancer, are “An Unforgettable Surgery” and “Problems Getting Back in the Swing after Breast Cancer”. She is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and completed her pediatric residency at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Health System. She is a member of the Children’s Community Pediatrics – Pittsburgh Pediatrics.

Sharon was treated for breast cancer in 2002. That same year, she began working with Janette Poppenberg, an ACSM/ACS certified Cancer Exercise Trainer®, to regain her upper body strength and flexibility, which had been diminished by her treatment. From their shared experience, Sharon and Janette created Strength & Courage to help other survivors in their recovery.

Janette Poppenberg

Janette Poppenberg is an ACSM/ACS certified Cancer Exercise Trainer®. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Pennsylvania State University. Prior to starting her career as a private personal trainer, she served as director of several health and fitness clubs in the Pittsburgh area and as the director of corporate wellness for Managed Care of America.

Janette met Sharon Cowden when Sharon hired her to help her regain her strength and flexibility following breast cancer surgery. Although not a breast cancer survivor herself, Janette lost a cousin to breast cancer in 2003.

Strength & Courage

Regain Your Health Through Exercise

The exercises presented in Strength & Courage are an integral part of an effective breast cancer rehabilitation program. Available as DVD or digital download.