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.
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. After seeing the positive results from the initial DVD, they launched a Spanish-language edition (Fuerza & Valentía) in 2016, specifically tailored to Hispanic breast cancer survivors. Today, with distributed copies in each U.S. state as well as 31 countries, Strength & Courage is recognized by survivors and health care providers as a highly effective tool for rehabilitation.