A dedicated exercise program developed by breast cancer survivors and medical experts to enhance your ability to lead an active life after surgery.

Regain your strength through exercise

The exercises presented in Strength & Courage are an integral part of an effective breast cancer rehabilitation program.

We also offer a Spanish-language edition titled Fuerza y Valentía. DVDs and digital downloads are available in English and Spanish for $15.

ONE IN EIGHT WOMEN in the US will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.

EVERY TWO MINUTES a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer.

OVER 3.3 MILLION SURVIVORS of breast cancer are alive in the US today.


Recuperar su salud a través del ejercicio Los ejercicios presentados en Fuerza & valentía son una parte integral de un programa de rehabilitación eficaz del cáncer de mama. Disponible como DVD o descarga digital.

Learn how to reduce the risk of lymphedema through exercise

All exercise, including weight training has been proven to be beneficial for breast cancer survivors. Exercise can decrease the risk of developing lymphedema by over 33%.

About Strength & Courage

Developed by breast cancer survivors and medical experts, the Strength & Courage: Exercises for Breast Cancer Survivors program strives to enhance your ability to lead an active life following breast cancer surgery.

An integral part of any breast cancer rehabilitation program, Strength & Courage guides you through a stretching and weight training regimen that can be started shortly after surgery. It also includes guidelines for aerobic exercise, which has been proven to reduce breast cancer recurrence.

You’re Not Alone. We’re Here to Help!

Since 2008, more than 31,000 copies have been distributed in the U.S. and in 40 additional countries.

Strength & Courage: Exercises for Breast Cancer Survivors will soon be accessible on YouTube in English and Spanish (Fuerza y Valentía). Until then, if you have any questions or need help accessing the program, please complete the form or email us at info@strengthandcourage.net.

Personal Statements

We are thankful for the many breast cancer survivors who have tried our exercise program and shared their experiences with us.

Personal Statements

We are thankful for the many breast cancer survivors who have tried our exercise program and shared their experiences with us.

“I had a bilateral mastectomy and was proactive in wanting to regain full motion as quickly as possible. There’s no way I could have achieved that without this resource. Years later I saw Peggy Finnegan (the moderator) on an airplane and gave her a hand written note of thanks for hosting the DVD. I could see her tear up while reading it. Bless all of you. I still use your DVD six years post-surgery, so thank you! I just don’t feel well unless I continue with the stretching.”
Denise Adair

“It (Strength & Courage) is very beautifully produced and very informative. Since my lymph nodes were compromised, my husband I had a lot of fear on lymphedema, but the DVD information calmed us down before the surgery. Some Internet testimonial worried me if I could be functional at all at the beginning of the spring semester. It was very encouraging to hear that exercises after the surgery will help with recovery. As soon as drains were removed, I started with easy exercises and moved onto exercises with weights. At the first follow up with the plastic surgeon, he was happy with my flexibility.”
Keiko Flores, Professor of Japanese

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 Cancer Exercise Trainer certified by the  American College of Sports Medicine and the American Cancer Society, 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.

Our History

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 at minimal cost.

Our Founders

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”.

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.

Our Supporters

We are grateful to all of the following who have supported and encouraged us as we developed Strength & Courage: Exercises for Breast Cancer Survivors.

Funding for Strength & Courage was provided by:


Consulting and medical expertise for Strength & Courage was provided by:
  • Adam M. Brufsky, MD, PhD – Co-Director, Breast Cancer Program, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
  • Shannon Puholla, MD Breast Cancer Oncologist , University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
  • Kathryn H. Schmitz, PhD, MPH – Research advisor on exercise and breast cancer survivors, Penn State Cancer Institute
  • Kathy Johnson – Certified Physical Therapist
  • Mandy C. Kulifay, DPT, CLT-LANA – University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
Special thanks to our moderators, Peggy Finnegan and Cindy Fernandez.

For a full list of our sponsors, please visit our desktop site.