Strength & Courage


Janette Poppenberg and Sharon Cowden MD , Co-Founders of Strength & Courage

"Livin' the Dream"

Question-- “How are you?” Answer--“Livin’ the dream.” The line is originally from the song “Here I Go Again” but it was more recently popularized in the movie Cars-- --
Mater (tractor tipping ):” I tell you buddy, it doesn’t get better than this.”

Lightning McQueen:” Yep, you’re living the dream, Mater Boy.”

Usually the response is sarcastic as in Cars but today as I write this blog on Strength & Courage, I am struck by our success-- far beyond what we could have ever imagined.

Strength & Courage started as a “what if” dream of two friends. What if-- we could produce an affordable exercise video for breast cancer survivors so anyone would have access to the exercises needed for recovery. But the co-founders can also relate to the title “Here I Go Again”. For 5 years, we sought funding for the video but were rejected by one group after another. Most of those approached thought it was a great idea, but few were interested in contributing the $30,000 needed to produce the video. But we held on to the dream.

Pittsburgh was a great location for this dream-- a city recognized for achievements in health care and recognized for philanthropy. In 2006, a family foundation gave us $10,000 followed by matching contributions from Highmark and UPMC Health Plans. Since then we have received funding from the Heinz Endowment, FISA, Susan G Komen Pittsburgh Affiliate, and many individuals who gave just because they believed of the importance of the mission.

Today we have distributed over 17,000 DVDS throughout the US and 16 other countries; most recently the program was downloaded in Turkey. Our website in the past year received visitors from over 100 countries. On Facebook, we have close to 4,200 followers. But for us, “livin’ the dream” means hearing responses from those who have used the DVD like the following we received just this week—

“I am a breast nurse navigator. I'm also a breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed 2 ½ yrs. ago. I had a mastectomy and an axillary node dissection because I had one positive lymph node. I was seen in our lymphedema center because my right arm range of motion was limited. I also followed the exercises on the Strength and Courage DVD. I wanted to let you know how helpful the DVD was to me and my recovery”.

Yes, Janette Poppenberg, ACSM/ACS, certified cancer exercise trainer, and Sharon Cowden MD, breast cancer survivor, truly are “livin’ the dream”

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Author: Sharon Cowden MD    Posted: 10/19/2013


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