By Doreen Puglisi
This is the true story of how I, Doreen Puglisi, a Divorce and breast cancer survivor, turned my professional and personal experience with breast cancer into a global brand.
The Pink Ribbon Program, Inc. originated in 2002 when as an exercise physiologist and certified Pilates instructor, I began working with several breast cancer patients at my New Jersey based wellness studio. When reviewing a patient’s health history, I was dismayed to discover that survivors were discharged following mastectomies, lymph node dissections and even reconstructive surgeries without a medical plan for either physical therapy or rehabilitation. With extensive research into the aftercare for this patient base, what I discovered was astonishing; there was, and still is no medical standard of care for rehabilitation of breast cancer patients.
With this discovery, I was determined to create the first therapeutic exercise program for patients who struggle with the physical complications and limitations following breast cancer surgery and treatment. Based on its principles of proper alignment, stabilization, correct posture, improving flexibility and full range of motion, I believed that using Pilates was a perfect fit for breast cancer rehabilitation. Using my expertise in Pilates, I created a program with modified movements designed specifically for breast cancer survivors.
In an ironic twist of fate, I was diagnosed with breast cancer after creating the program. This gave me firsthand experience and understanding of the actual pain and physical limitations that survivors deal with on a daily basis. I found common ground and could relate to my patients on a personal level as I completed the very program I had created to cope with the aftermath of cancer. Due to this personal experience, I was even more determined to help as many breast cancer patients as possible.
In 2005, I created the educational training component that now has me traveling throughout the United States and Europe to train both healthcare professionals (Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Oncology Nurses), and Pilates instructors. To date, The Pink Ribbon Therapeutic Exercise protocol has been taught to over 1000 healthcare/fitness professionals. In 2012, The Pink Ribbon Program was launched internationally. Training is now available in the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, and Denmark; with plans of expanding into Hungary during the summer of 2015.
The ultimate goal of the Pink Ribbon Program, Inc. is to create a medical standard of care for post-operative rehabilitation for all breast cancer patients. The philosophy of Pink Ribbon Program is to empower patients to: “Get Back to Living, Not Just Surviving”.
Mission Statement: The life-force of the Pink Ribbon Program is to ensure that every woman has the ability to regain a sense of wellbeing that had been lost from diagnosis through surgery and into recovery. This can be achieved, in part, through a post-operative rehabilitation program designed specifically for the needs and challenges facing the growing number of breast cancer survivors.