“I want to hike in and out of the Grand Canyon”. Those were the words my mom said to me upon hearing her diagnosis of terminal cancer. The average person with my mother’s diagnosis did not have long to live. Having been involved in the fitness industry for over 35 years, I began training my mom to get her ready to hike. Following her first round of radiation and chemo, Joanna Dunlap Cowden indeed hiked in and out of the Grand Canyon. After a successful, challenging, and emotional hike, I immediately began working on my most important and relevant credential, a Medical Exercise Certification with an emphasis on cancer. Since then I have accumulated a wealth of knowledge on the subject of cancer and how fitness can have a positive impact. Most recently I earned a Cancer Exercise Specialist certification, one of just 500 completed worldwide.
I met Ann Murray Paige at a friend’s barbecue several years ago. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 at age 38. Within minutes we realized there was a reason we were both at this gathering. Both of us grew up diehard Boston sports fans in New England, and we were both on a mission to support people on their cancer journeys. Ann through her books, short films and speaking engagements, and myself through my expertise in health, fitness and mindset.
Ann, who passed away in 2014 after a long and courageous battle with breast cancer, viewed every new day as a blessing. She had a bright and bubbly personality that infected everyone, and she credits me with giving her “5 extra years” of being with her children, having fun, working out, LIVING life, and even attending the final game of the Red Sox 2013 World Series championship in Boston.
As a Cancer Exercise Specialist, there is no health issue more personal to me than that of cancer. Being able to be so deeply involved in both my mother’s and Ann’s lives and battles against cancer was a privilege I will never take for granted. Helping them fulfill their dreams and live life on their terms has changed the way I approach fitness and nutrition, and I am fully committed to making a difference for those fighting this awful illness. This is why I launched the Cancer Champion program.
Cancer Champion is an online program for cancer fighters and survivors. This program provides 5-,10- 20 and 30-minute workouts as well as hundreds of specially designed recipes. Along with this, participants will receive weekly live Zoom calls with myself and the Cancer Champion nutritionist, Damian Bramer, where we will answer your questions and provide cancer-fighting tips and the latest research you need to know.
My mother, my father, Ann and so many others I have had the honor to love and work with are truly the reason that Cancer Champion came to be. New England roots are not the only thing that Ann and my mother and father had in common. They taught me about resilience and strength. Their positivity, even at their most trying times, has had a lasting impact on myself and consequently so many others. They lived, they loved, they made their mark on many lives, and the world is truly a better place because of them.