Pink Ribbon Program in the U.K.!

July 29, 2011

Doreen Puglisi, Founder of the Pink Ribbon Program has just returned from the U.K., having spent 10 days there training Pilates Instructors and Physiotherapists to become certified Pink Ribbon Program Instructors.

We now have 27 certified Pink Ribbon Program instructors located throughout the U.K.

“It was a wonderful experience and the Pink Ribbon Program is looking toward the future with trainings expanding into the U.K., Ireland, Denmark, Italy, and Holland.”

Mbodies Pilates and Wellness Studio instructors headed by Instructor Trainer Caroline Murray will be introducing the Pink Ribbon Program for Breast cancer survivors. Mbodies will be the first studio in the U.K. to offer The Pink Ribbon Program  with an initial 6 weeks of supervised exercise in the early post operative stage for Breast Cancer survivors it then transitions to allow continuation in the Mbodies Wellness and then standard classes.

Chris Onslow, business owner of Mbodies Training Academy will be offering continued Pink Ribbon Program Instructor certifications.  Doreen will return to the U.K. in January 2012 to conduct two additional certification trainings.

Please contact Mbodies for registration information.

Phone: 01993 517 000 or email:


A dose of inspiration….

June 4, 2011

It’s not every day that one receives affirmation that what they are doing is not only necessary but that it is making a difference.

I received an email recently from Erica N. from Illinois who has been working with Pink Ribbon Instructors at Equinox Fitness. I was so moved that I immediately asked if I could share her story and she agreed.

I can only hope that Erica’s story inspires someone to exercise their way through to recovery!


I am a three x breast cancer survivor.  I had a double mastectomy and tram flap surgery/reconstruction 6 years ago.  I had really struggled physically and emotionally until I came to Equinox and met Angie and Nicole last year.  They have changed my life, really.  Pilate’s has saved me. 

I had breast cancer the first time on the left side and went through a lumpectomy and they took 18 lymph nodes, chemo and radiation.  Several years later I had it in the right breast and had a lumpectomy and radiation and my sentinel node removed. A few years later, three times was a charm and I had the double with a tram flap.  Because of all the radiation, implants would not have held and they had made so many advancements on the tram that I was a perfect patient for it. 

I was told I would never be able to sit up from a lying down position on my own post-surgery.  Guess what, now I do.  I saw my oncologist last week and he remarked on what a difference Pilate’s has made for me.  He was amazed.  Post-surgery, I had back pain and walked around with my shoulders folded in almost protecting myself. The only exercise I did was walking because I kept injuring myself. I went to physical therapy several times but never overcame my disabilities. I couldn’t lift because I had no core and kept pulling muscles in my chest and that in turn created tennis elbows.  I had given up and I had gained weight which also caused problems. 

Nicole and I worked together and she was taking advanced Pilate’s training and studying very hard.  She convinced me to just try Pilate’s and see if I felt any different. Well I did.  I had no sensations in my stomach after surgery.  After 6 sessions I started to feel touch and tingling and over time I felt muscle strength start to develop. I am now taller, standing up straight with my shoulders back. I feel more positive about life and have more confidence.  My friends even remark how much I have changed.  

Today in my Pilates, I did front splits all by myself.  (Well Nicole never left me, but I swear it was all by myself! I couldn’t stop laughing because it was so cool. ) I found balance, something I have been working hard on.

I am always amazed as I go to Pilates tired and leave smiling laughing and dancing!  I can’t live without it.

While raising my children I did a lot of volunteer work in the community including getting a non-smoking ordinance passed, working on referendums, working on the New Trier Township Prevention Counsel, etc. It was during those years I was also going through breast cancer and treatments.   When my kids started high school I returned to the work force; I was working for a not-for-profit for 3 years and felt that I was contributing.  I was just saying today I wanted to make a difference and find something I was passionate about.   So yes, if I can inspire other survivors please share my story.

I am very lucky to have come to work at Equinox and be taken in by the Pilates girls.  They have taken me under their wings and coached me through my fears straight into their Pilates and Pink Ribbon Program.  Now all we need is insurance to cover it – right!   Our next mission. 

Thank you Pink Ribbon Program.  You have made a difference in my life.


Notes From This Survivor – Doreen’s Story

February 12, 2010

Cancer beats you up, both emotionally and physically.  There’s no easy way around that.

I never realized just how much until I was diagnosed with breast cancer myself in 2006. Suddenly everything I knew – my master’s degree and experience are both in exercise physiology – temporarily evaporated when I fully grasped the challenges I faced in recovery.

And like thousands of women every year, I felt unprepared.  Even with my knowledge of physiology and my experience as a business woman, exercise physiologist and Pilates instructor, I still felt unprepared.

But even before that happened I had already started to work with breast cancer survivors through a wellness studio I operated.  What amazed me was the fact that I continued to see women who had lymph node surgery yet had been discharged without a road map for recovering the use of their affected arm.   This is so important for both mobility and long-term quality of life, especially if the affected arm is the woman’s dominant arm.  You wouldn’t have any kind of shoulder surgery, or hip replacement for example, without a physical therapy prescription.   But breast cancer patients rarely had one even though the scapular, or shoulder, region is often greatly impacted by the surgery.  With my educational background and experience as a Pilates instructor, I started to develop a post-operative rehabilitation program to help women recover. 

Pilates is the best possible program for post-operative rehabilitation.  Many people don’t realize this but Pilates was originally developed to assist veterans returning from World War I.  Joseph Pilates believed that the mind and body were inter-related and that the key to strength was to stabilize the central, or core muscles.  In fact, I believe that any woman undergoing surgery for breast cancer when discharged, should be prescribed a follow-up plan for physical therapy.  Lymph node dissection and radiation, together or separately, are just two factors for lymphedema, a painful and sometimes disfiguring swelling of the soft tissue in the arm.  So as I continued to see more and more survivors I continued to build the Pink Ribbon Program, which was officially established in 2004.

Then as luck would have it, I made a decision that would both save my life and affirm my mission.   I’d been thinking about having breast reduction surgery for a few years and came across some information on a new procedure at the NYU Medical Center during a random internet search.  Even though I wasn’t a candidate for the procedure I went ahead with the reduction because the doctor was excellent.   When the tissue from the surgery was biopsied, an early cancer was discovered.   I knew I would have a mastectomy.  That part was actually very easy for me.

But I wasn’t prepared for the psychological aspect at all.  I felt like there was a train going through my head all the time.  Then I had one of those “moments” that many cancer survivors talk about.  I was in pain and thought taking a shower might help.  Without thinking I reached up to shampoo my hair with my affected arm.  I’ll tell you something, a stream of rockets went off in my skull.  I started crying and my first thought was:  Even with everything I know how am I ever going to get my arm mobility back?  In the next moment I thought:  how do women do this who don’t have the knowledge I possess?  That’s when I realized that I was not only on the right track with the Pink Ribbon Program but that it needed to be even bigger.  My effort needed to be much broader, and reach into the medical field and cancer centers.  That’s when I knew educating women and the medical profession about rehabilitation following breast cancer surgery was my mission.  That is why I’m here.  That’s how I could transform my cancer experience.

What’s essential for all breast cancer survivors to remember is this:  physical recovery of your arm is a gentle process that can take up to a year or more.  There is no rushing this process.  The Pink Ribbon Program is a six-week program that gets you started.   Working this program takes you through a gradual, phased process.  I’ve seen survivors who eventually develop a much higher level of fitness and self-esteem than they had before cancer, and this is gratifying.  But it’s essential for them to know what to do.

There are two things I’m glad to share with you:  you can be even better than you were before, you can be even more.  Let’s spread the word.


October 7, 2009

Welcome to the Pink Ribbon Program Blog. This is a new experience for us; stayed tuned for some entries by our founder Doreen Puglisi, Director of Development Tanya Pier and several guest bloggers. If you would like to be a part of our blog please contact Tanya via email: