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Team Phoenix empowering women who have survived breast cancer

Cancer is the leading cause of death in Wisconsin. In 2013, more than 31,000 people in the Badger State will be diagnosed. Yet Wisconsinites are also survivors. In 2012, there were more than 279,000 survivors in the state, and the five year rate for all invasive cancers diagnosed between 2003 and 2009 is up to 66 percent.

Dr. Judy Tjoe, a breast cancer surgeon at Aurora Medical Center was a special guest on the CBS 58 News at 4 p.m.

She's the founder of Team Phoenix which uses the principles of the Iron Man competition in designing an exercise program for cancer survivors. 

The goal is to empower women to become proactive in their own healthcare and survivorship, move beyond the title of cancer survivor and redefine themselves as athletes through the introduction to the joys of exercise and living well.

Dr. Tjoe collaborated with Leslie J. Waltke, PT, Cancer Rehabilitation Physical Therapist and one of their Stage IV cancer patients, to design Team Phoenix as a form of encouragement and assistance to  breast cancer survivors so they can regain physical fitness, endurance, strength and flexibility after cancer treatment by training for a sprint triathlon.

Breast cancer survivors of all stages, ages and fitness levels train for a sprint distance triathlon as the launch into an active lifestyle to achieve lifelong health and fitness goals. Treatment and side effects are taken into consideration by the coaching staff and the volunteer medical team of physicians, nurses, physical therapists, and nutritionists.

Fellow breast cancer survivors enhance their survivorship through 14 weeks of prescribed workouts, training together and motivating each other to get to the finish line of their first triathlon. As teammates, they support one another as they achieve new and exciting milestones together, redefining themselves from patient to athlete.

Completing an athletic triathlon is a great accomplishment for anyone, but after enduring the medical triathlon of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, this achievement can be life changing for breast cancer survivors. Crossing the finish line is empowering beyond words.

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