"It should be a wakeup call for women to be given a prescription for rehabilitation as a standard of care. If their doctor doesn't automatically make a referral, women need to become squeaky wheels and demand it," Schmitz said.
However, Schmitz cautions that women who have been through breast cancer surgery should not rush out to buy a gym membership and start exercising on their own. Instead, they should work with a qualified professional who can guide them carefully through a customized program. She also recommends they review the exercise guidelines for cancer patients published earlier this year by the American College of Sports Medicine. Her team has a website that will release weight training protocols to licensed physical therapists but not to the survivors themselves. This is necessary, she says, to ensure proper treatment and keep patients out of harm's way.