Empowering cancer survivors to improve their quality of life through a program of fitness and health.
Medical studies have proven that exercise can help minimize and manage the associated side effects from cancer and treatments including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Exercise training can restore physical function, enhance quality of life, and mitigate side effects such as fatigue, depression, lymphedema, and other health-related changes. Fit to Fight provides a positive, exercise-based program for cancer survivors to re-establish trust in their bodies and maximize health, movement, and function across an individual's lifespan.
A licensed Physical Therapist directly oversees the program for ongoing development, screening, and mentorship of participants and the University of Montana Student Physical Therapist volunteers. Fit to Fight is a free program for cancer survivors to promote fitness and health from the time of diagnosis through the balance of life. The format is a small, organized group setting with individual tailoring. Each session consists of education and activities focused on the body as a whole to address the musculoskeletal, lymphatic, cardiopulmonary, and neuromuscular systems through balance, breathing and relaxation, endurance, strength, and functional training. This program does not replace the importance of individualized skilled physical therapy that one may require.
We aim to create a community, camaraderie, and a positive support system for cancer survivors. We focus on expanding an individual's activity tolerance, functional capacity, and quality of life through movement and education to assist in meeting one's health and wellness goals.
Aspen is a physical therapist at Alpine Physical Therapy South and Clinical Director for Fit to Fight. Aspen grew up in Missoula, Montana and received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Montana in 2018. Aspen has seen the positive impact this program offers for participants in rebuilding confidence in movement, strength and ability to return to life's activities. She is excited to be a part of Fit to Fight in order to share her passion for exercise and movement in this unique setting.
Amanda Charron, SPT
As program coordinator, Amanda leads our participants through exercise sessions designed to provide education about the benefits of movement and help participants accomplish their goals. Amanda hopes that Fit to Fight can foster a positive environment around exercise and help participants feel empowered to improve their quality of life. She is currently working on her Doctorate of Physical Therapy at the University of Montana and will graduate in May 2025. Amanda graduated with a Bachelors in Wildlife Biology and served as a wildland firefighter prior to changing career pursuits to PT. Cancer is very personal to her since the loss of her mother to melanoma. It is an honor for her to provide comfort, encouragement, and understanding to those impacted by cancer.
Amanda enjoys adventuring in the mountains, trail-running, hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, and snowboarding.
Sam Schmidt, PT, MPT, NCPT
Jennifer Bell, PT, ScD, COMT
Sam is a physical therapist and co-owner of Alpine Physical Therapy and PhysioTrekk, a walk-in, urgent care physical therapy, both in Missoula, MT. Sam is the co-founder of Fit To Fight and is currently serving as the Co-Chair of the Fight To Fight Board. Sam has witnessed the positive impact the program provides not only to the participants but to all the volunteers and staff. The program’s unique model of exercise, education, and group support offers a successful journey in renewing one’s trust in their body from strength to endurance to pursuits in all aspects of life. It is why Sam continues her commitment to the board and the organization.
Jenn is a physical therapist and the Program Director and Director of Clinical Education at the University of Montana School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science. For nine years, Jenn has been teaching students at UMPT about the importance of physical activity and exercise on preventing and managing cancer. She is a strong believer that exercise programs like Fit to Fight provide essential physical activity and social support for people fighting and recovering from cancer. She is excited to be a Board Member since 2021 and looks forward to continuing to support this life changing organization.
Natalie is Missoula an attorney with Cotner Law Firm in Missoula, MT. She has a diverse practice which includes family law, employment law, and general civil litigation. In addition to serving on the Fit to Fight Board Natalie is a board member of the WestSlope Chapter of Trout Unlimited.
Jen Fivecoat joined the FTF board in 2022. She is the Group Fitness Director and a personal trainer at The PEAK Health and Wellness center in Missoula. Jen specializes in exercise programming for people with chronic conditions and physical limitations. She has over 15 years working with a variety of clients including stroke recovery, joint replacement, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune disorders and cancer recovery. As a breast cancer survivor, Jen has a special connection with those who have fought and survived. Based on her own cancer journey, she has experienced firsthand the vital role that exercise plays in recovery not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well. Jen’s greatest joys in life are her children Zane and Kelcie, son-in-law Josh and granddaughter Isla.
Cody Meyer, MSW, SWLC
Cody is currently the Clinical Director at Cancer Support Community Montana. He joined the FTF board in March of 2023. Cody is also the Vice President of the National Association of Social Workers Missoula Chapter board and on the board of the Child Development Center. He has been working as a director in the non-profit sector for 2 years now including one year of working exclusively with those affected by cancer. Cody is a firm believer in the mind/body connection and how your physical and mental state can truly help you when going through cancer treatment.
Trudi Fisher, M.S., CCC-SLP
Trudi is a speech-language pathologist at Community Medical Center. She focuses on head and neck cancer rehabilitation and has witnessed the impact of exercise in recovery from cancer. Trudi is passionate about helping people maintain function and return to living well after the devastation of a cancer diagnosis. She loves to recreate outdoors, herself and feels privileged to call Missoula's wild lands and kind people her home.
Andrew Larson is a born and raised Montanan. After college, he wandered to both coasts for about a decade before finding his way home in 2008. He has been a commercial banker for First Security Bank since landing back in MT. He feels lucky to call Montana home, and the availability to explore the outdoors with his wife and three daughters.
Cancer had a big impact on Andrew and his family with the loss of his father-in-law to Leukemia in 2002.