US: 414-322-8033 | International: +1 414-322-8033 |      

Making the world better for people with cancer



It was nearly 2 decades ago. I can still clearly hear her desperate-feeling and definitely stinging words. “What are you going to do about it?”

I became an oncology physical therapist in the mid 1990’s. The age of “Don’t worry about your arm, just be happy you’re alive,” was fading, but definitely still regionally persistent.

During that era, I was part of a growing band of physical therapists beginning to challenge the post cancer surgery status quo of “take it easy,” “limitation is to be expected” and “don’t lift, don’t push, don’t pull, don’t carry and you will be just fine.”

Forward thinking physicians, researchers and physical therapists began looking for new answers. And when we listen closely to the human body, anatomy and physiology will lead us in the right direction.

The answers are now more clear. Pain and limitation are not normal. Rehabilitation and exercise for people before, during and after surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are not only safe, but essential. So began a quiet evolution.

These new answers, however, were not reaching everyone. And thus is how I heard those stinging words while speaking at a cancer survivorship conference. “What are you going to do about it?”

The roots of the Waltke Cancer Rehabilitation Academy were planted in 2004 as R3 Programs (Rehab. Research. Results.). R3 Programs was established in response to this enormous need for accurate information regarding physical therapy, rehabilitation, exercise and physical wellness after cancer diagnosis and treatment. Through continuing education courses and onsite training, R3 Programs began to teach the importance of rehabilitation and exercise to the medical community and cancer patients and survivors throughout Milwaukee, the State of Wisconsin and the US.


Fast forward to the present. Cancer survivorship issues are now in the spotlight of research and cancer care. The number of cancer patients and survivors are growing at an astonishing pace. This has only highlighted the still present “cancer rehabilitation gap”: Oncology doctors and nurses don’t know enough about rehabilitation, and rehabilitation therapists don’t know enough about oncology. The result? The very patients that come to us for help, bear the brunt of our unawareness. They suffer more pain, more fatigue, more weakness and more loss than is necessary.

With the intent of pushing the quiet cancer rehabilitation evolution into a not so quiet revolution, the Waltke Cancer Rehabilitation was founded in 2016. By adding international collaboration and harnessing the power of social media and online education, the WCRA is driven to pull the worlds of rehabilitation and oncology together.

People affected by cancer deserve the finest evidence based treatment available. Together we have the power to provide it to them. I look forward to the opportunity of working with you to make the world better for people with cancer!

Leslie J. Waltke, PT, DPT

The Waltke Cancer Rehabilitation Academy seeks out human diversity and appreciates the full range of individual distinctions among people. Cancer does not discriminate, we don’t either. Our differences make us stronger.

Waltke Academy MISSION: We strive to reduce the unnecessary suffering and functional loss felt by cancer patients and survivors.

Waltke Academy VISION: We foresee a world where rehabilitation is fully integrated into cancer care and where everyone diagnosed with cancer has access to cancer rehabilitation.

Contact us!
US: 414-322-8033
International: +1 414-322-8033
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Leslie WaltkeLeslie J. Waltke, PT, DPT is a physical therapist with a clinical mastery in cancer rehabilitation and Founder of the Waltke Cancer Rehabilitation Academy. Since earning her degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Wisconsin in 1988, Dr. Waltke has spent the majority of her career solely dedicated to treating the physiological, musculoskeletal, integumentary and functional needs of persons during and after treatment for cancer. She is respected internationally as an oncology physical therapist, key opinion leader, author, educator and consultant.

Since 2005 Dr. Waltke has been the Cancer Rehabilitation Coordinator for Aurora Health Care, one of the United States’ largest cancer programs and proud holder of the rare Commission on Cancer “Outstanding Achievement Award.” Her role, in addition to treating patients with cancer, includes cancer rehabilitation program development, education and training, and best practice and clinical standards development. Cancer rehabilitation programs are now available at each of Aurora Health Care’s 14 hospitals and at 27 outpatient Aurora Rehabilitation Centers throughout Wisconsin. The Commission on Cancer and the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers have consistently described her cancer rehabilitation programs as “excellent” “amazing” and “outstanding.”

A gifted and impassioned speaker, Dr. Waltke teaches and lectures throughout the United States to rehabilitation professionals, medical and oncology providers, universities, cancer organizations as well as cancer patients and survivors. She recently spoke at the 2014 China Cancer Congress and the 2015 World Cancer Congress.

Dr. Waltke sits on multiple state and national oncology boards and was recently honored with the 2015 Academic Excellence and Leadership Award from Rosalind Franklin university of Medicine and Science, the “Article of the Year Award” from the Journal of Patient-Centered Research and Reviews and the 2015 Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Education Recognition scholarship.


US: 414-322-8033
International: +1 414-322-8033

Dr. Waltke’s 2017 Speaking Schedule

February 20Mount Saint Joseph PT SchoolCincinnati, OH
February 261 day onsite rehab staff training: Northern Community HospitalArlington Heights, IL
March 13Rosalind Franklin University PT School CA Rehab LectureNorth Chicago, IL
March 17 & 182 day onsite training Ascension Health SystemAppleton, WI
May 6Rehabilitation for the Patient with CancerGalway, Ireland
May 13Cancer Toolbox for PhysiosLondon, England
May 19-21World Cancer Congress 2017Barcelona, Spain
July 29, 302 day Advanced On-site Training Ochsner Health SystemNew Orleans, LA

Dr. Waltke’s 2016 Speaking Schedule

February 12Mount Saint Joseph PT SchoolCincinnati, OH
March 14Rosalind Franklin University PT School CA Rehab LectureNorth Chicago, IL
April 6American Lung Association - Lung Force ConferenceBrookfield, WI
April 9 & 10Leaders in Oncology ForumPhiladelphia, PA
April 14Wisconsin Physical Therapy Association Spring ConferenceMadison, WI
April 16 & 17Rehabilitative Treatment for The Patient with CAChicago, IL
July 15 & 162 day rehab staff onsite training: Ochsner Health SystemNew Orleans, LA
September 24Marquette University School of Exercise PhysiologyMilwaukee, WI
October 24Marquette University PT School CA Rehab LectureMilwaukee, WI