We love it when a photo speaks 1,000 words, words that are far better and clearer than our own.
This photo breathes tranquility, beauty, and peace. It exhales the scent of pine needles and moss-covered rocks. It speaks of swiftly moving water tumbling gently over boulders. It whispers to the soul: come, relax, enjoy.
If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, these last two words may not seem possible.
Relax? Is that even imaginable when your entire body is filled with fear?
Enjoy? What is there to enjoy when treatments for breast cancer take away so much—your time, your energy, your dignity.
A national nonprofit organization, Casting for Recovery, believes you can do just that—to relax and enjoy—with their simple invitation: come.
Come join other women who have received a breast cancer diagnosis. Come enjoy a weekend retreat designed to inspire, to discover, and to experience the healing connections with other women and with nature (see the photo above)—all at no cost to those who participate (this includes the use of all fly fishing equipment, meals, and hotel stay)!
Not the outdoorsy type? Never been fishing before? No problem! Casting for Recovery is for all ages, any ability level (even those who have never held a fishing rod), and any stage of breast cancer!
Casting for Recovery was founded in 1996 by a breast reconstruction surgeon and a professional fly fisher to help women who have had surgery or radiation for breast cancer—the gentle motion of casting has been found to increase mobility and muscle development in the arm and upper body. In addition to the physical benefits, the emotional support of other women attendees (and professional staff) and the healing power of nature enhance the experience.
“With my second breast cancer diagnosis, I was told I had 5 years and it felt like my world was falling apart. I was doing a lot of online searches about my type of breast cancer when I stumbled upon Casting for Recovery,” remembers Maya*. Participating in a retreat “was the mental turning point I needed. It was the best thing that helped me turn things around: to get out, meet others, and heal.”
Willow* agrees. “I had never been in a group with other women that had breast cancer, so this retreat brought up feelings I’d never felt or shared before. It made me more introspective. These women really understood what I was feeling on a deep level, and that was really powerful.”
“I felt really emotional at the end of the weekend,” shares Cyan*. “These women were there for me when I needed it most—women who understood what I was going through without me having to explain myself. And to unplug and be in nature—with the water rushing by and the rustling of the leaves—it was really relaxing.”
Participation in a retreat does not require attendees to continue fly fishing. While Maya has gone on to purchase her own gear and pontoon for lake fly fishing, Willow and Cyan have not pursued fly fishing beyond the weekend retreat, incredibly grateful for the valuable insight, healing, and friendships that they were able to take away from the experience.
The annual Minnesota & Wisconsin Casting for Recovery fly fishing retreat is a 2½ day event for 14 local women that begins on a Friday afternoon with a meal and opportunities to meet, learn about, and connect with the other participants and leaders. Saturday events mingle fly fishing education with group activities, art projects, discussions, and storytelling. The final day—Sunday—is on the river, each fly fishing novice paired with a knowledgeable River Volunteer to guide them as they practice their new fly fishing skills.
This year’s Casting for Recovery retreat is June 28-30, 2019, in Faribault, MN, with applications due April 19th, 2019. Applications require your doctor’s approval and are chosen on a lottery system. If you are interested or would like more information:
- The national Casting for Recovery
- The local Minnesota / Wisconsin Casting for Recovery website
- Contact local co-leaders Jennifer Schlek (651-338-7198 or CfRJen@gmail.com) or Melissa Bearth (651-302-9252 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
A tremendous thank you to past Casting for Recovery retreat participants for sharing their stories and to Jennifer Schlek, local co-leader, for sharing the program with Firefly. Jennifer has been involved in Minnesota/Wisconsin Casting for Recovery since it began 10 years ago. Not a breast cancer survivor or fly fisher herself, Jennifer enjoys volunteering because “I like seeing women experiencing the benefits of the program, learning somethings new, and connecting with other women who have breast cancer.”
*Names have been changed to protect those who have shared their experience with us.
Written by Amy Tix, Firefly Staffer and breast cancer survivor, who thinks that fly fishing would be amazing!