In 1996, two friends created a fly fishing retreat program for female breast cancer survivors. The two women, a professional fly fisher and a breast reconstruction surgeon, started a grassroots organization that now spans the globe. This year, Casting for Recovery (CfR) has had 54 national retreats, and they are consistently growing due to their incredible results.
Fly fishing is physically beneficial to women who have had breast cancer surgery or radiation, as the rhythmic, repetitive movement of casting can increase mobility to that region of the body. It’s also emotionally beneficial, as the women get to learn a new task with a supportive group of peers. The act of fly fishing provides respite from the stresses of daily life and places the survivor in a new environment with a new focus.
“Retreat weekends are about the fishing and the casting and all of that, but it’s so much more and not just about the fishing,” says CfR’s social media guru, Tiffany Greene.
“The help is displayed in our statistics. One hundred percent of our alumnae who participate and complete the Casting for Recovery retreat weekend would recommend the program to a fellow breast cancer survivor.”
Other statistical benefits include high percentages of participants (above 90%) feeling connected, gaining new support bases, developing better coping mechanisms, accepting themselves, and learning something new about breast cancer. Plus, they get to learn how to fly fish!
Greene notes that knowing how to fly fish is not a requirement for the 2.5-day retreat, and most participants have never done it. In fact, 70 percent of them have never been to a support group. Breast cancer survivors simply fill out an application, and all participants are selected through a lottery.
Casting for Recovery collaborated with Project Healing Waters this year in a show of support for female veteran breast cancer survivors, and their first inaugural retreat aimed to give back to those who had served in the military. This year, there were also 3 CfR retreats for women with stage IV metastatic breast cancer.
Women who are able to participate get solace from their diagnosis, as they are surrounded by other women who have walked in similar shoes and truly understand the struggle of surviving with breast cancer.
One in eight women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer at some point in their lives. The mission of CfR is to “enhance the quality of life of women with breast cancer through a unique retreat program that combines breast cancer education and peer support with the therapeutic sport of fly fishing.” The program is for women with all stages of breast cancer, and it is always free for participants.
The non-profit organization is recognized as a four-star charity by Charity Navigator, a watchdog group.
Giving Tuesday is November 28th, and CfR is thankful for all donations received to get more breast cancer survivors to their retreats.
They are also launching limited edition fishing products on December 1st for the holiday season, so make sure and check out their catalog!