Women Afield — Hope Floats, Helping Women Recover From Breast Cancer

Fly fishing at a Casting for Recovery Retreat

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), breast cancer is second only to lung cancer as the leading cause of cancer deaths in women. One out of every eight women who lives to be at least 85 years of age will develop breast cancer. Over two million women in the United States have been treated for, or are currently living with, breast cancer. However, there is some good news; in spite of all these discouraging statistics, breast cancer—if caught early—can be treated and many women today call themselves breast cancer survivors because of early detection. The other good news is there are organizations and activities with some traditional outdoor activities, such as fly-fishing, designed specifically for breast cancer patients.

Fly fishing at a Casting for Recovery Retreat
Is it the rhythmic motion of the fly line, the gentle flowing waters or the sight of a new day breaking? Whatever the reason fly-fishing does wonders to restore your mind, body and spirit.
Pink Nails: the most associated color with breast cancer.
Pink is the color most associated with breast cancer.

The graceful art of fly-fishing does wonders for the mind, body and soul. For many avid anglers, fly-fishing is a form of therapy. Imagine standing waist deep in cool, tranquil waters under a cloudless sky as you listen to the soft wispy sound of the line as it gracefully dances overhead. Men and women have enjoyed this type of therapy for years and thanks to programs such as Casting for Recovery (CFR), many women are benefiting from the therapeutic effects of fly-fishing.

Founded in 1996, Casting for Recovery is a national non-profit support and educational organization using the sport of fly-fishing as encouragement for women who have had or who are currently fighting breast cancer as a form of physical and mental therapy.

Why are so many women with this disease retreating to the water with a fly rod in hand?

  • Perhaps it is the gentle casting techniques of fly-fishing that helps with joint and soft-tissue affected by radiation or surgery.
  • It could be the gentle motion of casting the fly rod which naturally aids in relieving stress.
  • It might also be the fact that CFR events allow women to focus on healing through counseling provided by medical and psychosocial professionals.

Whatever the reason, many women greatly benefit from sharing a weekend with other women who have similar experiences with cancer. CFR events focus on “wellness, rather than illness.”

Catching a nice trout on a fly is a memorable and life changing experience for many Casting for Recovery attendees.
For CFR attendees catching a nice trout on a fly is a memorable and life changing experience for many.

Although a CFR retreat may only last for two-plus days, the memories linger long after as many participants find a network of like-minded women who understand the challenges breast cancer can bring. Plus, they all have learned to enjoy a good fish story along the way. Well known for their therapeutic opportunities and life changing experiences, CFR retreats provide women with the tools to live a healthier life moving forward. Many participants, some of which had never fished before, continue to enjoy fly-fishing long after the weekend is over. What shocks people the most, perhaps, is the fact the retreat is at no charge to the participants.

CFR has hosted hundreds of retreats across the country and served thousands of women. CFR retreats have found tremendous success due to the dedication of nearly a thousand volunteers from the medical and fly-fishing community. Although there is no cure for breast cancer, women can still lead productive lives as well as experience the tranquil pleasures of fly-fishing thanks to programs such as Casting for Recovery.

Do you know someone who has gone to a Casting for Recovery retreat? Do you know of a similar organization? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section.


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