As a breast surgeon, and medical director of a breast center, I am always searching for ways to improve the quality of life for my patients. Casting for Recovery is an outstanding organization that empowers breast cancer patients and survivors, by providing participants with weekend programs that include education and support with instruction in the therapeutic sport of fly fishing.
I first become involved with Casting for Recovery eleven years ago. I agreed to be on the medical staff simply because it was a program for breast cancer patients—at the time I knew nothing about fishing. I subsequently learned, as most anglers know, that fishing is about much more than the fish! What I discovered at the Casting for Recovery retreat was women coming together to learn a new sport, and finding a special camaraderie. In addition to fishing instruction, the participants are provided with psychosocial support, medical education, and up-to-date information about survivorship. For the participants it is a weekend away, to relax, process, and engage in the mindfulness of fly fishing in the company of women who have had similar journeys. The retreats are full of hope, joy, and friendship.
Anyone can fly fish. It is a graceful sport that requires more finesse than strength. The fly fishing instructors at the retreats are both enthusiastic and patient—they provide all the gear and information needed to get out on the water. The retreats are provided at no cost to the participants.
I consider my volunteer service to Casting for Recovery to be part of the continuum of how I care for breast cancer patients. I have “prescribed” participation in Casting for Recovery retreats to patients, and seen them reap profound benefits. Post-retreat evaluations confirm what I have seen in my practice: 94% of participants report having gained a new support base and having learned something about living with breast cancer. Virtually 100% of participants say they would recommend the program for others. Most participants do catch (and release!) fish.
Now in it’s twenty-first year, Casting for Recovery has plans to provide 55 retreats nationwide, serving close to 800 women in 2017. The retreat for upstate New York will be held June 2 – 4, at the Tailwater Lodge in Altmar. Applications are online, at www.castingforrecovery.org. Applications are due by March 24.
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