A group of 14 women stand together, each tossing a stone into the water and watching the ripples. Each stone signifies the woman’s fears and worries, and as the ripples join together, there becomes one giant ripple of support.
These women are a part of Casting for Recovery (CFR), a unique retreat that combines counseling, medical education and fly-fishing to promote physical and emotional healing from breast cancer. Since 1996, the ripples from CFR have helped thousands of women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer improve their quality of life.
Each year, CFR offers two, two-and-a-half day retreats in Tennessee for 14 women per retreat at no cost to participants, and the application process is now open for the 2011 programs. Any woman of any age in Tennessee who is at any stage of treatment and recovery from breast cancer is eligible to apply to attend a retreat. Participants for the retreats are chosen at random.
The 2011 Tennessee retreats will be held on April 8-10 at The Lodge at Buckberry Creek in Gatlinburg, and May 1-3 at Petticoat Junction Retreat House in Normandy. The deadline to apply for the Gatlinburg retreat is Jan. 28, and the deadline to apply for the Normandy retreat is Feb. 25. To apply, please visit www.CastingForRecovery.org.
Each retreat offers fly-fishing instructions and medical information on breast cancer to help participants undergo physical and emotional healing. The intimate atmosphere of social support and empowerment allows participants to gain new knowledge on methods of coping and problem solving, as well as new friendships and greater self-esteem, reducing the feeling of isolation experienced by many survivors.
“Casting for Recovery is a most magnificent way for women who have gone through breast cancer to go to a retreat that makes us feel like queens for a weekend, while finding our sister survivors and experiencing the thrill of fly fishing,” said Annabelle Winfrey, breast cancer survivor and attendee of the 2010 retreat. “As we say, to fish is to hope.”
CFR gives breast cancer survivors the opportunity to escape from treatments, family responsibilities, and financial concerns in order to focus on their wellness and recovery. In addition, it is an opportunity for women, whether currently undergoing treatment or a 10-year survivor, to connect with one another, share their personal experiences, and address the issues that may arise in their journey to recovery.
At the retreats, participants learn the fundamentals of fly-casting, entomology, knot-tying, and equipment basics as they spend time on the water practicing catch-and-release fishing. The fly-fishing techniques serve as a form of therapeutic motion, improving the range of motion in the shoulders, as well as helping to control the swelling that occurs after surgery and/or because of lymphedema. Also, the natural setting of fly-fishing creates a calming environment, free from the stresses of every day living.
“Our retreats provide women with the opportunity to not only step our of their comfort zones and learn a new sport, but also to escape for a weekend and bond with women who understand exactly what it’s like to be diagnosed with and recover from breast cancer,” said Lindsay Long, the 2011 CFR Tennessee Coordinator. “Seeing these women-these survivors, in the streams with their catches and big smiles on their faces is inspiring.”
In post-participant evaluations, 100 percent of participants would recommend CFR to other women diagnosed with breast cancer. Other results show 90 percent felt better able to cope with their disease and were more aware and accepting of themselves; 92 percent learned something new about living with breast cancer; and 95 percent felt they connected with other participants. A majority of participants even plan to continue participating in the sport of fly-fishing.
The retreats are provided free of cost to participants and are open to any woman who has or has had breast cancer. The average cost of one participant to attend the retreat is $1,100, and each service area of CFR is self-funding and raises money to help underwrite the cost of each retreat. To make donations to the Tennessee program, please go to www.castingforrecovery.org/donate, mail a check to Casting for Recovery, P.O. Box 1123, Manchester, VT 05254, or call 1-888-553-3500 to donate over the telephone, and specify the contribution is for Tennessee-1 to ensure funds remain in Tennessee.
For additional information about Casting for Recovery or to find out how to support the program, please visit www.castingforrecovery.org or call 1-888-553-3500.