For this installment of “Organization of the Month,” we are highlighting Casting For Recovery. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women worldwide and claims hundreds of thousands of lives annually. In 2020 alone, estimates expect 276,480 new cases of breast cancer in women in the United States. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we wanted to learn more about this amazing group that provides therapeutic outdoor retreats to women with breast cancer at no cost. Follow along as we ask Casting for Recovery some questions!
Flylords: What spurred Casting for Recovery?
CfR: Casting for Recovery (CfR), a national 501(c)(3) was founded in 1996 in Manchester, Vermont, by a group of women we call the “founding sisters,” which included a breast reconstruction surgeon and a professional fly fisher. Our founders experienced the healing power of nature through fly fishing and thought that connection would benefit women with breast cancer. Almost 25 years later, what started with one retreat has now grown to 55 retreats nationwide, run by an army of over 1800 volunteers and a hard working full-time national staff of ten. Casting for Recovery’s innovative program focuses on improving quality of life for women with breast cancer and has garnered endorsements from medical and psychosocial experts nationwide. The retreats are open to women of any age, in any stage of breast cancer treatment and recovery, at no cost to the participants.
Flylords: Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer. I’d even venture to say everyone reading this has a friend or loved one diagnosed with breast cancer. How does breast cancer affect women in American—and the world?
CfR: Women have a 1 in 8 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer at some point during their lifetime. In the United States, 250K women are diagnosed every year and 2.3 million are living with breast cancer. Research shows that many women with breast cancer experience enough significant symptoms to be also diagnosed with PTSD. We all know these women or will know them… Breast cancer impacts us all, our mothers, sisters, wives, partners and pals!
Flylords: So, how can fly fishing help those going through recovery?
CfR: Casting for Recovery provides women with breast cancer the opportunity to find inspiration, discover a renewed energy for life and experience healing connections with other women and nature + learn something new, fly fishing! CfR’s healing program is unique! For women who have had surgery or radiation as part of their breast cancer treatment, the gentle motion of fly casting can be good physical therapy for increasing mobility in the arm and upper body. Couple that with the emotional benefits of connecting with nature, and you’ve got powerful medicine. Our retreats are unconventional and described by many women as life-changing.
Flylords: Tell us about a Casting for Recovery hosted retreat?
CfR: The two-and-a-half day retreats are 100% free for participants. Retreats incorporate fly fishing instruction and emotional support, ending with a half day of guided catch-and-release fly fishing. Our program is committed to ethnic, socioeconomic and cultural diversity. Participants range in age from 23 to 90+! Casting for Recovery is open to women in all stages of breast cancer treatment and recovery.
Flylords: How many women have benefited from a CfR retreat?
CfR: Casting for Recovery has served over 10,000 women! It’s a big number but, there is still so much more work to do. Next year is our 25th anniversary, and we hope to serve at least 10,000 more women over the next quarter century!