Are you thinking of joining a support group but perhaps feeling a little shy or insecure? Worried about judgement or awkwardness or circles of chairs that force you to face a bunch of people you’ve never met? Well never fear. We’ve got a solution for you.
Casting for Recovery is an organization that seeks to promote a high quality of life for breast cancer patients through a special kind of retreat program. Their fly fishing retreats combine a fun and relaxing sport with breast cancer education and support from other women with the same disease. Participants get a chance to forge new relationships, get in touch with nature, and find a renewed zest for life they may have lost along the way.
Why fly fishing, you ask? Good question. We were thinking the same thing.
Casting for Recovery was started in 1996 in Manchester, Vermont, by two people: a breast cancer reconstructive surgeon and—you guessed it—a professional fly fisher. Their website describes some of their reasons for picking fly fishing as a core retreat activity:
“On a physical level, the gentle, rhythmic motion of fly casting is similar to exercises often prescribed after surgery or radiation to promote soft tissue stretching. On an emotional level, women are given the opportunity to experience a new activity in a safe environment amongst a supportive group of peers.”
Whatever their reasons, it seems to be working. They currently offer 55 retreats throughout the United States, touching the lives of 800 women each year. 1600 people volunteer with the program, many of whom are alumni of the program. They even have a fishing boat called “The Pink Boat” to help out on retreats.
70% of the women who attend Casting for Recovery retreats have never been to a support group before.
And while Casting for Recovery certainly isn’t your traditional support group, it functions as one in a lot of ways.
We would even speculate that a fly fishing retreat might have more benefits than a normal support group for people who are introverted or don’t like talking about their feelings. Support groups are an amazing way to reduce stress and take care of your brain as you’re battling cancer, but not everybody sees it that way. For those who shy away from traditional support groups, this may be just the thing to do!
And if you don’t get anything else out of it, you’ll at least come home with a new hobby to take your mind off the tough stuff when need be.
Thousands of women have had positive, life-changing experiences on these retreats. Check out the video below to see what people have to say about their time with Casting for Recovery.
You might be inspired to try it for yourself!
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?