Casting for Recovery: on-the-water cancer activism

“You have breast cancer.” Quite possibly, this is the most devastating statement a woman will ever hear. The moment the words register, fear and despair begin to pull on heartstrings. Staying positive is a struggle. Thanks to Casting for Recovery (CFR), some women are finding strength through fly-fishing.

Casting for Recovery is a national non-profit fly fishing program for women who have or have had breast cancer. The mission of CFR is to offer support and education, while providing an avenue for social interaction. To date, thousands of women have gathered together and found much-needed relief from their battle with breast cancer at CFR retreats all across the country.

Anyone who has ever been touched by cancer understands how this devastating disease can turn your world upside down. Chances are, you know a woman who is fighting, or has survived, breast cancer. You’ve witnessed her pain, while admiring her strength. You wish there was some way for you to understand what she’s going through, but that’s a road you have walk to truly grasp the struggle. Which is why Casting for Recovery is so powerful. These women understand each others’ emotions. They feel for one another a sense of camaraderie unattainable by those outside the circle.

Many women who come to Casting for Recovery events have never fly fished before, and don’t know what to expect. I often compare fly-fishing to golf. The first time you “play” you’re likely not going to be good. But hopefully, you’ll have enough fun to play again and again, and again. During each experience, you progress a little more. Before you know it, you’re setting new goals and trying to master advanced techniques.

Don’t worry about being good, because in the true spirit of sporting life, if you approach each day with an open mind and an appreciation for just being out-of-doors, there is no way to you can fail. Through fly fishing, the women of CFR find an enjoyable challenge to focus on, as opposed to their on-going struggle.

Deb Hire was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997. A survivor who’s now in full remission, Deb is dedicated to helping other women fight their battles against breast cancer.

“I attended my first CFR retreat in 2006,” she said. “I had been fishing my whole life, but I had never fly-fished before. Now you can hardly get me and my fly rod off the water.”

Deb found a lot of support and comfort in the women she met at CFR, many of whom have become some of her best friends.

“We are like sisters,” she said. “It’s such a healing experience to spend time relaxing and reflecting with other women who truly understand what you’re going through.”

To offer a great time with no added stress, CFR retreats are free to participants.

Funding is a problem though. Thanks to generous support from manufactures, like Temple Fork Outfitters who produces a special CFR fly rod, the program is growing at a rapid pace.

If you’re a woman who has been touched by breast cancer, or you’re simply someone who’d like to get involved with Casting for Recovery in a supporting manner, log on to the CFR website,

See you down the trail …