Underwriting provided by:
The Laura Moore Cunningham
Foundation

Casting for Recovery

Casting for Recovery quilt piece
Casting for Recovery quilt piece

Casting for Recovery, which provides retreats free of charge to women with breast cancer, was founded in 1996 in Vermont by a fly fishing professional and a breast cancer surgeon. The program had its first retreat in Idaho in 2007.

CFR programs are based on the therapeutic qualities of fly fishing, which not only provides solace, but also helps women who've had breast cancer surgery rehabilitate.

Participant Barbara Machenheimer and Dr. Shauna Williams of Reel Recovery
Participant Barbara Machenheimer and Dr. Shauna Williams of Reel Recovery

"Both the surgery and the radiation can actually cause contractures or stiffening of the tissues," says Dr. Shauna Williams, a surgeon who is also an avid fly fisher. "So the fly casting motion actually will help stretch the tissue and exercise it."

In Idaho, there are two retreats-in Challis at the Living Waters Ranch, and in northern Idaho at the Shoshone Creek Ranch. Participants are chosen randomly from applications sent in. The Outdoor Idaho piece featured the retreat in Challis.

Former participant Nicole Cassity at a Casting for Recovery spiritual gathering [Credit: Ceci Bennett]
Former participant Nicole Cassity at a Casting for Recovery spiritual gathering
[Credit: Ceci Bennett]

"It is such a peaceful, peaceful setting," says participant Connie Howell. "You kind of reconnect with your inner self and know that life goes on and you will survive and there is beauty in the world even though you are sad and hurting."

"It is an opportunity to get them away from the hustle and bustle of their everyday life," says Gail Baird, a cancer survivor and leader of the group. "They can focus on themselves. So many times women forget to take care of themselves. They take care of everybody around them, but not themselves."

Nicole Cassity is a former attendee who was so impressed with the program that she now volunteers with the group.

Participant Trina Murri with one of her many catches
Participant Trina Murri with one of her many catches

"When you get diagnosed, you're lost," says Cassity. "You are taken away to this beautiful ranch. It's out in the middle of nowhere, really, and you are one with nature. You get to really quiet your mind. I think I found my new self up there."

Casting for Recovery therapy session
[Credit: Ceci Bennett]
Casting for Recovery therapy session
[Credit: Ceci Bennett]

Group therapy sessions are an important part of each retreat. In them, the women provide support to each other, and receive advice from health professionals about living with cancer.

"It's an instant understanding," says cancer survivor and participant Trina Murri. "It's an instant bond, it's an instant sisterhood. I've adopted new warrior sisters."