Two weeks ago, I went to a wonderful retreat called Casting For Recovery, in Lake Mary Florida. I had a wonderful time and met 12 wonderful participants, nine fantastic volunteers and 7 wonderful boat captains.
The premise of the retreat is to get 14 women together who have never met before but have a common experience of breast cancer. To take 2.5 days to connect the participants through an activity of fly fishing. Fly fishing has been found to be a very therapeutic activity for women who have undergone breast surgery and have mastectomies or the loss of lymph nodes. The movement of casting the fly back and forth is very good for moving lymph and freeing up muscles and range of motion.
There are times spent in education about fly fishing, the equipment, the technique. There were times to practice and work on the methods that we were being taught. We also learned to tie our own flies.
There are also times spent in communion with one another. Times of intimacy and sharing. There were tears and there were cheers. We were bound close to one another and genuinely came to care for each one there. It was a time to reveal our true selves, what we hope for and also, what we fear. It was beautiful.
There were gifts, laughter and stuffed animals. There was time at night when we would sit and sip wine and laugh and share some more.
Finally on Monday morning we got up very early and packed our bags and met the Boat guides on the St. John’s river in order to actually practice what we learned and to catch fish. My captain was a gentleman named Greg. He was a successful businessman in his own rite and took time from his schedule for the past 7 years to come out and do this retreat.
They paired 2 women per boat and paired us by ability and desire to fish. They put a woman named Michele in the boat with me because we both wanted to really fish. Some ladies are more interested in a boat ride but not Michele and I. We wanted to CATCH FISH. So, Greg told us when we got in the boat that he had been able to put Casting For Recovery Ladies on fish EVERY year since he started. So……NO PRESSURE!! He kept taking us to different areas of the river that he thought were good potential and telling us where to cast to. He was also trying to get us out of the wind so we could cast well. He supplied the rods and opened a case for us to pick a fly. The day before we learned that some flies cost hundreds of dollars so when he showed me his selection, I was reluctant to use his flies because I did not know which one were disposable. I then presented the fly that I had tied and asked if I could fish with it. He thought my fly looked good and said of course. Well, much to my surprise, after about an hour I caught a fish using my fly and I had about 3 more strikes.
Catching a fish was just the icing on an already delicious cake!! I was very happy. The media was also out there with us so I believe in May there will be a lengthy feature story on the retreat which I will post here later. It was an incredible retreat, I highly recommend for anyone who has gone through breast cancer. There are affiliates all over the US, so check online and apply. It is well worth the investment of time. I feel very blessed to have been able to participate. In the photo above the yellow fly on the stuffed alligator is the one I tied.