Cancer – just hearing that word when diagnosed can make you feel so isolated, like you’ve been singled out by the disease. But there are many support groups and organization available for female cancer survivors, one of which is Casting for Recovery. They are an amazing organization focused on improving the quality of life for cancer survivors. Throughout the year, Casting for Recovery holds fly-fishing retreats in Wyoming for cancer survivors who’ve undergone the same aggressive medical treatments, including double mastectomies and chemotherapy.
After cancer treatments, muscles can often times become much weaker than they were before. Fly-fishing offers a specific motion of casting that helps exercise some of these muscles that can become weaker.
“It is so hard to explain how peaceful it is to just have the motion of casting a fly rod,” said Tonia Hanson, 52 and a breast cancer survivor. “It was the first time I haven’t thought about what happened to me.”
Casting for Recovery offers so much more than just a fly-fishing retreat. You are surrounded by a group of women who have battled cancer and can relate to what you’ve been through. There are lifetime friendships made with others and a sense of healing and letting go by the end of the retreat. The women have felt that fly-fishing offers a way of casting aside the pain of their cancer treatment.
“They know what you feel so you don’t have to explain,” Tonia Hanson said. “It’s an awesome feeling.”
Kristin Kelly, a 42-year-old who was battling stage three cancer, says her treatment was grueling and had the “toughest radiation” in her words. “It was a very lonely process and I felt no one understood what I was going through,” she said.
“When you catch it and you let it go, that visual of just letting it go is always hard for me to do,” Kelly said. “It’s hard to let go of a bad year.”
“A great majority of the women who attend Casting For Recovery have never attended any sort of conventional support group for their cancer,” said Executive Director Whitney Milhoan. “And so it tells us that this unconventional approach to healing is really meeting a need.”
Some of the women feel that the fly-fishing retreats offer a way to regain a semblance of feeling like yourself again — before the cancer. They have the opportunity to learn how to live again, without being consumed by cancer and feeling isolated.
“This is life,” Tonia Hanson said. “I’m doing more of it.”
Learn more about this story at NBC News.
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