Thankful for Fly Fishing - Casting for Recovery, By Jake Blimline

Continuing with the our “Thankful for Fly Fishing” series, we would like to highlight another great organization, Casting for Recovery.    Casting for Recovery is a Non-Profit organization whose focus is on helping women with breast cancer, through a retreat program focused on fly fishing.


The retreats do center around fly fishing, but that is not all they focus on. They also involve breast cancer education, and building a peer support foundation which are two very important things for someone going through a bout with cancer.

Reaching out to Casting for Recovery, I had the pleasure of talking to Lise Lozelle, Marketing Director for Casting for Recovery.  She gave us some up-to-date info on what all Casting for Recovery is up to this year.  

“The mission of Casting for Recovery is to enhance the quality of life of women with breast cancer through a unique retreat program that combines breast cancer education and peer support with the therapeutic sport of fly fishing. 

This year, Casting for Recovery will host 55 retreats across the country, serving approximately 800 women. To date, 8,000+ women have already attended a CfR retreat. Four of the 55 retreats in 2017 are specialty programs – a retreat exclusively for female disabled veterans and active duty military women with breast cancer in collaboration with Project Healing Waters, a retreat exclusively for Native American women with breast cancer and three retreats exclusively for women with metastatic (Stage IV) advanced breast cancer. “  ~Lise Lozelle

                                         Photo courtesy Casting for Recovery

Now you may ask “why pick fly fishing retreats for women battling and recovering from breast cancer?”   Your initial thought may be that it’s primarily to get those women outdoors, doing something that will take their mind off the things they are battling.  I thought the same thing.  Yes, that is one part… but there are so many more things piled into the equation of the retreats. 

Science is involved in the set up!  Bet you didn’t see that coming did you?  Now you are going to ask, “But Jake, what do you mean science is involved in the Casting for Recovery retreat programs?”  Well let’s all travel back to the beginning. 

Way back to 1996 in the small town of Manchester, Vermont, when Casting for Recovery was founded by a breast reconstruction surgeon who also was a professional fly fisher.  It was noticed that the range of motion that is used for fly casting, is similar to the motion of the exercises prescribed after surgery and radiation treatment, that promote and stimulate soft tissue stretching.  


Along with the physical attributes that fly fishing gives the participants, which is just one slice of the pie, one of the most important parts of the program is building the peer support for participants in the program. Having witnessed first-hand through my mother, I can tell you that peer support is the foundation for recovery.  Finding the support one needs isn’t always easy, a lot of people who have never been through or dealt with breast cancer don’t understand the needs of a woman who is recovering.  So, who better to lend that support, than other women who have gone through it, or are going through it. 

You might be wondering how Casting for Recovery can do this for its retreat participants. Like their mission, Casting for Recover has a multiple part solution to help them provide for the needs of those in the program.  First and foremost are donations, donations from every day people that want to help make a difference in the lives of those that need it.  Second are donations on a corporate level. That can mean everything from financial donations from businesses of any size, or being a corporate sponsor and providing goods and services to the retreat participants and volunteer staff.  Everything from clothing, rods, reels, flies, wading gear and accessories.  


Which brings us to the most important part… Volunteers!  As with every event you need “boots on the ground.”  Casting for Recovery is lucky to have a very devout group of volunteers and the size of that group continues to grow larger and larger!

One cool thing though with Casting for Recovery is that volunteer opportunities are not just teaching fly fishing, for example if you have experience in medical or psychosocial fields, there are specific volunteer opportunities for you too.  Also, volunteers can be used in the fundraising side of things, be it general fund raising or working events to raise money for the organization. 


Of course, the fly-fishing aspect is a great volunteer opportunity, fly casting instructors, fly fishing guides, fly tying instruction, and people who just enjoy being on the water are needed.  You can also get involved in the planning and staffing of the retreats, if that is more your calling!  Casting for Recovery is over 1600 volunteers strong with people that help with every aspect of the CfR program…but there is always room for more! 



Thank you to Lise Lozelle and Casting for Recovery for the quotes and photographs.



Useful Links:

Casting for Recovery website with info on the program and how to get involved:

Casting for Recovery Facebook Page:



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