Casting for Recovery is a retreat focused on giving breast cancer patients and survivors a space for self-care and inner healing. The retreat starts with 14 women from Southern California learning fly fishing, but that is only the beginning.
The retreat may start as a weekend getaway to bring a change of scenery to the women, but as they learn to fly fish, they're also connecting. By the end of the trip, it's about so much more than just catching fish.
Carol Campbell is a breast cancer survivor, and she calls Casting for Recovery "life-changing," saying she didn't expect that kind of impact when she signed up for a retreat about learning fly fishing.
"You can walk into a room and not have to say a word because everybody there knows what you are going through, what you have gone through," said Campbell.
The 2019 breast cancer diagnosis came as a shock to Campbell.
"I really wanted to do something that would take me out of it, out of that diagnosis," said Campbell.
Now cancer-free, Campbell smiles thinking about how much hope just knowing about the retreat brought her in those early days. She says it's a feeling she can't put into words.
The physical, social, and emotional approach of the retreat was effective at helping Campbell to process her experience. She says at first the breakout groups were a bit scary and uncomfortable, but soon they became a safe space to share and begin inner healing.
"You don't have to sit there and be that cancer person. You can get up and be Betty or Jane or Carol. You are not 'oh, that is the person with cancer,'" said Campbell.
Teresa Adams has been a Casting for Recovery fly fishing instructor since the retreat began in 2013. She learned about the retreat from a fellow fly fisher who had breast cancer, inspiring her to get her local club, Kern River Fly Fishers, to support the retreat's efforts.
"They realized that the actual casting stroke and motion is good for healing, especially with the shoulder and muscles being damaged with surgery and radiation," said Adams.
Adams says that over the years, she's seen the impact the retreat has had on the women who participate.
"Some women do not have… their life expectancy is very short when they come to the retreats, and to see them realize that there is still life that they can live is pretty empowering," said Adams.
Campbell says the retreat makes her feel that she is more than her diagnosis because she's surrounded by people who know exactly how she's feeling, calling the experience "life-changing."
But that life-changing experience, which is provided free to the participants who are chosen by lottery from a list of program applicants, still needs to be funded. The retreat can cost up to $20,000, provided to the retreat through donations.
In order to fund the retreat, Casting for Recovery holds regular fundraising events, and the next one is right around the corner. The group will be hosting a fly fishing film festival at the Maya Theatre in Bakersfield on Saturday, March 4, from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
Tickets to the film festival will be $20.00 per person. The event will include a raffle and silent auction, and all of the proceeds will go toward funding future Casting for Recovery retreats.
Campbell hopes people will come to the film festival to show their support for cancer recovery.
"This is such an amazing organization that helps these women through that, and so if they have some time to stop by this weekend, that would be amazing," said Campbell.
Tickets to the Casting for Recovery Fly Fishing Film Festival Fundraiser are available for purchase at ShowClix.
If you would like an application to attend the retreat, please click here.