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Casting for Recovery guiding survivors one woman at a time

“Fly-fishing is a metaphor for how we will live our lives after breast cancer: stay focused and aware of what surrounds us, move slowly with grace, and be fully present in what we are doing.”

Photo © Val

— Jane | Casting for Recovery Massachusetts 2007 Retreat Participant

Casting for Recovery gives women powerful tools to overcome the challenges of breast cancer. It began as a simple idea: give women a therapeutic technique to speed their recovery by exercising the soft muscle tissue damaged by radiation and/or surgery. Combine this with counseling and education provided by trained professionals, all in a retreat setting away from the stresses of home, work, and family. While other breast cancer programs pursued research, Casting for Recovery, knowing that survivors had few resources to address the medical and emotional issues they experienced at home and in their workplace, decided to focus on the road to recovery. A two-and-a-half day retreat combining fly-fishing, counseling, and medical information made for a powerful program. Women who participated in these retreats discovered they could learn a fun and exciting new activity in a setting where they could express their fears, have their questions answered, and call on the experiences of others making the same journey.

Photo Š Susan Gaetz

From a modest start in 1996, Casting for Recovery now provides a national network of retreats. We have also inspired programs in Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom/Ireland.

are surviving—but are forever changed by their encounter with the disease. Every woman who experiences a Casting for Recovery retreat learns that while fishing is on the agenda, gaining skills to cope with the diagnosis of breast cancer is the underlying focus.

We empower women to cope with their illness by teaching therapeutic skills in a supportive setting. Each of the women who participates finds access to a network of survivors who share her concerns and offer valuable perspectives, to volunteers and caregivers who provide guidance and support, and most importantly, finds a new sense of possibility for a life touched by cancer. Casting for Recovery’s mission makes a real difference in the lives of breast cancer survivors—one woman at a time.


he rhythmic motion of fly-casting learned in a

Casting for Recovery retreat provides an ideal physical therapy for exercising the joints and soft tissues affected by breast surgery. Qualified volunteer instructors,

assisted by trained medical and counseling professionals, provide the one-on-one support that helps survivors break through barriers to recovery.

Photo © Doug Berry /

Each day more than 500 women are diagnosed with breast cancer. Thanks to advances in treatment, women

“What we were able to share was invaluable. We were from all walks of life, but a common denominator–breast cancer–put us on equal ground. We are all looking forward to long healthy lives and will fight any fight to get there. Thank you for bringing us together.” — Linda | Virginia 2006 Retreat Participant Photo © Brian O’Keefe

the fact that nothing will be the same—and that beyond treatment there are still challenges to face. Not only the challenges of balancing work, home, and continued treatment, but of coming to terms with changes in her body and in her relationships with others in her life.

Away from the pressures of their homes and illness, survivors discover possibilities within themselves. Women need a safe haven where they can explore these concerns while they learn a new skill that offers gentle and therapeutic physical and mental benefits, and where they can bond with other women in similar circumstances. During this brief respite—in a setting that is safe and welcoming—they have an opportunity to overcome feelings of helplessness, to learn to take care of themselves, and to reflect on the value of their own experience and how it might help other women in the same situation.


astering a new skill, helped by those who

want you to have fun, and feeling the support of a group that begins as strangers and evolves into an ongoing community of friends is “life-changing”

in itself, as many survivors attest. At CFR retreats, survivors learn that “to fish is to hope.”

Photo © Kim Singer

A diagnosis of breast cancer has a life-changing impact. A woman undergoing the experience must address

Photo © Fred Stevens

Each volunteer knows that they’re making a difference in women’s lives, one woman at a time. Composed of physicians and other medical professionals, counselors, fly-fishing instructors, program alumnae, and women and men from all walks of life, our volunteer base is a growing circle of 1,500 people.

Across the country, Casting for Recovery is powered by a vast network of volunteers. We attract and retain volunteers because they understand our goals and share our belief that health and wellness is a key to recovering from cancer. Our goal ―to help women focus on wellness instead of illness and on empowerment as opposed to helplessness― is not only understandable, but achievable. It’s made


possible through the means of a fun experience guided by caring people who help manage a course of

asting for Recovery‘s success is based on

personal discovery and learning.

its volunteers—a grass-roots community which

As eyewitnesses to the impact we make, our volunteers are also advocates

includes many past participants. Whether they

for women’s breast health every day. By touching these women’s lives, and

are a breast cancer survivor or someone whose life has been touched by the disease, each volunteer has a personal commitment to our mission. It is always inspirational for volunteers to see the excitement and joys of these women who are in recovery from breast cancer.

speaking about their experience, they create a ripple of understanding and knowledge that spreads out further into the community.

Casting for Recovery experience. They understand that the retreat isn’t about the fishing, but about the physical and counseling techniques that help each of them create bonds, absorb life lessons, and cultivate hope: as one participant said, “Hope is what Casting for Recovery is all about.”

At retreats, survivors find a support network of new friends sharing the same experiences. Seeing other women at different stages of the journey, understanding the challenges and joys that other women in similar ―and in totally different circumstances― are experiencing, visualizing outcomes beyond fear—this is what makes the effect so powerful.


oo often women have had to fit radiation,

chemotherapy, reconstructive surgery, and endless medical appointments into the narrow interstices between the demands of households, partners, children and jobs. But at Casting for Recovery retreats they are able to relax and focus on themselves and their path to recovery.

Photo © Susan Gaetz

Women at any age and at any stage of treatment and recovery from breast cancer can benefit from the

“When I was diagnosed, I put all my energy into my treatment. The thing I never considered was a support group. What I learned on your retreat is how important it is to have people in my life who are breast cancer survivors. The retreat reminded me of how much courage we all have—and how blessed I am. Thanks for creating the space for this to happen.”

— Maggie | California 2008 Retreat Participant

Photo Š Beck Photography

life and engaging in the full range of possible activities. Physicians and breast center personnel recommend the Casting for Recovery program to women because they know that it helps provide the tools needed for moving forward to a healthier life. As evidence, close to 40% of our referrals come from the medical community.

Women emerge from retreats energized and recognizing the possibilities ahead of them. Each woman, participating at her own comfort level, finds new strength, new joy, and new confidence and


leaves the retreat with a belief in her ability to master the challenges ahead. Women leave with the ability to go beyond fear, to reach out to grasp possibilities and make connections. The Casting for Recovery program has generated a wide circle of survivors whose new-found understanding and enthusiasm creates ripples outward in their communities, among their friends, families and co-workers, helping improve the quality of their lives.

he experience at a Casting for Recovery

weekend is one of empowerment. Knowing little about fly-fishing, women learn all the basics, but more than that, there is a spirit of trust and sharing that cannot be put into words. Trusting someone to teach you to fly-fish is a true gift; trusting someone to understand your darkest moments and fear of breast cancer is far beyond that.

Photo Š Kim Singer

The issue of breast cancer today isn’t as much about survival, but about managing a diagnosis while pursuing

Photo Š Kim Singer

Quality of life is our focus. And Casting for Recovery has met the challenge. Since 1996 we’ve helped over 3,500 women reach toward hope and healing. Yet the need continues to grow. Women come to us every day to ask about attending a retreat, volunteer groups inquire about bringing the Casting for Recovery program to their communities, and we desperately need the capacity to help them.

Fly-fishing may appear to be the topic of the day, but helping survivors is the underlying focus of all we do. At each Casting for Recovery retreat, every participant is asked to toss a stone into the water to help her release fears or worries. The ripples from all the stones join together into one giant swell of support. The healing ripples of Casting for Recovery can only spread with help from you.


ffering instruction and information in a setting

that helps lessen isolation, providing a recreational activity with both physical and emotional benefits, helping participants optimistically go forward with their lives with new knowledge and new friends: that is the power of Casting for Recovery.

“The spirit of Casting for Recovery can be seen in the rise of a large trout in a quiet pool. It glides below the surface, yet its power and energy sends out ripples across the water. The ripple effect from Casting for Recovery has touched many thousands of lives.” — Tom Hayes | CFR Board of Trustees

Photo © Val

Casting for Recovery 3738 Main Street Manchester, Vermont 05254 888.553.3500

please look inside for more information

Dear friend, You need only listen to one woman’s story of how her life was changed by attending a Casting for Recovery retreat to know why we became the national sponsor of this extraordinary organization three years ago. To see a woman’s strength, confidence and hope restored after breast cancer surgery is profoundly moving. To be a part of this process of renewal is a privilege. We believe that it is our place to help people protect themselves and their loved ones so that they can live life to its fullest. That’s why Casting for Recovery’s mission resonates so strongly with us. It gives women the physical and emotional tools they need to start over and to continue on with their lives. It restores their hope and confidence. It gives them a sense of peace where there was angst. It helps them focus their attention on what they are able to do instead of what they cannot control. In some instances, it even saves marriages and restores families. In its own quiet way, Casting for Recovery has changed the lives of thousands of women and those who love them. With your help, we can both continue its mission and begin to close the gap between those who want our help and those for whom we have space. Sincerely,

Connie Weaver Senior Vice President |The Hartford

Casting for Recovery’s Model

Why Casting for Recovery?

A Highly Effective Program Structure

We make a difference

> A 2 ½ day retreat hosting 14 participants, the maximum amount recommended for small group dynamics as well as to achieve educational and psychosocial benefits. > Fly-fishing is the means used to address the underlying issues surrounding recovery. Participants are offered formal instruction in the basics of fly casting, environmental issues, catch-and-release fly fishing, entomology, and knot tying skills. > Participants are provided with psychosocial events as well as medical education, guided by trained facilitators, which focus on helping participants to open up and explore their own recovery process. Five simple program goals > To provide each participant with a respite from familiar surroundings and routines in a natural setting where well-being can flourish. > To provide an experience that will lessen isolation and promote problem-solving and coping skills with others who have had similar experiences. > To provide a method to gain self-esteem, network, make new friends and learn a new skill as a commitment to their future. > To focus on wellness as opposed to illness and empowerment as opposed to helplessness.

one survivor at a time

> To provide a forum to broaden understanding about breast treatment using educational resources, and to enable sharing among participants. To educate and encourage learning about treatment and access to care offered by programs in the community. A positive impact with proven results Post-retreat participant evaluations indicate the degree to which our program has a positive result on women’s lives: > 100% would recommend the program to other women > 95% felt connected with the other participants > 90% said they feel more aware and accepting of themselves > 90% said they feel better able to cope with their situation > 94% said they gained a new support base with new friends > 92% said they learned something new about living with breast cancer

Our goal is helping one survivor at a time. Fly-fishing is on the agenda but support for the journey of breast cancer recovery is our underlying focus. We focus on wellness instead of illness

Support groups, whether at a hospital or breast center, provide a wonderful first-line resource but are often viewed as a setting that focuses on the disease—and not on recovery. Casting for Recovery’s welcoming environment, free of the constraints of treatment, family responsibility, and financial concerns, helps women open up to taking charge of their own wellness. We focus on quality of life issues The retreat program is designed to help women participate at their own pace, take time to care for themselves, engage in self-exploration and the mastery of new skills—helpful tools as women return to the demands of their day-to-day lives. Casting for Recovery truly deserves its description as “life-changing”. We expand support and create new opportunities for survivors

Whether women are undergoing treatment, or are ten years beyond it, participants find that they share a common bond, can help each other address issues that arise-post treatment, and share an inspiration that often goes beyond what is available to them in their day-to-day lives.

We have not only a community focus, but community support Our grass roots-based efforts bring our success story of wellness and recovery to a wider world. Thousands of past participants and active volunteers carry our message of empowerment into their everyday activities. The passion that CFR inspires creates a ripple effect that quickly spreads outward and gains further support for the program. We are a powerful force for breast health advocacy

Casting for Recovery’s volunteers and past participants are also powerful catalysts for breast health awareness and advocacy. As we grow in our ability to serve women, and spread the message of hope and recovery through the program and through the personal change it inspires, our ability to effect wider change will only increase. The increasing need demands increased capacity

More and more women who are surviving breast cancer are turning to Casting for Recovery for help in getting on with their lives. For every woman who goes to a retreat, three more inquire about attending. We need to meet the demand – and with your help, the Ripple Effect of Casting for Recovery will expand.

A Plan for Growth

Thanks to our Supporters

Current Service Areas and Expansion Plans

Our Leading National Sponsors

The Hartford is a Fortune 100 company, one of the nation’s largest financial services and insurance companies and a leading provider of investment products, life insurance and group benefits; automobile and homeowners products, and business property and casualty insurance.

Casting for Recovery conducted six retreats in 1999. In the decade since then, we’ve expanded into twenty-seven states and increased the number of retreat programs offered by sevenfold. While it is a record to be proud of, we know that there are many women who are waiting for our program—and many areas we still need to serve.

This map shows current programs, and expansion areas, for 2010-2011.

Casting for Recovery also recognizes and thanks the national sponsors:


Current Programs




Meeting the Need: Our Goal

Casting for Recovery: International Reach with a Grass Roots Focus

Casting for Recovery has set a goal to raise $900,000 to meet the demand for our program. This is an ambitious yet realistic goal, and we are confident of our ability to meet it.

A national 501(c)(3) organization based in Manchester, Vermont, Casting for Recovery has inspired sister Casting for Recovery programs in Canada, the U.K./Ireland, and New Zealand as well as other organizations who follow our model of fly-fishing to serve wounded veterans and men with cancer.


Volunteer training and support: $260,000 Ongoing program support: $640,000

A small staff in the home office oversees financial, promotional, and registration processes; coordinates and manages participant information; and develops, trains, and manages the volunteer base. Over 80% of every dollar raised goes directly to programs. Casting for Recovery relies on the advice of a national board of trustees and celebrates the power of our volunteers by engaging a Volunteer Leadership Council to provide continual feedback from the field. Promoting Catch-and-Release Fishing At Casting for Recovery retreats, participants are taught the principles of Catch and Release fishing. Care and respect for the natural environment is an integral part of our approach.

Brookdale Senior Living |West Division—whose mission of enriching the lives of those they serve with compassion, respect, excellence and integrity is the source of their strong support of Casting for Recovery. The Orvis Company—whose initial and long-time financial support designates them as our founding sponsor. Under Armour—whose “Power In Pink” program recognizes Casting for Recovery’s ability to help women move beyond the experience of breast cancer with new skills and new hope. Temple Fork Outfitters/Springbrook Trading Co.­— whose donations since 2007 have helped us add new retreat programs in unserved areas. American Laundromat Records—proceeds from their Cinnamon Girl collection of Neil Young songs —inspired by the experience of a program participant—has helped fund ongoing volunteer training. Baseline Consulting Group—whose choice of Casting for Recovery as a “Charities We Love” recipient helped us expand in the west. We also honor all of the individuals, organizations, foundations, and companies who have supported Casting for Recovery both nationally and in their communities. The printing of this brochure was made possible by the Walter V. and Judith L. Shipley Family Foundation. Printed on paper made from 100% post-consumer recycled waste using 100% wind energy. This is Mohawk Options, 100% PC White, Vellum, 100 text.

Indicates page trim. Does not print.

Our plan for growth includes identifying need areas, training volunteer teams to conduct programs, and developing general and community support for sustainable delivery.

Cover Photo © Kim Singer

“T O

F I S H I S T O H O P E”

Casting for Recovery |3738 Main Street |Manchester, Vermont 05254 | 888.553.3500 | |Printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper

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Casting for Recovery  

Capital campaign case study for national non-profit serving breast cancer survivors.

Casting for Recovery  

Capital campaign case study for national non-profit serving breast cancer survivors.