Dime in Time

Casting for Recovery: Healing, One Cast at a Time

By Peg Kingery, Volunteer for Casting for Recovery, North Idaho/Eastern Washington

Many of our Co-op shoppers have seen me working in the grocery department over the years, most recently as the wine buyer. When I’m not stocking shelves or organizing wine tastings, I can often be found thigh-deep in a river somewhere with a fly rod in my hand. When I first stepped into a stream, I felt the healing energy of the water; when I released the first fish I caught on a fly, I felt a depth of awe that brought much in my life in proper, humbling perspective.

Five years ago, my female fishing buddies and I were gathered for a potluck after a day on a river. One of us mentioned an organization called Casting for Recovery, a national non-profit that sponsors free fly fishing retreats for women recovering from or survivors of breast cancer. It was founded by a professional fly fisher and a breast reconstructive surgeon. What’s the connection between fly fishing and breast cancer? The motion of fly casting is similar to exercises that surgeons prescribe after surgery or radiation, which promotes soft tissue stretching.

A retreat is held every year in southern Idaho. All of us understood the peace that comes from fly fishing, so we decided to pursue forming another group in northern Idaho and eastern Washington to reach the women of our home area.

Our team of women (and men) from the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley, Moscow, and the Coeur d’Alene-Spokane area received acceptance as a new group from the national office in May, 2011. Each 2-1/2 day retreat incorporates both fly fishing instruction and emotional support in a safe environment. While fly fishing is a focus, the weekend also includes sessions with a medical professional and a psychological/social counselor. Women of any age; cultural or socioeconomic background; and stage of treatment or recovery from breast cancer are eligible to attend. Women who come to the retreat only pay their transportation costs; housing, food, and all fishing equipment are provided at no cost. Each group is responsible for raising the money needed to fund their retreat, approximately $15,000, relying completely on donations from individuals or corporations, grants, and fund raisers.

We’ve held five retreats since that potluck meal, three on the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River and two at Flying B Ranch in Kamiah. At each of our retreats, healing happened. New friends were made. The women were nurtured by both the natural beauty around them and each other. And they learned how to fly fish! Each time I’ve stood on the riverbank watching the women use the skills they learned to make that perfect cast to a rising fish, I, too, have been forever changed—humbled by the courage, strength, and joyful outlook on life the women possess.

Moneys from A Dime in Time will help us fund our next retreat in June, 2017. I’m already anticipating the shriek from one of the women when she hooks up her first trout!