Lize Lozelle, Marketing Director for Casting for Recovery, joined us on the podcast this week. Casting for Recovery is a national nonprofit organization providing fly fishing retreats for women diagnosed with breast cancer. Women of all ages and stages of diagnosis are welcome to apply. She shares the history of the organization, how to apply, and insight on the retreats. She also talks about how individuals can volunteer their time or even donate money to support the organization and retreats.
Marketing Director of Casting for Recovery, Lize Lozelle, joined us on the podcast. Casting for Recovery is a national nonprofit organization founded in 1996 in Vermont by a professional fly fishing angler and plastic surgeon. The organization provides outdoor healing experiences for women with breast cancer who are of any age or at any stage of treatment or recovery at no cost to participants. No experience is required.
Casting for recovery serves women from all 50 states. There are program in 45 states. There is an open border policy so that if a retreat is not offered in a particular state, a participant can attend a retreat in the state closest to her. The organizational keeps it regionally focused with the hope that the women will continue to get together and maybe even fly fish long after the program. In 2019, there were 57 retreats in 45 states and over 800 women were served. There have been over 10,000 women served since the inception of the program.
Participants apply through the website at CastingforRecovery.org under the “Find a Retreat” tab. Retreats are divided by state. Fourteen women are picked at random based on a lottery system. Individuals are informed if they are selected for a retreat or if they are an alternate. Additional paperwork is required from the individual’s medical team to be sure that she can participate in the retreat.
Retreats are available from March through November. The retreat runs from Friday through Sunday. On Friday night, women have a dinner together. Saturday includes different talks, classes, and some free time. Some of the sessions include the basics of fly fishing. There is always a medical discussion run by the health and wellness team, which includes a medical professional and a mental health professional. This provides a very safe and open space for discussion. On Saturday evening, participants attend evening circle, which is a closed door activity facilitated by the medical professional and the mental health professional. This is a really powerful session that many women enjoy. On Sunday, participants fly fish with their own fly fishing guide.
Venues vary based on location. In general, fishing is on the river at a state park or a national park. Sometimes, it may be at a lake or on private water. A lodge or camp is preferred but some retreats including lodging at a hotel. Each participant has a roommate but everyone has their own bed. No matter where the retreat is held, they strive to make it like hotel-style lodging with good amenities. Participants are provided with healthy food and snacks throughout the weekend. Some venues have an onsite chef and others may have food brought into the venue. Some things may vary by site but the nuts and bolts of the program remain the same.
Lize indicated that many women experience a transformation during their time at the retreat. Some women are nervous to attend a retreat where they may not know anyone but connections are made quickly. Some of the women that attend have never been to a traditional support group and there are some women that have not shared their diagnosis with anyone.
The program has really evolved over the years and they now provide a retreat specific to stage 4 breast cancer survivors based on feedback provided. Women who are diagnosed with stage 4 cancer felt as though they could not share as much as they had wanted because of the difference in experience from other participants. They organization has also done a pilot program in Wyoming for young women under the age of 40. Given the small staff, it provides the opportunity to make adjustments and run pilot programs with the goal of serving women with breast cancer they best they can.
The organization is run by 11 individuals nationally. The retreats are supported by the fly fishing community with over 1800 volunteers including medical professional, fly fishers, and even past participants. The organization is fueled by volunteers and monetary donations. Individuals interested in volunteering can apply through the website. Monetary donations are also accepted through the website.