Casting for Recovery
Cool water swirled around Donna Fischer’s hip-waders as she cast her line under the Arizona sky. Her eyes were wide, and her mouth open in laughter; a photographer clicked a photo and captured the moment.
Donna still has that photo. She keeps it as a reminder of that weekend back in 2006, when she experienced pure joy through fly-fishing with 13 other amazing women she now calls friends. Yet there’s something the image doesn’t show: the seven long months she spent undergoing surgery, radiation and chemotherapy after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
Donna, now cancer-free (cautiously) for over five years, was a survivor participant with Casting for Recovery, a national nonprofit organization based in Manchester, Vermont, that has been running fly-fishing retreats for women who have or have had breast cancer.
Founded in 1996, Casting for Recovery is the unique brainchild of a breast cancer reconstructive surgeon and a professional fly-fisher. What began as a local, grassroots effort to empower cancer patients and survivors has since gone national—and beyond. The organization now offers 43 programs in 30 U.S. states and has inspired similar programs in Canada, New Zealand and the U.K.
Donna says Casting for Recovery changed her life. Since her retreat weekend, Donna and her family continue to raise over $1,000 each year (enough to fulfill her promise to send one woman to the retreat annually). Donna also took on the responsibility of Arizona program coordinator.