How Fishing Helps Breast Cancer Patients Heal

By Stephanie Vatalaro

Nov 20, 2018

Learn how fly fishing has been part of many cancer patients therapy and healing. Read their inspiring stories and more about how fishing has changed their lives.

Americans focus a lot of time and attention on breast cancer during its October awareness month, but it’s a new daily reality for an estimated 266,120 women each year. Why are we talking about breast cancer on a fishing blog? Many studies show that fishing can be relaxing – even meditative – providing a multitude of health benefits to its participants. That’s what Casting for Recovery (CfR) co-founders Gwenn Perkins Bogart, a fly fisher, and Dr. Benita Walton, a breast reconstructive surgeon, were counting on when they founded their non-profit in 1996 to improve the quality of life for women with breast cancer.


Why Fly Fishing and Breast Cancer?

Our healing program is unique! We are connecting women with nature and each other. For women who have had surgery or radiation as part of their breast cancer treatment, the gentle motion of fly casting can be good physical therapy for increased mobility in the arm and upper body. Couple that with the emotional benefits of connecting with nature, and you’ve got powerful medicine. CfR retreats are unconventional and described by many women as life-changing.” Whitney Milhoan, CfR Executive Director

I’m sure you’ve heard some incredibly inspiring stories of recovery and perseverance over the years. Is there one that stands out to you?

Inspiring Stories

Over the years I have met so many amazing, inspirational women. Knowing that over 70% of the participants at a CfR retreat have never been to a support group, the stories of women that come to a retreat and haven’t told anyone that they have breast cancer except their oncology team, really stick with me. And I love that the retreat experience gives them the confidence to be open and share their stories.” Lise Lozelle, CfR Marketing Director

In your opinion, what are the other health benefits of fishing – even for those who don’t have cancer? “Being out on the water, fishing allows you to disconnect from the demands of daily life and reconnect with nature. The only thing you need to focus on is casting your line, it keeps life simple and grounded.” Susan Gaetz, CfR National Program Director


Getting Involved

CfRs two-and-a-half day retreats serve women of all ages, in all stages of breast cancer treatment and recovery, at no cost to participants. And 100% of attendees would recommend the program to others.

Learn more about these #WomenMakingWaves and how to get a fishing license. Find more information on how to get involved on the Casting for Recovery website.

Stephanie Vatalaro
Stephanie Vatalaro
Stephanie Vatalaro is vice president of communications for the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation and its Take Me Fishing and Vamos A Pescar campaigns where she works to recruit newcomers to recreational fishing and boating and increase awareness of aquatic conservation. Stephanie grew up in the Florida Keys as the daughter of a flats fishing guide. Outside of work, you can find her fishing and boating with her family on the Potomac River in the Northern Neck of Virginia.