Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cancer Patients 'Casting for Recovery' Fly Fishing Used as Therapy for Women

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cancer Patients 'Casting for Recovery' Fly Fishing Used as Therapy for Women

Article excerpt

To fish is to hope.

This is the mission of Casting for Recovery, a nonprofit that works to enhance the quality of life of women with breast cancer through a program that combines breast cancer education and peer support with the therapeutic sport of fly fishing.

Founded in 1996 in Manchester, Vt., by a breast cancer reconstructive surgeon and a professional fly fisher, the organization offers retreats in 37 states at no cost to women at any stage of breast cancer treatment and recovery.

The next retreat is scheduled to take place Aug. 28-30 at HomeWaters in Spruce Creek, Huntingdon County. The deadline for application is June 19. To apply, visit www.castingrecovery.org.

Hope is what Erika Michanowicz of Mount Washington said she needed when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2012. She recalled sitting in her breast surgeon's examination room with her husband, Matt, after learning the news and seeing a brochure for the retreat. Though her husband is an avid fly fisherman, she said she never quite understood the excitement of it, but applied anyway.

She attended the retreat in August 2013 after being declared cancer free in February of that year.

"I remember how scared I was when I first learned I had breast cancer, but by the time I left that weekend, I felt like I can kick this," she said. "You think things are coming to an end, but when you reach out and are around others at a retreat like this, you realize there's so much hope and living yet to do."

Ms. Michanowicz now is a program coordinator and leader alongside her friend, Dizy Kapalka of Butler County, whom she met at the retreat. Ms. Kapalka attended the retreat after her second bout with breast cancer.

She said she now enjoys helping others and said she has tears of joy as she watches women in the program.

The 2-day retreat incorporates both fly fishing instruction and social support and ends with a half day of guided catch-and-release fishing. At least one medical professional, one psychosocial counselor and four fly fishing instructors staff each retreat. …

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