A River Runs Through It

| July 13, 2011
Deloris Cummings instructed Angela Pezzarossi on casting.

Deloris Cummings instructed Angela Pezzarossi on casting.

A group of about 20 women gathered around the scenic pond behind Ann Shurmacher’s home to learn about fly-fishing and escape the daily stress of life last Saturday. But these women were not just attending fly-fishing class in hopes of catching the bluegill and bass swimming beneath the water. They were there to help support the fight against breast cancer.

Dr. Anna Perry and Dr. Martin Segal, of Advanced Dental Care, sponsored the five-hour fly-fishing class taught by female instructors. The class was $125 per person, and all proceeds were donated to Casting for Recovery, a national nonprofit organization that offers fly-fishing retreats for women who have or have had breast cancer.

“Fly fishing is calmer, it’s slower and it’s very peaceful,” said Deloris Cummings, one of the fly-fishing instructors. “It’s almost like a form of meditation – a way for me to lose myself in the fishing. It takes a lot of concentration, it’s physically challenging, it’s mentally challenging and it just kind of soothes your soul.”

Jane Conrad teaches the women about fly selection.

Jane Conrad teaches the women about fly selection.

The serene art of fly-fishing is especially beneficial to women who have battled breast cancer. As Candy Parrack, a lymphedema therapist explained, fly-fishing classes have been coupled with wellness treatments for breast cancer because the physical act of fishing can help circumvent lymphedema – a condition in which fluid builds in the arms and legs due to missing, impaired or damaged lymph vessels or lymph nodes. Women who have had a mastectomy or other breast cancer treatments are especially vulnerable to the condition.

Consequently, Casting for Recovery established a fly-fishing retreat for breast cancer patients that would teach women how to fish, while also helping them to improve their sense of well-being after battling cancer.

“Casting for Recovery is a wellness program that helps the women that participate to understand that they’re a whole person,” Parrack said. “Our goal is to introduce them to something new. Most of the participants who come have never tried fly-fishing before, so they’re trying a new skill, they’re in a supportive environment and they have resources to ask questions – not only in the staff who are present but also the participants.”

Carol Challas enjoyed fly-fishing.

Carol Challas enjoyed fly-fishing.

Several of the women who attended Saturday’s fundraiser for Casting for Recovery were breast cancer survivors who were considering applying to the free three-day retreat funded entirely by donations.

“I’ve been catching myself watching the line go back and forth,” said Angela Sherman, a one-year breast cancer survivor. “You forget about everything else. It’s nice to have a few hours just for me. I’m just glad for every day and definitely take advantage of every chance I get to try something new every day.”

Standing alongside Sherman was her new friend from fly-fishing school, Joy Williams, who is a 10-year breast cancer survivor. Williams was grateful for the time to enjoy the warm weather and calm wind on Saturday and explained the invaluable lesson that cancer had taught her.

“We go through life in such a hurry all the time,” Williams said. “You just notice and pay more attention to things. You don’t take it for granted. And, I don’t stress about the small stuff anymore. Every day is a blessing.”

Joy Williams and Angela Sherman share their experiences with breast cancer as they fish.

Joy Williams and Angela Sherman share their experiences with breast cancer as they fish.

Sherman, Williams and the other women in the class were extremely compassionate toward one another and the cause they were supporting. All of the women had a connection to breast cancer, whether having experienced it themselves or having known someone who did.

Sherman emphasized the importance of having a mammogram and performing self-exams in order to detect cancer early on. Sherman and the other women shared these types of tips and stories from their experience with breast cancer as they stood on the bank of the pond learning how to fly-fish.

The women concluded the day with a demonstration on fly-selection and took to the water for the last few hours of the day.

“This has been a real interesting group,” sponsor Perry said. “There’s a retired police officer, there’s a couple of physical therapists and a nutritionist. They just all kind of fall into it. But for me, fly-fishing is my passion. I just love it. It’s nice to be able to use what you consider your passion to help somebody.”

If you are interested in attending the Casting for Recovery retreat at Wooded Glen near Henryville, Ind., visit www.castingforrecovery.org. You can also donate to the CFR fund by sending a check to Casting for Recovery, PO Box 1123, 3738 Main St., Manchester, VT 05254.

Visit www.reelrecovery.org for information on the cancer recovery retreat for men.

Contact writer Ashley Anderson at aanderson@voice-tribune.com.

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About the Author (Author Profile)

Ashley Anderson

Ashley spends half her time writing stories at The Voice-Tribune office and half her time out on the town conducting interviews, while occasionally dressing in wild outfits to fully immerse herself in the experience (aka Princess Leia at Comic Con). Ashley is a huge UofL fan and loves the Yankees and the Boston Celtics (she is fully aware of the irony). She hopes to one day outshine Erin Andrews on ESPN and enjoys running, Bardstown Road/Fourth Street, Breaking Bad and reality TV (she’s not ashamed to admit that).

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