It was my turn to plan 'friday night date night'. I thought I'd surprise my honey by starting out with a late afternoon trip to the Sportsmans Expo in Glendale, Az. The arena was to be packed with fishing 'stuff'-demonstrations promising to make you an expert fly-fisher, boats that every fisherman would die for, campers and trailers so stocked with amenities that even the most 'anti-outdoors' wife would want to accompany you on your next fishing trip and excursions to every exotic place you could think of to hunt any wild and crazy animal you can imagine.
We walked up and down the aisles, looking at the goods and listening to the sales pitches; lures that guaranteed you'd catch bigger fish, trips that would be a 'once in a lifetime' experience, fire starters that looked fun to play with whether you were camping or not, jerky made out of every kind of animal that can be hunted and a camper/trailer that I would surely have purchased if I had found $21K randomly in the pocket of my jeans.
We thought we had seen about everything there was to see as we turned down the last isle. "We'll just walk down this isle and continue out the door", we said to each other. I scanned the booths before us, wondering if I could successfully avoid eye contact with the vendors as we walked by so we could leave and head downtown for the rest of date night. As I looked down the isle, something on the last booth caught my eye. Something I didn't expect to see at this venue, a pink ribbon representing breast cancer awareness. Now I was curious. I wondered how breast cancer awareness fit into this environment.
I grabbed my honey's hand and urged him to hurry down the isle toward the pink ribbons. We stopped in front of the table, and as we read "Casting For Recovery" (http://castingforrecovery.org/ ) a cute little lady named Donna popped out from behind the poster with a big smile on her face, looked at me and asked if I was a Breast Cancer Survivor. I confirmed that I was and questioned what the name of the organization meant. With great enthusiasm she proceeded to tell us about this non-profit organization, "Casting For Recovery".
Donna told us about a weekend retreat they offer (in many states) for Breast Cancer Survivors at any stage of recovery. At this weekend retreat, experts teach women about fly-fishing...everything from knot tying and equipment basics to fly casting and spending time on the water practicing catch and release fishing. Why fly-fishing? Fly-fishing techniques provide a gently exercise for joint and soft tissue mobility and the equipment is lightweight.
During this weekend retreat there are also opportunities for education through Physical Therapists, Nurses, Counselors, etc. And maybe most important, an opportunity to meet, talk with and form friendships and support systems with other women who understand the ups and downs that come with life after 'BC'.
After sharing our stories with one another, Donna explained that because of funds (or lack of), they were only able to take 14 women on the retreat. She told me that the deadline to apply was in 5 days and encouraged me to go online and submit my application. She told me that they literally took all of the applications and put them in a hat and drew out 14. She continued to explain that they also draw out 14 alternates, just in case one of the first drawn wasn't able to attend, even up to the last minute. I looked at my sweetheart and said, "I'm going to go learn to fly-fish" (He recently started to learn to fly-fish himself and I knew he would be real happy if I could fish with him).
The next morning I went online and submitted my application. I then waited, knowing the deadline was in five days. Since the deadline was a Saturday, I confidently stated that Monday morning I would have an email back telling me that I had been drawn...I was going to will it to happen with positive thinking.
The following Monday morning I DID have an email from CFR telling me that I had been chosen as an alternate. Hmmm....I fully expected to be planning my fishing weekend. Then I remembered that Donna had told me that she was drawn as an alternate and got to go because someone else wasn't able to. Since this is an opportunity I wish every woman dealing with breast cancer could experience, I had a hard time hoping that someone else wouldn't be able to go just so that I could. Another hmmm....if someone won a cruise at the last minute, that would be a really good reason for a spot to open up for me. That's what I'll go with!! I hope someone wins an awesome cruise that has to be taken the same weekend!
This is the story of 2010, the year I found out about 'Casting For Recovery'. A spot DIDN'T open up at the last minute and I DIDN'T get to attend. So, I applied again this year. Just a couple of days ago I was notified that I was one of the lucky ladies drawn to attend the 2011 retreat. I am super excited about this opportunity. If you are a Breast Cancer survivor in any stage of recovery, or if you have a sister, mother or friend who has battled Breast Cancer, I encourage you to check out http://castingforrecovery.org/ to see if there is a retreat in your state. I am looking forward to an amazing experience!