Casting for Recovery offers unique weekend retreats for people with breast cancer. Clare Foulkes found it brought fun, relaxation and friendship.
I had a bit of a meltdown
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2014 at the age of 40.
I had two young children, aged two and eight at the time, and had only just met my new partner. I had also recently lost my mum to breast cancer.
It was a whirlwind, a rollercoaster of treatments and feelings.
After treatment you can take a bit of a step back and feel quite down. It’s like your safety net has been pulled away from you, but you still need support. A few years down the line it can feel like you’ve been forgotten.
I was coming up to five years post-diagnosis and had a bit of a meltdown.
I didn’t expect that.
I wanted to get away and relax
The Mid Yorks Breast Cancer Support Facebook group put up a link to Casting for Recovery. I’d never heard of it before.
They offer free fly fishing retreats for people with breast cancer.
It sounded like a unique opportunity to get away and relax, and have the support from other women who’ve been through the same breast cancer journey.
It was a lovely surprise when I found my application had been successful. I was so excited.
We felt safe with each other
The retreat I went on was at the Coniston Hotel in Skipton, North Yorkshire, in April 2019.
I met an amazing bunch of ladies. We all got to know each other over dinner on Friday.
On Saturday we were split into teams and practised using fishing rods. The weather was not very good and it was raining. But the members of the Casting for Recovery team really looked after us.
Afterwards we made some flies. We all really enjoyed it, everyone really concentrating and helping each other.
There was also a mindfulness and relaxation session, which was really nice.
We just felt quite safe with each other, and we discussed things we wouldn’t have discussed with anyone else.
I found fishing so relaxing
On Sunday we met our fishing guides, who are all experienced fly casting experts, and spent some time on the lake.
I’d never done anything like that before. I found it so relaxing. It takes your mind off everything. I definitely want to carry on and do some more fishing.
As well as being fun and relaxing, there was a lot of camaraderie in the group.
It didn’t matter where we were in our treatment. Some women were still having chemotherapy but others like me were five or ten years plus down the line.
It’s good to go out of your comfort zone
I think it’s important after breast cancer to take the plunge and look at hobbies you might not have done before, to go past your normal comfort zone. Things that help you relax and give you time yourself to make the most of the new chapter in your life.
Through Casting for Recovery, I’ve found a new group of friends.
We’ve all kept in touch, and we contact each other through WhatsApp. When we saw Casting for Recovery featured on a recent episode of Countryfile, it was really emotional remembering our weekend. But it’s a fun, happy memory.
It brings a smile to my face thinking about it.
Adapting to life after hospital treatment ends can be hard, but information and support are available. Find out more about life after treatment.