I can answer this because approximately 6 years ago I came in contact with them at the fly-fishing show in Warren, Michigan, that I attended with my son Aaron. I had wanted to fly fish for a long time and now that I was through with my breast cancer treatment, I had a much bigger Carpe Diem attitude about life. It was time to do the things I dreamed about and talked about but never did.
I met Cathy Sero, who coordinates the group, and found out I could sign up to go on a 3 day 2 night fishing trip at Gates Lodge in Grayling along with 13 other cancer survivors for the price of $25.00, including all equipment, lodging and meals. I was shocked but she explained how the group was a 501 (c) (3) non profit that reached out to cancer survivors to provide a one of a kind experience on and off the river which renews the spirit and provides support through fly-fishing, nature, peer coaching and positive camaraderie.
I signed on the line and in July, not knowing another person going, I reached out to find someone else in my area and drove up together, not knowing what we were getting into. Little did we know we were in store for the weekend of a lifetime, being Queens for the time of our stay. There were 14 volunteers (coaches) to encourage, teach, and stand by us in the river to give the confidence needed. My coach actually brought me a cup of coffee out on the river at 6:30 a.m. In the afternoons there were crafts and fly fishing information sessions for those who could pull themselves off the river, and in the evening campfires with wonderful sharing times. (Actually sharing things you thought you could never say out loud or that anyone would understand). The year I was there they had a masseuse and I received a massage along side the river as evening was setting (I will never forget that).
Each year there are special happenings and each retreat is a little different, but each one places you in a secure zone where you are totally accepted and encouraged to embrace life. One thing about cancer is that both friends and family really don’t want to hear your story; they want you to be better and move on. When you’re in a group like this you really know that when you talk among yourselves the others really know what you’re talking about. The acceptance is very hard to explain but it is extremely healing and encouraging.
I cannot say enough about the group or Cathy Sero who facilitates it. She has a true love for each woman that attends and it comes through loud and clear. There are 4 retreats at Gates Lodge each year, which take place in July and August. Check out their website at www.fishon.org.
They can always use volunteers, if you decide to help, believe me you will be blessed for your time. It’s a wonderful experience.
I cannot thank this group enough for the healing and encouragement given me, as well as the love for fishing they awakened within me.