2013 Annual May Reunion Retreat Is Almost Here

Yes! It is just days away…the Annual Mother’s Day Weekend Reunion Retreat on the North Branch of the Au Sable in Lovells, MI!  Whoo-hoo!

This will be our EIGHTH year at Brook Trout Bend. I am so excited to see the river, the participants, and have a fantastic time. The weather looks like it will be pretty good and I’m hopeful we’ll encounter a good hatch or two. The record of trout caught in one day at this retreat is 72 brook, brown and rainbow trout. Let’s see what happens this year.

We have a full roster of fishers and volunteers. More details and photos to come.

Fish On!  – Cath Sero


Fish On! With Reeling & Healing Arkansas


Reeling & Healing Midwest is excited to announce their first Reeling & Healing Arkansas Fly Fishing Wellness Retreat for women battling or surviving cancer.

These retreats are provided for women, 18 years or older, who are battling or surviving ANY type of cancer. The 2-1/2 day retreat will take place Friday, May 31st -Sunday, June 2nd, at Gaston’s White River Resort in Lakeview, Arkansas.

All lodging, equipment, food, instruction, guide assistance are provided at no charge. Fly fishing experience is not required to attend. Retreats are led by professional facilitators and certified fly fishing instructors. When the human spirit, combined with courage and faith to overcome cancer, meets up with a river and the chance to fly-fish, well, magic happens!

Come join this magic and sign up for the retreat. Learn more at ReelingandHealing.org, or email: info@ReelingandHealing.org, or contact Kerri Russell at 479-640-8319.

Reeling & Healing of the Midwest is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which champions fly fishing wellness retreat programs for women diagnosed with or surviving cancer. It is 100% donor-supported with a 100% volunteer staff.

Visit FishOn.org or ReelingandHealing.org for additional information.

Renew Spirit. Renew Hope. Fish On!

Giving – Hope and More

The work Reeling & Healing does is awesome beyond words. Giving hope, restoring faith & returning self-confidence are gifts of the highest order.

As a cancer survivor myself, I know the importance of positive attitude, of hope, and of faith.

Thank you and all the volunteers of Reeling & Healing Midwest for all you do.  – Mike S.

Who and What is Reeling and Healing

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.

Sue Kazmierczak

Do These Waders Make My Butt Look Big?

By Celeste Pruhomme

The answer is unequivocally YES! That’s the beauty of women in waders; you don’t have to worry whether they do or not, they just do. They make everyone’s butt look big!

I am surrounded by men in my life who love to fish; even my grandsons have gotten into the act.  All I’d been hearing from these men since I told them about my fly fishing trip was that it would be a waste of time because I would never be able to learn to fly fish.  needless to say, I wanted to “succeed” at fly fishing so I could proudly show off a picture of me and my prize fish.

The first thing Patty K and I did when we found out we were going on this adventure was to go shopping for our fishing hats.  of course Patty wanted to check out the fly fishing vests as well because those of you who know Patty know that Patty always likes to accessorize.  We finally decided that our personal fishing guides could hold our stuff for us because the vests might add too much bulk to our fishing ensembles. Once we got there we found out it was a good decision because it was too darn hot for the layered look.

Of course I’m talking about the Reeling & Healing Midwest program that Patty, Joline, Liz, Julie, Lori and I attended in July 2011.  From the moment we arrived, there was an attitude of “what can we do for you?” For any of you ladies that haven’t been on this adventure yet, you should make plans to do so if for no other reason that the wonderful experience of being treated like royalty, but with a fishing hat instead of a crown.

As soon as we arrived at Gates Au Sable Lodge, we were checked in, fitted for our waders, and escorted to our lodging quarters to await orientation and dinner. The whole 2-1/2 days consisted of volunteers asking us what they could do for us. You didn’t even have to get your own water; they’d get it for you.  I didn’t even have to tie my own boots, not that I could have. For some reason, once you bend, you look like the Michelin Man, but once you enter the cool water of the river, the air miraculously disappears. The expectation of getting into the river kept building as we went through orientation. Most of us did get in the water every chance we got just as a way to try and cool down.

The next morning. after the proper amount of instruction and some time on land practicing our casting, we strapped on those sexy waders and made our way out to the middle of the holy waters of the beautiful Au Sable River as it flowed gently by, surrounded by nothing but the great Northern Michigan outdoors, a few thousand bugs and what the guides call the “aluminum hatch.” The aluminum hatch is how they refer to canoers (They turn out to be as annoying as the bugs). According to the fishing guides, these thousands of bugs are a good thing; it seems that’s what trout feed on – ergo – fly fishing.  Anyhow, I began to question whether fly fishing was something I really wanted to do if all these bugs were a “good” thing. Thankfully they don’t bite or sting or cause any harm. Whatever, it was the perfect setting for a 2-1/2 day fly fishing adventure.

Finally it was time for all twelve participants and our guides to enter the cooling waters of the river, setting out to try and hook that rare but beautiful prize-winning trout.  I had wanted to be able to brag to the members of my family that I caught a real beauty, all the while knowing that I could always fall back on the “big one that got away” story. If all else failed, maybe there was a fish monger in town I could buy a big rainbow trout from to take my picture with – found out there wasn’t.  One lucky lady did catch a nice brown trout, but her guide lost it so it turns out the “fish that got away” story is real and I witnessed it with my own eyes.

Due to the unusual heat, we weren’t able to have the nightly campfire. But we did gather around the riverside fire pit and talked. We each received a river rock that had a message written on it from a previous participant from an earlier retreat. We would have the honor of passing along this tradition to the next week’s participants. The fire circle (minus the fire) was a wonderful way to get to know a little bit about each woman. There was a special stone that has been a tradition at all of the retreats and each woman holds it as she tells her story or what she hoped to take away from the experience of fly fishing.What a fabulous way to bond with the other participants and I couldn’t help but notice that each woman there had been courageous enough to fight her own battle with cancer and was still among us and still looking for new adventures. What strong and wonderful women they are!

Forget about the big fish that got away; this trip was about so much more than that. It really was about healing through serene surroundings, getting in touch with that inner need for calmness, and sharing with your comrades in this battle we must constantly wage upon cancer.

FISH ON!  See you at a retreat!





Take My Advice: GO FISH!

Go online and find fishon.org and sign up! It’s that time of year – you need to register a few months ahead of time for theses summer weekends  which will give you an easy introduction to fly fishing in the midst of beautiful nature and understanding mentors, as well as fellow cancer fighters. This group offers a wonderful opportunity for enjoying a serene sport in restful and inspirational surroundings. Whether or not you have an interest in fishing – you can learn how it’s done and experience a few days being treated like royalty. You can sign up with a friend and choose to be roommates, or you can bravely venture into this on your won. You won’t feel along for long! This group is very enthusiastic about their sport, but more that that they are dedicated to giving cancer patients and survivors a “weekend” of retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Many members of our support group have gone up to Grayling, Michigan, to stay for the two night retreat at Gates Lodge on the Au Sable River. Reeling & Healing has a cadre of experienced fishing guides that work one-on-one with each participant. They’ll teach you how to hold your fishing rod and guide you on casting your line, teach you about fish and what they eat, etc. But it’s not just a how-to; it’s more about giving everyone a chance to experience the meditative healing of just standing in the river, feeling the current and flow of the river as it seems to wash away your cares and woes.

I attended a retreat in 2011 with Lori, Pat, Joline, Celeste and Liz. We all enjoyed ourselves tremendously and came back rhapsodizing about how wonderfully we were treated. Last summer I got a rare chance to repeat and took along a very good friend who experienced breast cancer while I had ovarian.

This summer I am volunteering to go up and be one of those who help the participants. I hope to get a chance to make someone else feel as welcome and comfortable as I felt during my turn as a participant. I am not exactly an “outdoorsy” type gal, but after the beauty of the weekends on the “holy water” (ecologically speaking) of the Au Sable among other survivors, with the fishing guides and volunteers making such an effort to be sure we all enjoyed ourselves, I am endorsing the “Reeling & Healing” experience as just that: Healing!

- Julie F., March 2013

Retreat Thank You

Hi Everyone! I didn’t get to say a formal goodbye to all of you when I left the retreat. I want to tell everyone thank you for being so wonderful to me and my friend Judy. I was very exited to be able to come to the retreat to get away from real life and to try something new. Things didn’t work out the way I had planned due to my friend’s illness and how bad she has gotten. When we planned this trip, she wasn’t in such a bad place. I will never forget all you did for us to make us comfortable, and for the fact that I was able to have alone time with Judy, for that I will be forever grateful. What you guys do is amazing to me and I wish I could try it again some day under different circumstances. I truly enjoyed learning how to fly fish, and a special thanks goes out to Andy for being my guide on the river. He was awesome!!!!  I would like to thank Nancy for being so good to me and Judy, she was great, and we truly appreciated her. What you all do is wonderful!!!! Thank you again.

Take care all and Live Strong and of course, “FISH ON”  – Amy R.

Great Retreat. Thank You.

Reeling & Healing – Thank you for the notes and photos. I am back at school now and up to my ears in homework. I hope this year’s retreats and reunions go smoothly. Reeling & Healing adds so much to the life of anyone who thinks they are a victim of cancer. The retreat demonstrate that life can still be enjoyed and encouragements are given/received by all who attend. Blessings to everyone! – Marge V.

In Memory of Michelle Mickey Bethmann

Michelle “Mickey” Bethmann participated in a fly fishing retreat in 2011.  She attended the retreat right after receiving a round of chemotherapy for breast cancer.  Her smile and laughter were infectious to not only the other participants but to the staff.  All who met Mickey, knew that they were receiving a great gift of friendship.

After a 2 year battle, my heart was very sad when I received the news that she had joined her Heavenly Father on Tuesday 3/19 with her family and friends with her, but for her it is a blessing.

Mickey’s husband, Dave and daughters Amanda, Susan, and Laurie Ann have chosen Reeling and Healing as her choice of memorial.  We are blessed to be chosen and will continue to provide these retreats for cancer survivors, where we are able to renew their spirit, their joy, their hope and their view of life.  – Patti H., Missouri

To donate in honor and memory of Mickey visit our website’s Donation Page.


Jay’s Sporting Goods in Gaylord, Michigan, is hosting their Second Annual Hope for Women in the Outdoors event on Sunday, July 28, 2013.

Monies raised at this special event will benefit Gaylord’s oncology Center and Reeling & Healing Midwest. In 2012 they were each awarded $2,500!

The Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited from Gaylord, Michigan, will be assisting at the event. More details to come in the near future.

Next »

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