Casting for Recovery: One Woman’s Story

Sheila and one of her fabulous flies
Photo by Casting for Recovery

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Orvis is pleased to celebrate the fine, life-affirming work done by Casting for Recovery. CfR’s mission is to enhance the quality of life for women with breast cancer through a unique program that combines breast cancer education and peer support with the therapeutic sport of fly fishing. Orvis is proud to be a founding sponsor.

Recently Orvis received a beautifully written, incredibly touching letter from a woman named Sheila Rodriguez, who participated in a CfR retreat in Idaho this year. We want to share this with all of you who have supported this incredible program.

Dear Donors,

I have stage 4 breast cancer. That’s terminal. There’s no cure. There’s no chemo or medication that’s going to make it go away. Every 3 weeks I go in to the oncology center and have IV infusions of medications that will hopefully slow the growth of the cancer. Every 3 months I have my body scanned to see what all those nasty cancer tumors are doing. My situation is literally a matter of time. I’m praying for time.

I’m praying for LOTS of time so I can hopefully see my kiddos grow up and become the adults that I hope they will be. Almost every activity I’m involved in is centered around trying to create a memory for my three daughters. Cooking, learning, travel, crafts, working, creating, you name it, and I’m manipulating it to create a memory for my daughters. That’s my life. It’s either IVs, scans or memory making. It’s an unbelievable amount of pressure and anxiety.

Then there was fly fishing! There were three days that were my very own. I got to be selfish and indulge myself by doing something I’d wanted to do. Granted, I couldn’t stop thinking about picking tiny flowers to press and add to the memory books for my daughters; sneaking in extra time and explaining the fly tying instructor how badly I needed to make THREE flies because I have THREE daughters; making THREE bead bracelets, again because there are THREE girls at home. I know that those three girls are going to need lots of things that will remind them of me and help them retain memories and hopefully bring them comfort.

But then when I finally got to cast for real and I caught that first fish, I got to marinate in that moment and love that I could have something all to myself for just those few seconds. I knew I’d tell them all about it and show them pictures and show them the tiny flowers I would press and I’d show them the pink and black flies I tied for them. But, I got to live for myself for a couple hours, casting over and over and catching more than 20 fish! And, it was all mine. For a couple of hours, someone cared about ME and helped ME and laughed and smiled and hooped and hollered with ME!! For just a little while, I got to be Sheila, not a mom or a wife, and not at all a cancer patient. And I definitely was not terminal. There wasn’t any prognosis or expected months of survival or measurements and numbers of tumors. There wasn’t any fear or anxiety or waiting to know what the radiologist thought of the latest MRI. I was just me, and I was catching fish. And, it’s one of the most precious memories I have.

I think about the women that will come after me and learn to cast and they will tie a fly or two (but probably not three!!) and they’ll get to forget all about whatever their situation is with cancer. Hopefully they won’t be in my shoes. Hopefully they won’t even know what stage 4 means. Hopefully they’ll just be counting how many years have passed since their scare and life altering meeting with cancer. But there will probably be one woman in each group who knows her days are very limited compared to what she had imagined and planned for her life. And THAT woman will get to live so much in just a few days. And those moments will be precious to her because she knows just how much of a gift each day is.

Thank you for your donation to CfR. I don’t think there’s any way to explain how a program like CfR can really heal someone. And, even though it cannot heal someone like me physically, it can heal us in other ways. So I want to thank you for all those women that don’t even know yet just how much fun they will have and how much it will help to heal them. But, I do!!!

Thank you so much for your generous donation to this incredible organization!

Sheila Rodriguez
CfR Participant 2015

Who could possibly say it better than that? We too wish Sheila all the time she needs.

If you’ve supported Casting for Recovery with your time and/or treasure, thank you. If you haven’t, consider observing Breast Cancer Awareness Month by honoring these brave women and men with a gift to CfR. Just look what you can do:

Sheila and friend celebrate the day
Photo by Casting for Recovery

5 thoughts on “Casting for Recovery: One Woman’s Story”

  1. I have been a stream guide for CFR retreats and it brings me great joy and pleasure. The women who attend the retreats are wonderful and it’s my honor to be with them and watch when they catch that first fish. My husband is a 2 cancer survivor and we are so happy to be able to give them a little bit of happiness. We are and will be Orvis customers for life. Thanks for your support.

  2. This story brought tears to my eyes. May god bless you and your beautiful daughters and give you strength.

  3. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. I have had the good fortune to be selected to attend a CFR retreat. Shelia has beautifully conveyed the sentiment of countless participants. Thank you Orvis, for the support you provide this wonderful organization. Fish on!

  4. Thank you for sharing your story so elequently. I am blessed and so grateful to have shared this experience with you. It was exciting to watch you catch fish after fish. Your smile lit up the world that day, and your guide was a hoot!

    Thank you to Orvis, the amazing volunteers who make these retreats possible for Sur-Thrivers, and everyone who supports CfR financially.

    Nothing lasts longer than Happy Memories!

  5. Pingback: It's Giving Tuesday: Orvis Will Match Your Donation to Casting for Recovery Today! | Orvis News

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