SANGER, Calif. (KGET) — It’s not your typical cancer rehabilitation program, but organizers with Casting for Recovery say fly fishing can provide physical, emotional and even spiritual benefits for breast cancer surivors. The organization takes women on retreats across the country, and those who’ve been are buying in hook, line and sinker.

At a pond in Sanger, at Wonder Valley Ranch, miles away from oncology departments and surgeons’ offices, 14 cancer survivors got a whole different kind of treatment recently. They came together to learn the art of fly fishing and discover how to heal from scars that go more than skin deep. Janet, a breast cancer survivor from Los Angeles says when she was diagnosed at the beginning of the pandemic, she felt alone until she found Casting for Recovery. The motions involved in fly fishing help women recover after a mastectomy or lumpectomy. Nurses and therapists lead workshops that focus on physical and mental health, while water helpers, like Chris Skeels with Kern River Fly Fishers teach the fishing fundamentals. He says he gets as much out of it as the women. “Fly fishing is as much spiritual as it is anything else. I really enjoy that part of it. And getting out in nature, you can’t beat that.”

But for survivors the best part, or the biggest catch, is the fellowship. “I feel like I’ve met a sisterhood. It’s been a great combination of learning about fishing and fly fishing and yet we all have this commonality that we share this journey of cancer,” said Cyndi, a survivor from Pasadena. Janet agreed. “I have found a sisterhood like Cyndi said and also a warrior team. They’re like my army, they’ve got my back.”

Casting for Recovery is free for breast cancer survivors. The next retreat in the central valley is set for October. You can get more information or apply on the website, castingforrecovery.org.