Kick Cancer and Give Hope

By Simms Ambassador, Mia Sheppard

About one in eight women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. It is a startling statistic. When my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, I saw firsthand how cancer deteriorates a person’s attitude and life. She fought for her life by receiving radiation treatments, chemotherapy and surgery. She lost weight, experienced pain I can’t imagine and through that time, found strength in riding her Ducati across the country.

In a community where passion runs deep for fly-fishing, Casting for Recovery retreats bring hope, gratitude, peace, inspiration, encouragement and strength to women recovering from breast cancer. Volunteers that love to fly-fish teach participants casting, how to tie basic knots and all about bugs and sometimes, how to land a fish. Judith O’Keefe, a long time angler and friend, has volunteered for CfR since 2009 and now helps organize the Oregon North CFR retreat, at Black Butte Ranch.

In Judith’s words “Every retreat is inspiring.  Many of the participants have incredibly positive attitudes and are eager to learn the fundamentals of fly fishing. On Sunday morning each of the ladies, along with a “river helper” go down to the river or lake to put into practice what they’ve learned over the weekend.  One particular participant, Heidi, stands out.  While each of the ladies hope to hook and land a fish, Heidi was particularly determined.  She wasn’t going to get out of the water until her mission was accomplished.  Long after most had put down their rods, Heidi was still thigh deep in the pond casting away with her helper at her side.  When she finally did hook and land that fish, I’ve rarely seen such excitement.  She was the embodiment of pure delight and it was contagious.  I don’t know if Heidi still fishes, or even if she is still with us, but her infectious enthusiasm and joy still bring a smile to my face and remind me why I fly fish.


Photo Courtesy: Judith O’Keefe; from left to right, Mary Ann Dozer, Laurie Adams and CfR participant, Heidi Sheppard.

As a river helper at the Black Butte Ranch retreat last week, I was a part of a bigger picture. It wasn’t about how many fish you catch or how big the fish was. It’s about being a part of a community that brings hope, inspiration, strength and joy into a woman’s life that is recovering from a horrific disease.

To give someone encouragement that they can make another cast or walk the extra distance and beat breast cancer is what Casting for Recovery is about and why your support matters.

Give back to Casting for Recovery and shop Simms’ CfR Colleciton here.