Mission Statement and FAQs

Mission Statement

The mission of Casting for Recovery® (CFR) is to enhance the quality of life of women with breast cancer by providing retreats designed to promote and support mental and physical healing. Our program uses counseling, medical education, and instruction in fly fishing to provide an opportunity for women at any age, or stage of treatment, to address survivorship issues. We are committed to socioeconomic and cultural diversity, and our retreats are provided at no cost to participants.

Frequently Asked Questions

When was Casting for Recovery founded?

  • Founded in 1996 with the National Office based in Manchester, Vermont.
  • Founded by a professional fly fisher and a breast reconstructive surgeon.

Is CFR a 501(c)(3) non profit?

  • CFR was awarded 501(c)(3) non-profit status in 1998. You can view the IRS Determination Letter here: 501(C)(3)CFR.

Why fly fishing & breast cancer?

  • No other programs that we know of have combined fly fishing, counseling, medical expertise, and breast cancer recovery.
  • Physically, the motion of fly-casting is similar to the exercises that surgeons prescribe after surgery or radiation, thus promoting soft tissue stretching.
  • The retreat program offers respite, personal connections, and information to survivors.

How many states does CFR serve? Do you have programs outside the U.S.?

  • In 2012, 42 retreats in 33 states served over 600 survivors; many states hold multiple retreats.
  • CFR has served over 5,600 women since 1996.
  • “Sister” organizations operate in Canada, U.K./Ireland, and New Zealand.

Is it true that the participants do not pay for the retreat?

  • Yes, our retreat programs are offered at no cost to the participants so that women who need our program will not be held back from participating due to financial considerations.
  • Many program alumnae make a contribution after their retreat experience. In 2012, 41% of our donations from individuals were made by program alumnae.

How much does it cost per participant?

  • To serve each woman in a retreat, the direct cost to CFR is approximately $1,000.

How is Casting for Recovery funded?

  • CFR relies entirely on donations from individuals, grants, and corporations.
  • In 2012, approximately 54% of our contributions came from individuals.
  • National sponsors include Under Armour, L.L.Bean, Smart Wool, Sisters on the Fly and Ashford Hospitality Trust.
  • Many individual companies also sponsor retreat programs at the local level.
  • The CFR Board of Trustees provides financial support via in-kind services, personal giving and an annual Board Match donation campaign.

How much goes to Program versus Administrative costs?

  • In 2012, 82 cents of every donated dollar went directly to programs.
  • Administrative costs include participant registration, volunteer training, and fundraising.
  • For a copy of the most recent CFR IRS Form 990, click here.

How do women find out about Casting for Recovery?

  • In 2012, 30% of our referrals came from the medical community; 30% from friends/family; the remainder are from media, volunteer outreach, and outreach through other organizations.
  • By 2012, the Casting for Recovery program was profiled extensively by the New York Times and other national and regional media, including World Fishing Network, "The TODAY Show," Readers’ Digest, and Women & Cancer magazines.
  • Our website, www.castingforrecovery.org, is a resource to find out more about the program.
  • We have a Facebook website at

How are participants selected?

  • Women at any age and any stage of treatment and recovery from breast cancer are eligible.
  • Women may apply to a retreat program for their service area.
  • Applicants submit their name, address, and phone number ONLINE, via email (info@castingforrecovery.org) or by our toll-free phone number (888-553-3500), prior to the registration deadline.

Can I sponsor someone?

  • As demand is high, a lottery selection process is used to choose participants from a group of applications for the program for which they are eligible.
  • Unfortunately, CFR has more applicants than spots available. We send a letter in the beginning of the next year to those not selected in that previous year to see if those women are interested in re-submitting their names.

What is the retreat like?

  • Each 2–1/2 day retreat program incorporates both fly-fishing instruction and social support, in a setting where the enjoyment of nature and the learning of new skills thrive.
  • Up to 14 women participate which is the optimum number for small group dynamics.
  • The agenda includes instruction in the basics of fly-fishing and casting, and how they are related to the recovery process of breast cancer, with a focus on quality of life skills.
  • Women participate in the fly-fishing experience at their own comfort level.
  • The schedule is full, yet there is plenty of personal time for meeting new friends and reflection.
  • For a Sample Retreat Schedule, please click here.

How many volunteers does CFR have?

  • We rely on over 1,500 volunteers across the U.S. who serve as retreat staff, planning team members, fundraisers, and outreach advocates.
  • Volunteers are trained in retreat program planning and program delivery.
  • At least one medical professional, one psychosocial counselor, and four fly-fishing instructors trained specifically for the Casting for Recovery Program staff each retreat.

How many staff does CFR have?

  • The National Office employs 5 full-time and 3 part-time staff to support the volunteers and programs across the U.S.

How many Board of Trustees members are there?

  • There are currently six Board members with diverse backgrounds that include law, business, marketing, accounting and management consulting.

Do you serve a diverse population?

  • Yes, Casting for Recovery is committed to socioeconomic and cultural diversity.

How many women a year are diagnosed with breast cancer? Do you serve men with breast cancer?

  • In 2013, an estimated 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 64,640 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer. *
  • About 1 in 8 U.S. women (just under 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. *
  • About 2,240 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2013. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000. *
  • Since the diagnosis level and demand are so great among women, CFR does not serve men with breast cancer.

* Breast cancer incidence statistics are from http://www.cancer.org

Who are the women who attend?

  • Participants range in age from early-20s to early-90s, and are from many socio-economic and cultural backgrounds.
  • The program is appropriate for women in all stages of treatment and recovery, and various stages of emotional adaptation to breast cancer.

How does CFR serve the program alumnae?

  • Our commitment is providing local volunteers as a resource base and helping maintain connections after the retreat ends.
  • Beyond the retreat weekend, alumnae reunions are also organized, and many alumnae create their own networks.
  • Over 600 alumnae have also served as volunteers with CFR.

Does Casting for Recovery work?

Findings from a 2011 study of CFR retreats in five states and post-retreat surveys demonstrate Casting for Recovery’s ability to reduce and/or identify emotional distress and quality of life issues in breast cancer survivors. The 2011 study was designed to evaluate the effects on emotional distress in breast cancer survivors. Participants completed the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Distress screening tool prior to and two to six weeks after their CFR retreats.

The study found these to be the 10 top issues affecting participants:
1) Worry/fears/nervousness
2) Fatigue
3) Memory/concentration
4) Sadness/depression
5) Sleep
6) Appearance
7) Financial/insurance
8) Dealing with partner/children
9) Sexual
10) Loss of interest in usual interests

The 2011 study found, however, a significant decrease in the distress score after experiencing the retreat – from 4.02 prior to the retreat to 2.93 post-retreat. Ninety-one percent of respondents felt more aware and accepting of themselves, felt better able to cope, and learned something new about living with breast cancer after participating in a CFR retreat.

(This study was replicated in 2012; findings are pending).






"It is extremely moving to be involved with a program that changes people's lives. You need only listen to one woman's story of her experience of attending a Casting for Recovery retreat to know why we became the national sponsor of this extraordinary organization four years ago, and why the relationship continues to resonate today.... 
To be part of a process that so profoundly changes lives is a privilege."

Under Armour
CFR Premier Sponsor