A Visit to Casting for Recovery Italia

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This spring, CfR’s Board Chair, Mary Turney, hit the international road to Italy. During her travels, she took the time to stop and meet the Casting for Recovery Italia team. Read more about her time spent with our foreign family.

In April, I had the delightful experience of traveling in Italy with my great-niece Roslynn.  When she turned 16, I told her I would take her on a trip to wherever she chose to go.  Italy was the place!  In addition to having a memorable adventure with Roslynn, I was honored to spend a day with the Casting for Recovery Italia team.  I would like to share some of our day with you.

First and foremost, the enthusiasm of the team is infectious.  We met on a lovely day in the seaside town of Carrara in Tuscany.  Giancarlo Berlucchi the owner of the Alcione Beach restaurant was a wonderful host – and also a part of the CfR planning team.

When an international program asks to become affiliated with Casting for Recovery, we review their plans and sponsorship arrangements.  We sign a joint agreement and provide them access to the Program Planning Guide.  For the most part, they are on their own after this point.  We do not provide ongoing support to them from the National staff.  The PPG is an extremely useful set of documents – but a bit daunting for people new to CfR!

I wondered in advance where we would begin our discussion and if language would be a barrier.  From the moment we arrived, the conversation was animated and fast-paced.  A few times we stopped for some translations but in general, we communicated extremely well.  Laura Pisano is the CfR Italia Program Coordinator.  She is passionate about fly fishing and Casting for Recovery.  Laura definitely conveyed a confidence that “we are going to do this and will remove any obstacles to make it happen.”  

The team was curious about the overall retreat weekend and some of the activities.  One of the first things I said to them was “Casting for Recovery is about fishing … but it about much more than fishing.”  They seemed perplexed by this statement.  In order to elaborate on my comment, we reviewed a typical schedule of events.  Reviewing the basics of a retreat was a great way to explain how activities like “Evening Circle” and the “Casting of the Stones” fits into the total picture.  Dr. Federica Pucciarelli will be the PsychoSocial Facilitator.  She came with a list of questions about her role.  As we reviewed the overall retreat program, she was checking things off of her list of questions.  We had a brief discussion that that the traditional evening meal in Italy lasts about 2 hours and does not begin until 8pm or later.  Not sure what counsel all of you might have offered but I suggested they might want to move “Evening Circle” to before dinner to ensure full participation!

We discussed some of the frequently identified issues that women state they want to discuss during retreats in the United States including recurrence and body image.  No surprise – they are some of the major concerns in Italy as well!   We discussed “chemo brain” which was a new concept to several of the Italia team.  This one required a separate translation and discussion in Italian by the team to fully comprehend but helped them to think about the methods we use to conduct “get acquainted” activities and fly fishing instruction. Roberta Crudeli from the Carrara hospital is coordinating the Medical Facilitators from the oncology department.  She was curious about the level of medical support needed at the retreat.  We discussed how to incorporate information about lymphedema into their program.   The oncology department in Carrara incorporates innovative complementary approaches such as music and pet therapy into their continuum of care.  For this reason, they are very supportive of CfR as a survivorship program.  

Casting instructor Danilo Palermo and River Helper Franco del Chiaro asked questions about how to ensure that the River Helpers offer support for the participants without doing too much or too little.  Sound familiar?  I know that is an issue that many of us have had to manage.  Their River Helper Coordinator Massimo Maggiani is an insightful man who is a tremendous asset to the group.  One of his comments was “First we must introduce them to the passion – and then to the fishing.”

Gabriella Monti is handling Media Relations.  She has created a very effective brochure for outreach.  The group has already had significant print and televised coverage and Gabriella has plans for more.  One of my follow up items was the share with her the NBC Nightly news segment from 2015.  Here is a link to their website.  http://www.castingforrecovery.it/

As is true for many of us, fundraising is a challenge in Italy.  Maybe even more so since fly fishing is not a widely practiced activity, especially by women.  I shared some of the events that are hosted by programs like Fish Tales and Ales – although in Italy it might be more appropriate to have Fish Lines and Wines!  Subsequently, I shared with Laura the personal fundraising letter that we send each year to Wyoming individual donors.  We also discussed grants and sponsorships from business and medical facilities.  They have worked hard at fundraising and will have the first Casting for Recovery Italia retreat on May 26-28, 2017 at Il Bardellino in Fivizzano, Italy.

Whitney had sent along some gifts (fly reel charms, wading belts, stickers, Fly Vines bracelets) from the national office and I had some of our Wyoming CfR tape measures.  The Italia team presented me with a ball cap and badges from their local fishing club, a “Fish Circle” T-shirt and several copies of their program brochure.  A special treat was a pink fly that Massimo had tied!

I believe that the Italia team wanted validation that they are on the right track and a bit of encouragement that they can make it happen.  I remember how much I appreciated that same support in 2011 when planning the first retreat in Wyoming.  Several of the team members had family join them for our luncheon which indicated to me the depth of support that everyone feels for what they are doing. The inclusion and camaraderie of the group was heartwarming.   As we said our goodbyes, I felt that we too had become part of the CfR Italia extended family.  The Magic of CfR transcends language and cultural barriers!

– Mary Turney

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