Fly-fishing offer to cancer survivors

ESTHER ASHBY-COVENTRY
Last updated 05:00 12/02/2013

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If enough funding and volunteers can be found, breast cancer survivors in South Canterbury could learn fly fishing to help with their recovery.

Charitable organisation Casting for Recovery (CFR) has offered fishing retreats on the Tongariro River in the North Island.

The benefits include gentle exercise through casting which encourages scarring to heal while the natural environment promotes psychological health.

CFR executive director Sherrie Feickert said a retreat was planned for Owen Valley, Nelson, in April. She would like to see the charity go nationwide but it was dependent on funding and volunteers.

To finance 11 women over the three days costs about $7000 and included a nurse in attendance.

Nurse Julie Blows volunteered for her first retreat last weekend and said it had been amazing and emotional. For some women it was the first time since diagnosis that they had been in a group with others in a similar position to them.

"Everyone benefited, even the volunteers."

Timaru cancer survivor Sally Betts said she was diagnosed five years ago and would have loved to learn fly fishing if it had been offered.

During her recovery she did a lot of walking and and pilates but with four children it was difficult to spend the time she needed to exercise.

South Canterbury Anglers' Club president Gary Harrison said he is sure club members would be happy to teach women the art of fly fishing.

They tutored anyone who joined the club and wanted to learn. Casting was predominantly used for trout fishing and occasionally salmon fishing which used a different technique.

"If someone is made known to us, someone will take them out," he said.

The rate at which people learned the skill depended on their timing and hand-eye co-ordination.

"Some people have natural self-timing."

Opihi River is the closest fly fishing area to Timaru, fishing columnist Peter Shutt said, and he would like to see more women taking up the pursuit.

"It's a very soothing sport, you don't have to walk far."

With such beautiful surroundings it was easy to miss a catch and enjoy watching the rest of nature instead, he said.

Cancer Society South Canterbury Centre manager Gabrielle Hall said CFR was a great idea.

But the branch did not have enough resources or staff to be involved. Their focus was on recent diagnoses or the acute stage rather than the recovery phase.

BY THE NUMBERS

Number of women diagnosed with breast cancer in South Canterbury

2011: 40
2012: 44

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- The Timaru Herald

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