October is breast cancer awareness month - Worcestershire’s breast cancer patients fishing for a therapy
Breast cancer patients are offered many different treatments and therapies throughout their diagnosis, but few would expect to take up fly fishing as a way of helping recovery from the disease.
In Worcestershire, thanks to the support of the Worcestershire Breast Unit Haven and the generosity of local fishing instructors, that’s just what a group of women are doing.
The sport which involves a fishing rod and an artificial fly as bait, emerged as a form of breast cancer therapy in the United States in the late-1990s, and is now growing in popularity in the UK.
It may sound far-fetched, but the physical action of casting a line is similar to the physiotherapy exercises prescribed post-surgery to breast cancer patients, helping stretch soft tissue and build up arm muscle.
There are psychological benefits too – fishing is well known as a relaxing pursuit and allows cancer survivors to take a mental break from their treatment, meet others and have fun.
The local Worcestershire and Gloucestershire ‘Fishing for Life’ group, support women going through breast cancer, at different stages of diagnosis and treatment. The group, meets monthly at Broad Oak Lakes, Hanley Castle, near Malvern, providing cost-free days out fishing and eating in picturesque surroundings.
The sessions give the women the chance to learn a new skill and spend time outdoors rather than dwell on their medical cases in a hospital environment. They also act like support groups for breast cancer survivors at different stages of their treatment.
Michelle Cheeseman, a breast cancer survivor from Worcester said: “I heard about fly fishing through an open evening at the Worcestershire Breast Unit Haven where they had different people come along to talk about various therapies and activities that can help with treatment for breast cancer.
“I had never been fishing before, and really wasn’t sure if it was for me, but it was brilliant, learning a new skill is really positive and it felt very therapeutic. The lakes are in amazing locations, surrounded by pretty scenery which provides a really relaxing environment to share your thoughts or concerns with other people who have been through the same thing and know how you are feeling.”
“There are people there from all different stages of their treatment and it really has been inspirational and given me a change in perspective. I didn’t think it would be for me, but it is like nothing you could imagine, I’d encourage anyone to give it a go!”
Roger Patrick, Fishing for Life group instructor and fly fishing coach said: “We support people suffering from, living with or recovering from breast cancer. The benefits of fly fishing are both physical and psychological or social.
“Spending time focussed on trying to catch trout or tie a fly in beautiful, peaceful and scenic surroundings provides a respite to the challenges faced elsewhere. Our meetings are free of charge and all the necessary tackle and equipment is provided.”
The Worcestershire Breast Unit Haven supports and promotes a number of activities or therapies to support patients and improve their quality of life, these range from physical activities such as pilates, yoga and walking, to ‘Look Good, Feel Better’ masterclasses, singing groups and even dragon boat racing.