Sometimes, we can do a bad job advocating. Sometimes it’s easy to advocate for ourselves, and sometimes it’s not, depends on the person. But sometimes the things we keep private, are the things we should be shouting from the rooftops about, so here’s me shouting, and here’s the rooftops.

So what’s Reel Recovery?

“Reel Recovery was founded in 2003, by a group of avid fly-fishers, inspired by their fishing buddy’s ongoing battle with brain cancer. Witnessing first-hand the beneficial impact fly-fishing provided their friend, they created Reel Recovery to provide the same opportunity for other men battling the disease. Combining expert fly-fishing instruction with directed “courageous conversations”, the organization provides men with all forms of cancer a unique opportunity to share their stories, learn a new skill, form lasting friendships and gain renewed hope as they confront the challenges of cancer”.

Being recruited by Travis Swartz,  I was very fortunate to be able to help these folks out at the Mackay Idaho Retreat in July of 2015. I was honored to cook for the fishing buddies, and help out where I could. Having seen my Dad fight (and lose) a long battle with Bladder Cancer for 25 years and losing my Father in law to the deadly disease made me curious as to what they were feeling.

I learned that the most common complaint about friends and loved ones is some of them, and in some cases all of them, fade away from the person living with cancer. I heard that they felt treated like they had communicable disease. Their friends didn’t understand it or didn’t want to be around it, like it was something that could be “caught”.

At a time when they need their loved ones around them the most, the visits, phone calls, texts, skypes, tweets, DM’s, messages and emails get the most scarce. Listening to these courageous men put a punch to my gut. Is society mostly walking away from it and not giving their support? It breaks your heart. I felt so small, like any of my troubles couldn’t compare to the emotional trauma caused by the abandonment these men are feeling.

Something as simple as being able to be a little uncomfortable could mean the world to someone suffering from cancer, so I challenge all of you (including myself) to send that message, make that call, drop by, whatever you have to do to remind them that they aren’t cancer; they are a person living with cancer. It could make all the difference.

I know, my blog is about camp food, and there was food prepared at this retreat. I didn’t see it coming, I felt good initially about going and helping and came home humbled, saddened by the stories of loneliness and battles lost. Also, there is a ton of positives, the lifelong relationships that you create and the comrade you develop with the entire clan. The day we left for our different places of abode was warm and joyful but also full of tears. I for one plan on not taking for granted that people living with cancer. I am going to be there even if it’s a small amount of my life.

Cancer Sucks!
As I prepare for my 5th retreat, being one of the self-appointed State Coordinators (Chef of the Buddies) I have had much more joy and sadness from those lives that touched me. Some of the participants that I was close to have passed: Dayle Temple and Mark Minor- Be Well, Fish on! Others have lived to fight another day.

The Buddies are selfless professional Fishing guides who lay their life down for 12-15 Participants (Men Living with Cancer) for 3 days. Amazing people for a great cause. The men living with cancer get to forget about the brevity of their disease, and get to enjoy the great outdoors with people that have similar issues and life challenges.

I encourage you to check out their website, and learn more about how this organization supports men living with cancer.

http://reelrecovery.org/

I discovered that while fly-fishing, I was in another place. In this place there was no cancer, no pain and no fear.

-In their words, Reel Recovery

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