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NCFM member Steven DeLuca article “It’s not about the fish” featured in Cancer Resource Center of Mendocino County newsletter

May 10, 2012

By Steven DeLuca

Recently, Rita Martinez, “Patient Navigator” for CRCMC sent me information about the fly fishing program titled “Reel Recovery” for men with cancer or cancer survivors.  Although fishing isn’t my thing, I decided to go, on Rita’s recommendation.  The program took place at Clear Water Lodge in Fall River Mills, CA.  This is one of the most beautiful settings one can imagine.  The meals, the gear and the lodging were all free.  If I were writing a MasterCard advertisement I would add, “the counselors and guides: priceless.” These men, with decades of fly-fishing experience, traveled hundreds of miles to share their skills with men with cancer.  The counselor joked about men in the past who had thought of leaving early to avoid the “time share pitch” – a pitch that never came.  The first day of fishing I felt much the same way. Fly fishing seemed too complicated, too much expensive gear was needed, and it took up too much time. However, by the second day I changed my mind.  The reasons for the change are too numerous to list. In two days, the participants went from strangers to a band of brothers.  I will see several again, including men that tried to teach me to get the fly to land where they could easily put it.

……. There were nine of us; groups are never more than twelve.  Men who could have filled those three empty spaces missed out.  The age range can be from young to very old.  I saw great differences in education, politics, religions, and more, but we hardly noticed these differences.  We focused on what we had in common: We all “got it.” We got that life is short and then you die – leaving friends and family behind to grieve.  We got that rich, or poor, PhD’s or cowboys, the feelings are the same.  We got that some of us were destined for painful deaths while others might escape, and we got that there is no way to know for sure who it will be. We knew that men who had been through the program recently and signed their names to fishing vests, were gone.  There is horror and there is hope.  That’s life.  And then we worked on “getting” our ABC’s of fly-fishing from the men who knew it all – from A to Z.

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