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Inaugural Florida Retreat for Military Women with Breast Cancer

Casting for Recovery (CfR), a national nonprofit organization providing fly fishing retreats for women with breast cancer at no cost, recently held a specialty retreat for military women. The event was generously sponsored by BAE Systems. Retreat participants, representing Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard, came together in Florida to experience healing connections with each other and nature.

BAE group photo

Retreat participants and volunteer staff from CfR and BAE Systems.

Casting for Recovery recognizes the need for greater support services for military women with breast cancer. Women in the U.S. have a 1 in 8 lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. Among military women, the incidence of breast cancer is even higher; a 2009 Walter Reed Army Medical Center study concluded that military women are 20%—40% more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than their civilian peers in the same age groups.

“Services provided by the VA and Wounded Warrior units are often geared towards men,” says CfR National Program Director, Susan Gaetz. “There is a high need for programming to address the unique and often complicated needs of military women with breast cancer. BAE Systems is taking an active role in filling that need, and we are grateful for their support.”

The retreat was held November 9-11, 2018 — Veterans Day weekend — in Starke, FL. Participants came from throughout the Southeast. Oncology and psychosocial professionals supported women navigating issues related to their military and cancer experience, such as treatment options, side effects, PTSD, Military Sexual Trauma (MST), and depression. Fly fishing, which challenges both the mind and body, served as an outlet for coping with the challenges of these topics.

Participants describe the most powerful aspects of the retreat experience: “Not having to explain cancer treatments, military words and being allowed to be me. The feeling of sisterhood.  We truly understood each other. Having a kinship of being both breast cancer survivors and in the military. We all had different experiences, but we all, for the most part, have a lot of the same needs.”

In 2017, CfR piloted the first focused military retreat in West Virginia with help from Project Healing Waters and BAE Systems. Building on the success of the pilot, a second retreat was held in early 2018 in Pennsylvania. With the support of BAE Systems, CfR hopes to grow this specialized program and serve more military women with breast cancer throughout the country.

Casting for Recovery

Casting for Recovery® (CfR) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 1996 featuring a unique program that combines breast cancer education and peer support with the therapeutic sport of fly fishing. Their retreats offer opportunities for women to find inspiration, discover renewed energy for life and experience healing connections with other women and nature. CfR’s retreats are open to women with breast cancer of all ages, all stages of treatment or recovery at no cost to the participants.

BAE Systems, Inc

BAE Systems, Inc. is committed to supporting those who go into harm’s way on our country’s behalf, the men and women of the armed forces. Our support of active-duty service members, veterans, and their families is central to our mission of providing a vital advantage to help our customers protect what really matters. BAE Systems proudly invests in the local communities where our employees live and work by supporting organizations that make a positive impact. Our community investment programs include employee based volunteer and fundraising initiatives and corporate giving.

 

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