CASTING FOR RECOVERY / KATIE’S STORY
Katie Cahn is the embodiment of perseverance. Through her battle with Cancer, she has dedicated herself to finding ways to uplift those fighting similar battles by utilizing her own experiences. Here, Katie walks us through her story of survival and perseverance, and how alongside Casting for Recovery, she embodies what it really means to be an angler driving change.
Katie Cahn’s story is of something just as unique and powerful as the energy she brings to her life and those around her every day. Throughout our lives, our stories unfold in front of us, unraveling the expectations that we had set. In their place, new experiences rise; many derived from trial and tribulation.
Katie, an untamable adventurer at heart, grew up on and by the water. After her mother placed her in a whitewater kayak when she was 12, Katie began her journey into the world of discovering all the lessons the water had to offer. When she reached college and began studying at Western Carolina University, Katie finally picked up a fly-rod and began the journey of learning how to operate a tool that demanded so much finesse. Through self-teaching and hours watching instructional internet videos, Katie began to dive deeper into the sport of fly-fishing. Just as most of her exploratory pursuits proved, experience often came at the hands of failure. However, Katie never gave up – striving to learn, and celebrating each fish landed as a small, but meaningful victory.
In 2016, just weeks after marrying her husband, Katies life changed forever. In September, after experiencing some unexplainable back pain, she received earth-shattering news that she had been diagnosed with (Renal Cell Carcinoma) RCC, a common form of Kidney cancer.
“What was supposed to be the happiest time of my life, turned out to be the hardest…”, says Katie.
The day after her diagnosis, Katie was on the operating table having her kidney removed. “That was the easy part. The hard part was the depression I experienced soon after.”
Coming back from having your understanding of the world around you completely turned sideways is no easy task. Fear and confusion often make way for depression to metastasize within oneself – similarly to a cancerous cell. In an effort to console the weight of her compromised mental health; Katie tuned to the water.
By utilizing the feeling and rhythm of the river, Katie sought solace in a place that presented unshakable truth. The inner turmoil that plagued her, now forever forcing her to bear the weight of being considered a “cancer survivor”, slowly soaked into the current that ran past her boots. Just like crawling from a capsized kayak those many years ago, Katie utilized her strength and determination to meet the challenges that the next day would surely bring head on with optimism, perseverance, and excitement.
It was with the weight she carried that Katie grew stronger. Only 7-months after her diagnosis, she began getting involved with an organization called, “Casting for Recovery”, which is a non-profit focused on helping women with breast cancer, seek the same inspiration on the water through fly-fishing. While Katie hadn’t experienced breast cancer herself, as a cancer survivor she felt this was something she needed to be a part of.
”I listened to these women and felt their pain and just wanted to hug each one of them and let them know I understood what they were going through. I found out later that day that a lot of the volunteers for CfR are cancer survivors and was told that the retreats are about the participants, not the volunteers. Knowing that the volunteers knew what these women were going through made me feel right at home and has helped me heal in so many ways.”
It's been years since her diagnosis, and Katie can be found practicing the celebration of life alongside her husband and daughter every day. Through silver working and jewelry making, volunteer work, part-time guiding, and of course, finding the time to play around in the water, Katie makes it a mission to appreciate the beauty of the world every day, as well as utilize her experiences to help those in need do the same.
“Since the diagnosis my mission lies with interpersonal health and wellbeing. I know that mental health is hard to obtain in some situations, whether it be finding a good counselor or a facility that offers free counseling. There are many people suffering from mental illness. I share my story not only for my own healing, but to help others heal as well.”
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