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Health Center Today, April 13, 2011

Auxiliary Working to Help Survivors Cast Away Their Cancer

By Chris DeFrancesco

Photo of Mike Motyl

Professional fly tyer Mike Motyl gives a fly-tying demonstration at the UConn Health Center April 11.

Photos by Janine Gelineau

Photo of a fishing fly

Fly tying is a craft that attempts to replicate nature to help anglers attract fish.

Marcia Reid Marsted believes a positive attitude and a calming environment can do wonders for a healing body.

The former UConn Health Center employee and volunteer would know. She’s beaten two cancers.

Two hobbies helped her through those battles. One was photography.

“I found that using my photography to document what was going on with my life and my world during my treatment helped me to think of something besides how I felt,” Marsted says. “Doing what made me happy helped me to be more positive day to day.”

It also led to her publishing the book “About My Hair: A Journey to Recovery,” a collection of photographs to go with a narrative of what she went through.

Along the way Marsted took up fly fishing, which she describes as “kind of Zen.” She’s convinced of its therapeutic benefits.

“It’s relaxing, very meditative,” Marsted says. “The environment helps calm the people who are doing the fishing. Being calm and relaxed and not focused on how you feel is good for the sick person. The more positive you are about your life and how you feel about the world around you, the better it is for your health and ability to get over your cancer.”

Photo of Pauline Bishop and Irene Engel

Pauline Bishop from Casting for Recovery (left) and UConn Health Center Auxiliary Facilitator Irene Engel accept registrations for the Auxiliary’s pig roast fundraiser at Winding Trails in Farmington April 30.

It’s that belief that drives the concept of Casting for Recovery, a Vermont nonprofit that organizes fly fishing retreats for breast cancer survivors.

In an effort to send at least two people to this summer’s retreat in West Cornwall, the UConn Health Center Auxiliary invites everyone to a pig roast fundraiser April 30 at Winding Trails in Farmington.

“We met with the Casting for Recovery folks last summer and were very impressed,” says Auxiliary Facilitator Irene Engel, herself a breast cancer survivor. “There’s no doubt in my mind the work they’re doing is making a really big difference in these women’s lives. We hope to help a few more women experience that this year.”

Fly fishing is the theme of the art exhibit that will be on display in the Health Center’s main lobby and mezzanine through May 4. “Angling Art” features the work of 14 fly fishing artists. A fly tying demonstration was held at the Health Center April 11. A fly casting demonstration is scheduled for April 20 in the center courtyard, and another fly tying demonstration will take place outside the Food Court April 26.

The Winding Trails event will include a raffle, art sale, music from the Blue Skye Boys, and demonstrations on fly casting and fly tying. Tickets are $50, of which $20 is tax deductible, and will be available at the Connucopia Gift Shop, or by calling 860-679-8004. Download a ticket form >

More information about Marsted’s book, “About My Hair: A Journey to Recovery,” is available through or at More information about the Capelli d’Angeli Foundation, which she established in 2004 to publish a new edition of the book, is available at