TREASURE VALLEY, Idaho — "He said I realized I can't retreat from this, I need to embrace every day. Cancer might get me, but it's not gonna kill me today or tomorrow. I need to be present for my family, for myself," said Idaho2Fly Treasurer Chris Preston.
Hearing that uplifting statement from a cancer patient who was struggling with chemotherapy was what made Chris Preston want to join the team at Idaho2Fly, a non-profit organization that takes men with cancer on fly fishing trips.
"Most of our volunteers have a personal connection to cancer. We either have cancer ourselves, have loved ones with cancer, or both, and we just find that when we get people out in that environment and get everybody together, it makes them realize they're not alone and it's easier for people to have those discussions and articulate their feelings about their disease in a remote environment like that," said Preston.
Guys like Steve Drabeck, who found out two years ago that his prostate cancer had returned. He was referred to Idaho2Fly by a Treasure Valley nurse.
"I thought, you know, I've never fly fished before and what the heck. This might be an opportunity to get out and enjoy nature and enjoy some of this, and found out it wasn't just the fly fishing that was important and rewarding, it was the discussion groups that we had. There were 15 men in my group, and sitting down, going through, through and talking about our journey. That meant a lot...that meant a lot," said Idaho2Fly Zoom Ambassador and participant Steve Drabeck.
Little did many of the participants know that Idaho2Fly wouldn't just be helping them, but also their loved ones.
"Many people, they don't feel like they should share with their wives or children, even if their children are adults and we make them understand, look, they're just gonna think something way worse. Even if what you have is terrible, somehow they're gonna think it's even worse than that," said Preston.
"I began to open up about my fears and my feelings about what was going on. And it helped out a lot," said Drabeck.
We may not have a cure for cancer yet, but we always have hope and strength. Idaho2Fly is giving both of those to men all across the Gem State.
"Cancer's such an ugly word. Guys go through life feeling invincible and when that word hits them in the face, all of a sudden they recognize that vulnerability, but they still try to hold that in, and I think Idaho2Fly is that kind of organization that can help open these guys up and really deal with the challenges they're gonna have, the journey they're gonna have, the fears that they have, and being able to see that they're not the only one in this challenge in going through it, it really helps change they're perspective and helps them enjoy life again," said Drabeck.
Idaho2Fly normally offers three annual all-expenses-paid fly fishing retreats for men with any type of cancer, however last year those retreats were canceled due to the pandemic. Instead, they switched over to Zoom meetings where they got together virtually to help and support each other.
This year, two of the three retreats have been canceled, but one will still be running in early October at Three Rivers Ranch near Ashton, Idaho. For more information, to apply for the program, or to volunteer, head to idaho2fly.org.
Idaho2Fly is participating in Idaho Gives, a campaign that helps Idaho non-profits get donations from people all over the state. So far, Idaho2Fly has raised $1,825 from 17 donors. If you would like donate to Idaho2Fly through Idaho Gives, click here.