Lorraine SMITH

Published Jan 28, 2005, “Sandra’s Determination” explores Sandra Cassell’s journey after discovering she has been diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP), and her subsequent loss of sight to the illness. For those of you not familiar with Sandra’s remarkable story, you soon will be.
Cassell was diagnosed with RP, a degenerative eye disease in 2001.
At the time, Sandra was a mother of three (3), and a social worker. Despite this setback, Sandra was able to maintain a healthy quality of life for herself, and her family.
In reaction to her diagnosis, Cassell states that she “was served with a triple whammy […] I am a woman, I’m black and I’m blind.” Even in her condition, Sandra Cassell never gave up hope, maintaining that “the sky is the limit.”
With the constant and loving support of her family, her faith in God, and her determination to live a fulfilling life, Sandra was able to overcome her new situation, making her stronger for it.
Reading her story demonstrates the power of prayer and faith in God. Through Him, Sandra gained the strength to persevere. When she claims that “I feel really blessed, chosen and highly-favoured despite the fact that I cannot see, I cannot even explain it, God carried me and is still carrying me; He has never forsaken me. He is always there like footprints in the sand.”
Happily married to her wonderful and supportive husband, and their eight-month old boy. Sandra’s eldest daughter, whom was also diagnosed with cancer in 2004, remains healthy, and in remission, working towards her career in health care. Cassell is also the mother of twins, who are set to graduate high school, and head off to college.
For the past 10 years Sandra has been gainfully employed as a professional social worker at the MAB-Mackay Rehabilitation Center. She is proud to say that she is the first blind social worker to be employed at the former Montreal Association for the blind in the history of its existence. Cassell is also currently writing a fiction novel.
Recent technological advancements in the field have come up with potential solutions that might restore some vision to patients with RP, as well as macular degeneration. This new medical advancement, named Argus 11 Retinal Prosthesis, or the Bionic Eye, was very exciting to Cassell. This is the first-ever implanted device that treats adults suffering with RP.
Sandra was recently approved as candidate for this new medical treatment, which costs over $200,000CA and is not funded by the government or insurance programmes. She was placed on the waiting list at the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital Foundation for funding. For more information on how to support her cause, please visit the hospital website at [LINK].
This optimistic Sandra is hoping that she will have the implant done by the end of 2016, and that she will be able to finally see how her children have grown over the years, as well as her new baby, and loving husband.
“God really does answer prayers”, says Sandra, and with a little faith he can and will answer yours too.