Most times when you read this blog you should get a sense that you are on a journey, as I take you through a life, a struggle, a challenge, or a world-changing gift you are sharing… and usually the ending of the story brings you full circle in this life.
Yet today, because of the person who is sharing their story… I must begin with the end in mind… because that is how Cassidi Dente is living her life.
“It’s pure visualization. I visualize what I want and I jump to the end result and allow God to build the bridge, cause I can’t build the bridge. I need him and others to build that bridge. It’s not believe it when I see it, it’s – I see it because I believe it.”
To walk again.
Don’t tell Cassidy Dente she can’t or she won’t walk one day. That’s for other people to accept. Cassidi knows her power.
“I almost feel like I was in training for being in this accident before this accident happened,” says Cassidi. “Training to be able to handle what I’m going through right now. I’ve always been positive and teach others to do the same. I’ve been in training for this and I tell the doctors I’m gonna walk again. I don’t care if I’m paralyzed from the chest down. I’ve gotta live with this and deal with it. They would tell me we don’t want to give you false hope. I just say to them, just tell me I’ve got a chance to walk again and I will make it so.”
Seven months ago Cassidi’s life turned upside down, after her car did the same on a Florida road. The accident near her Melbourne home left her in critical condition and in ICU for nearly six weeks – most of those days her life hung in the balance. A severe spinal cord injury left her body unable to handle the single most important component in the sustenance of life – breathing. Yet somehow she held on, waiting for God and the doctors to build that bridge to the other side… a chance at living and the opportunity to take on and view life like never before.
Despite being paralyzed from the chest down… Cassidi is living and winning every day, full of hope and promise. When one of your senses, or a part of you gets shut down, another piece of you rises to the occasion. In Cassidi’s case it’s her mind – and now with the ability to speak again… her voice.
“I’ve lost the use of my legs and my hands and I can’t fix people anymore,” Cassidi says. “I’m a people pleaser. I’m very active. I was doing body building in the gym five days a week. I’m an athlete, I played college basketball. I’ve lost this ability to be all things to all people. I can’t do so many things and I have to ask for help with everything. But I think about what I’m grateful for… and I get to study all day how the mind works and to think of how I am grateful.”
“The greatest tool we have is gratitude to eliminate suffering. You can handle everything if you are grateful. But appreciation is just as important, it’s that silent knowing that everything will be OK. In this game, or this school of life you have to have appreciation.”
Cassidi has so much appreciation for all those who are helping her to build her bridge to her ultimate destiny of walking again.
Family & Father:
“I can’t begin to tell you how unbelievable my family has been helping me get through this. I couldn’t speak for the first month, I couldn’t breathe on my own. I was lost in anxiety because I couldn’t move my body. I couldn’t tell anyone when I couldn’t breathe. But my dad came up with a system where he wrote down the alphabet – one letter at a time – and going letter by letter help me to form sentences. Imagine having to create even one sentence this way. I kept wanting to say forget it, but he had the patience to keep going and to do that. Once my trache was finally removed he bought me a voice-box you put on the hole in your throat and I suddenly had a voice. At the end of my time there he donated it to the hospital. He recently bought a special van just so I could be transported to my hair appointment and go to this special healer in Tampa.”
“At the rehab facility, the Shepherd Center in Georgia – everything started to set in. I was on so many drugs while I was in ICU, but at the Shepherd Center they took me off everything – it’s when I got clarity and realized I’m still paralyzed. Every morning I woke up someone new was washing me down. I saw the basketball hoop there and started to cry. I would see people walking and think they are not even grateful they can do this. I just watched TV, zoned out. I needed my mom. God put my mom in that place at that time. I would not have survived without my mom. ”
There was also a special friend who came to visit every single day as well. Cassidi works for USHEATLH Advisors as a field training agent and one of the new hires last year is a man named Ron Leonard. In Cassidi’s time of struggle, Ron was there.
“Ron Leonard came every single morning, without fail,” says Cassidi. “He would bring me a smoothie, and he would feed me breakfast. He would wash my face, make sure he used my lotion and then he would get me ready in the morning. He did that every morning at 6am before he would go to work. Even if other people were there, Ron always came.” There was also the outpouring of love and of donations from all the USHA family. Cassidi says she was overwhelmed and made joyful. The people she works with, are “closer than her closest friends”. The friends who become part of your family you meet along the way.
The Dente family is a big one – Cassidi has seven other siblings, and all are pitching in to help, but she says it’s her sister Madison who is her primary caretaker, she’s the one as Cassidi says is “doing all the dirty work”. Madison handles all of Cassidi’s morning program, from showering to toileting to dressing. These are the parts of the process, the new pieces of Cassidi’s life she says are some of the most challenging to take – since none can be done alone – she’s lost her ability to be self-sufficient in these areas, but she chooses to not allow them to impact her positive outlook and know that there’s hope there right in front of her instead. Cassidi says she detaches herself from the morning routine, closing her eyes, blocking her consciousness and visualizing a magical future.
To walk again.
The magic is already starting to happen. For months the doctors told Cassidi she was paralyzed and would never be able to move from her chest down for the rest of my life. But while in the Shepherd Center Cassidi learned of a “healer”, a paralysis specialist who helps to “un-paralyze” people. His name is Ken Bryant and once he touched Cassidi her life changed. “Ken has a sign on his wall,” says Cassidi. “It reads If It’s Burning, It’s Working.”
For months now Cassidi has been burning. A few minutes after Ken put his hands on different parts of her body Cassidi says her insides got “turned on”. She could feel the warmth in her lower back, in her triceps. Another session with Ken and she could feel the same warmth in her legs and her toes. Twenty-minutes later she was doing a leg press. Prior to all of this Cassidi says she had no movement at all from the chest down. Now the warmth of these small miracles fills her body and touches her soul.
And it’s Cassidi who is touching many souls. In our conversation for this story Cassidi and I talked about how it’s God who decides who he will test – who will carry the greatest burden, because He knows they can take it, they can make it and they can share to help others to truly live.
It’s happening. You won’t meet a more grounded, certain and hopeful individual than Cassidi Dente. She simply believes.
“I think everything in life has it’s purpose,” says Cassidi. “While you’re here you get brought to the right people at the right time. I think we have a choice in our life and it’s free will and free will is based out of this choice you make of how you feel and your thoughts. A lot of things in life were meant to be. Whatever you go through and whoever you go to – there’s a message there and you just have to find it. Wherever I go, wherever I end up, whomever I meet, there’s a reason I’m here.”
“We all have a different piece of the puzzle in life, we’re all one puzzle. We’re all doing what we’re doing for a purpose to help us all evolve and grow and what we’re going through you have to believe you signed up to do and you need to see yourself as a warrior who chose to do this life, rather than a victim that’s forced to go through this life.
A warrior who will walk again.
Until next time thanks for taking the time.