A better life through helping others

As a child, I was very sporty. But my dream of playing sport professionally was squashed when I developed terrible knee pain. Later, I went to college to study Leisure and Tourism. I also applied to be a flight attendant, but failed the medical. At 17, as the pain in my knee continued to increase and spread to my hip, I had surgery. What should have been a 10-day recovery period, turned into three months. I was thrown off my leisure and tourism course, halfway through the last year.

Photo of Cassandra wearing a black top


After that, I was in and out of employment for a number of years. I either lost jobs due to numerous exploratory hospital appointments, flare-ups or simply finding it difficult to get out of bed. Every time I lost a job, or was turned down for a position after disclosing my ‘chronic pain condition’, I went through a roller coaster of emotions and feelings; depression, lack of motivation, hopelessness etc. But after a few months, I’d pick myself up and try again.

After going for counselling, I decided to train as a counsellor myself. However I still found myself in a really low place, with little hope for a happy, successful life and career. Other than being a single mum – which is a job in itself – I was seeking purpose and a career that would accommodate my fluctuating condition.

In my 30s I was finally diagnosed with EDS. I started voluntary work delivering behavioural workshops and mentoring to young people, mainly youth offenders. It was through this work and other sources, such as studying self-help and spiritual practices, I found my purpose; empowering others to empower themselves.

Pandora’s Box, an emotional awareness workshop was born, with the founding of youth organisation Self Empowerment for Life’s Foundation (SELF) shortly after. I have been a managing co-director for four years. We create and deliver personal development workshops and mentoring to young people from all walks of life.

Additionally, over the past five years I have supported many adults in achieving their goals. Having broken through many of my own barriers, I decided to study Life Coaching and officially launch myself as a Personal Growth Empowerment Specialist this year. It brings me an immense amount of satisfaction and purpose.

I continue to face the challenge of being able to earn a decent living around fluctuating pain and energy levels, which often affect my mood and motivation, but what keeps me going is the knowledge that I’ve helped someone grow, achieve their goals and live a happier life, as well as not having an employer breathing down my neck. I’m accountable to my clients and that works just fine for me.