The Cassandra Gilbert Story
Brave. Tough. Stubborn. Inspirational.
Cassandra Gilbert, Cass to her husband Jase, Cassie to her friends, is a fighter. She’s been a fighter her whole life, challenging herself with 10k races, climbing, high plains living in Bishop, near Mammoth, and working through whatever life throws her way with humility and positivity.
Cassandra discovered her breast cancer in July 2018, on Friday the 13th, no less. After brushing off signs of a change, her friends encouraged her to get herself checked out. What they found changed her world, and continues to make her feel like she’s in a different life. Nonetheless, she takes each step of this journey in stride, and fights for a sense of normalcy. Her passion is returning back to her students each and every day and giving every part of life her all.
Her doctors scrambled for tests, and assessed her as Stage 2 due to the size and location of her tumors. She opted for a double-mastectomy. Her surgery was on a Friday, scheduled specifically so she could start the school year with her fifth graders at Timberline PK-8 the following Tuesday. “People said I was crazy, but how could I leave my students?”
This mindset has driven every appointment she has scheduled. Her number one goal, aside from fighting her cancer, is to maintain a sense of normalcy for her students. Her empathy for how her students will be affected by substitute teachers and varying schedules has given her the strength to be assertive with her doctors about when she needs each stage of chemotherapy and radiation to take place. All for her students.
Cassandra married Jase, a Colorado native, after they met at a rock climbing gym in California, Five years later, they had Chloe, now a sixth grader at Longs Peak Middle School. Chloe is a brave fighter too. She’s handling her mother’s journey well, but she also recognizes that there are misconceptions about cancer, and she wants to have her own life be as normal as possible.
The whole family is brave.
Cassandra’s road to teaching is the stuff of the best stories. She earned a BA in English, with a focus on writing. She set her sights on high school, then visited a Kindergarten class. She has been in love with elementary students since, and she adores her fifth graders. Teaching is never easy. It is always about putting others before you, and putting a classroom of children before you is what every teacher does, every day.
Cassandra’s road to recovery is the stuff of perseverance. Dealing with cancer is an onslaught of information, scheduling, and treatment. As she dealt with 20 weeks of chemotherapy, and now radiation – she has leaned on her family, work, and her students for motivation – as she simultaneously put them all before her. That’s hard on the best of days, but add on feeling sick every single day. Add on taking care of her daughter, and losing her normalcy. Cassandra is brave.
Cassandra is an avid runner, and this year, she has not been able to run. Well, not as much as she’s used to running, because, have we mentioned she’s tough? Stubborn? She did run the Rhythm on the River 5k the day she received her diagnosis. After surgery, she ran a 5k with a surgical drain still in her side. Her focus, drive, and positivity clearly has guided her to push through. She’s no-excuses and no-nonsense. Her attitude about life, running, and being a part of a team can be felt through her blog on https://runninghedgehog.com/.
We are proud to support Cassandra Gilbert as the 2019 Happy Smackah. We thank you for your help and support in any way that you are capable – by participating in our Happy Smackah 5k Fun Run on May 11th, through a General donation, or by Volunteering.