Cassandra with daughters Jasmine and Jessica








Joy with her two daughters, Jasmine & Jessica


My name is Cassandra Joy Purnell, affectionately called “Joy”.  I was born in the hottest month of the year in Texas (August) 1961. I am the middle child, bookended by two brothers. We grew up in a great middle class household. A lot of love flowed throughout our immediate and extended family. Both brothers played football. The big one went to TCU and the little one went to East Texas University. I made the best decision (smile) by going to The University of Texas, where I played basketball.

Life progressed, marriage, two girls, taught school and coached basketball, obtained a few degrees, divorced and my final job, administrator over Special Education Department at a high school.

One day, I left school early and drove straight to my doctor because I felt so bad. I was immediately admitted to the hospital because my blood pressure had sky rocketed and I had developed a slight slur. I was told that I’d had a slight stroke though no definitive evidence. Over the next year, I had a myriad of diagnostic test and therapies. Instead of improving, my condition worsened, particularly, my speech. This had a direct impact on my employment since I spoke for a living. I was placed on administrative leave.

My Mom and I went to yet another routine specialist referred by my local neurologist. Just as routinely that doctor sat me down and told me I had ALS and would be gone in 2 years. That was not a good day.

We were referred to Dr. Stanley Appell at the Methodist Hospital in Houston where the diagnosis was confirmed. We are still under his care.

A lot of tears, disbelief, wringing of hands, why-me(s).

More of Jesus, family, friends, my Pastor and church family support, hope, love.

I’m still here…trusting God, the Author and Finisher…

While I try to figure it out, God has already worked it out.

I am now at the stage where I have to rely on my family and professional home health caregivers for help with my daily routine.  While in the Methodist Hospital for surgery, Rebecca, my counselor introduced us to Patricia Sehorn and Sherry Dolejsi of the Dennis Sehorn Foundation. Upon meeting them in person, we found them to be the most caring and loving people you will ever meet. They have so graciously agreed to help me with my professional home health care expense that I so desperately need. I thank God for this beautiful family and the love they have shown through this foundation.


This is a letter we received in August 2014 from Joy’s Family:

Hello, Just a little note to say thanks again. Joy’s 53rd birthday was Sunday. She was able to go to church for the early morning service (8:00) after which the girls planned a surprise birthday dinner for her and invited many of her closest friends and family. One in particular was her college roommate who has remain in close contact through the years. Also her best friend in high school who was also in her wedding and had not seen each other in about 10 years. She was so elated, she just cried with happy tears of joy. She had a wonderful day and we thank God for that experience for her.

We hope all is well with your family. May God continue to bless.


Joy’s Family

December 2014:  Our hearts are heavy with sadness…Joy went home to be with her Lord.  Thank you for allowing us to help you and your family – you brought us so much joy. 



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