ENID, Okla. — Cassandra Bennett, from Enid, a mother of six, is a fighter.
18 months ago Cassandra gave birth to a baby boy.
Soon after, she began experiencing unusual symptoms that were finally diagnosed as ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
ALS destroys nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord responsible for controlling the body’s muscles.
There is no cure and it is almost always fatal.
After researching treatment options, Cassandra and her mom were led to the Oklahoma Stem Cell Institute in Edmond and the husband and wife physician team of doctors – Larry and Gina Ressler.
“There is definitely a growing body of medical evidence that’s showing people who are receiving stem cell therapies are improving,” says Dr. Larry Ressler.
What is a stem cell and why are they looked upon as such powerful healers, almost as a miracle treatment even for people with ALS?
Stem cells are healthy cells that don’t know what they want to be until they are injected into a specific area where unhealthy and dying cells are crying out to the stem cells for help.
“The communication is thru cytokine’s,” says Dr. Ressler. “It’s the damaged and dying cells that are releasing these cytokines and any stem cells that happen to be in the area are attracted to that. And they come and migrate to that area and then are stimulated to then turn themselves into whatever cell needs to be replaced.”
Doctor Ressler was able to harvest some of Cassandras own stem cells and the FDA has recently approved a procedure that expands stem cells to many times their original numbers.
5 million of these expanded stem cells were injected into Cassandra.
And it’s seems to be working.
She is able to cross her legs now which was not possible until the stem cell therapy.
The biggest improvement is walking short distances without needing assistance.
ALS has robbed her of her ability to talk for now.
She’s forced to write out her responses to her doctors in Edmond and to her family and friends.
When asked what she wanted the most out of this cutting edge therapy, the message she scrawled on her iPad was both moving and heartfelt from a woman who wants to be there for her children.
“I’ve never be able to sing to my baby and I’m afraid to be a burden to my family. I want to be me,” her message read.
Her family is hoping the stem cell therapy will help make that dream come true but it’s not cheap and not covered by insurance.