She’s been the mayor of her town since she was only 20, she survived a life-threatening illness, and she’s been busy preparing a wedding for 375 guests.
But nevermind those potential distractions.
“We didn’t say the vows of sickness and health yet,” Cassandra said during an interview several weeks before the wedding. “But we’ve had the trial and tribulations.”
Cassandra, 25, and Jim, 30, became engaged in September 2010 on a DisneyWorld vacation, just as Jiminy Cricket’s voice came over a loudspeaker inviting people to make a wish.
Jim had the ring in his pocket, Cassandra said yes, and soon her best friend, Ashley Hetro, who’d suspected a proposal was imminent and had been sending “did-he-ask-yet?” messages, received cell-phone confirmation of the good news.
Fast forward to November 2011, when the future bride underwent knee surgery to repair the joint she’d injured as a high-school cheerleader. After reinjuring her knee, she needed follow-up surgery in January 2012.
“Then I woke up one day in March (2012) and couldn’t breathe,” Cassandra said. “I thought I had pneumonia. My sweat was pouring as if I was under the shower head. There was a tingling down my arm. Finally, I got the energy to crawl up the steps.”
Soon she would learn she had “blood clots in both lungs, too many to count,” and significant artery blockage.
“I woke up and didn’t know Jim. I didn’t know my parents,” she said, becoming emotional.
“He sat at my hospital bed … just the support …”
Cassandra’s voice trailed off, and Jim put his arm around her as she wiped her eyes.
For a while, the bride-to-be said, she hadn’t been able to recognize her fiance.
“It was scary,” Jim admitted. “But I knew in my heart her memory would come back.”
It did, but physical strength took a bit longer to return.
“I had to be helped to get dressed,” Cassandra said. “I came out in a wheelchair.”
“My schedule had been so hectic, and then it was a struggle just to walk to the bathroom. I would get exhausted.”
Swimming helped build her up to the point where she has been able to take part in spinning and TRX workouts at a gym, as well as plan a sizable wedding with a matron of honor, maid of honor, 10 bridesmaids, two junior bridesmaids, two flower girls, two best men, nine ushers, and a ring bearer.
The guest list would include many relatives as well as friends the couple has made through school and work — the bride, who grew up in Exeter, is deputy finance director for U.S. Sen. Robert Casey, while the groom, who grew up in New Jersey, works at Mohegan Sun in Plains Township. Their wedding program mentioned departed loved ones, including Joseph F. Coyne III.
The late mayor was the bride’s grandfather, who got sick in 2007 and asked Cassandra, then a political-science major at King’s College, to finish his unexpired term. “I’m one of nine grandchildren,” she said. “Out of all the kids and grandkids, I was the only one who was interested.”
She was elected mayor of Exeter in her own right in 2009.
After the wedding at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Exeter and a reception at Genetti’s in Wilkes-Barre, the couple departed for a cruise to Puerto Rico.