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Success Story: Cassandra Zhao

Battling Anorexia

Success Story - Cassandra | Share LawyersCassandra had always been a very active person, having played varsity volleyball in university. Cassandra’s team spirit extended into her work and social life, and she was always easy to get along with and generally very cheerful. By the time she was in her mid-30s, Cassandra had worked her way up to management at a major bank in Kingston. She led an active lifestyle, playing sports evenings and weekends.

One slippery day, Cassandra suffered a pretty serious ankle sprain when out for a run. Her doctor told her she needed to stay away from physical activities for a little while. Around this time, Cassandra’s father was diagnosed with cancer and she was commuting from Kingston to Toronto every weekend. They had a  trained relationship and his illness was very stressful. Cassandra was feeling overwhelmed and was afraid that she would gain weight since she wasn’t exercising. Cassandra began to avoid eating carbohydrates and felt comfort in knowing that one thing she could control was her food intake.

Cassandra’s weight plummeted in a very short period of time. Her coworkers noticed she either seemed irritable or sad, which was not untrue as she began to feel totally depressed. All of her stress and anxiety was focused on what she ate and the number on the scale.

She went to her GP who told her she was seriously underweight and diagnosed her with Anorexia Nervosa. Her doctor recommended she get treatment right way because she was at risk of doing serious damage to her heart and other organs. She referred her to the Homewood Health Centre’s Eating Disorder Program a voluntary inpatient program, where she would receive treatment from a general physician, therapist, nutritionist, social workers, and a plethora of other professionals where she could heal in a community.

When she applied to her insurance for long term disability leave, she was denied on the basis that her symptoms were not severe enough to prevent her from working, and therefore was not entitled to benefits. Cassandra felt guilt, shame, and anger when she heard this. Her doctors told her that she was dealing with a mental illness that was threatening her life. Why didn’t the insurance company understand?

Her mother saw an online advertisement for Share Lawyers a few weeks after Cassandra moved home. She booked an appointment and brought Cassandra. Understanding the urgency of her situation, the Share Lawyers team sent Cassandra to an eating disorders and mental health specialist to compile more medical evidence that Cassandra should be given long-term disability support. While the legal process was tiring and stressful, Cassandra felt supported by Share Lawyers. Even if she called three times in one week, they always returned her call.

After a challenging battle with the insurance company, Share Lawyers was able to get Cassandra the financial resources she needed to spend time getting well. We were so happy to help Cassandra on her way to wellness.


*All names and identifying details have been changed to protect the confidentiality of all involved.