CEO and Co-owner, Greenough Packaging, age 38
Sandy Cassanelli says you always remember the day you were diagnosed with cancer. You don’t circle the date on the calendar, and you certainly don’t celebrate it, but you don’t ever forget. That’s because that date marks the beginning of a journey in which every emotion gets a workout, she said, one where the ending can’t be seen or predicted.
Cassanelli’s journey through diagnosis and treatment of stage 3 breast cancer included a bilateral mastectomy — “I knew I had to have one breast removed, and decided I didn’t want to go through this again, so I had them both removed” — as well as eight rounds of chemotherapy and then radiation. That last radiation treatment came in February, and soon thereafter, she was declared cancer-free.
Looking back on that journey, she said that what enabled her to keep going was all that she had going on in her life, and a firm desire not to relinquish any of it because she was sick. And the compilation pretty much tells her story.
In order, there’s her family — her husband, Craig, and daughters Samantha and Amanda — and the many things they do together. Then there’s the family business, Greenough Packaging. Casanelli was working as a travel agent for World Wrestling Entertainment, arranging flights and hotels for the Rock, the Undertaker, and others, when she and Craig opted to buy Greenough in 2003 from the estate of a deceased uncle who ran it. The West Springfield-based company distributes an array of cleaning and packaging supplies and paper goods, and the Casanellis, through a strong focus on customer service, have registered consistent growth.
“It’s a completely different experience,” she said of her profound career shift. “I love being a business owner, and I like that we’re creating jobs for people.”
And then, there’s her work in the community — everything from involvement with the West of the River Chamber of Commerce to her work on the board for the Glastonbury (Conn.) Education Foundation.
“Having the company and all the work in the community that I do has helped me move forward and barrel through it,” she said, “and not focus on the fact that I had that disease. It really helped me get through the rough days.”
— George O’Brien