Running strong: Wayzata High student discusses volunteerism award, beating cancer

Miranda Mead is a Prudential Spirit of Community Award state honoree

Wayzata High School junior Miranda Mead in her Plymouth home, one year after starting radiation therapy at the Mayo Clinic for Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Jason Jenkins)
Wayzata High School junior Miranda Mead in her Plymouth home, one year after starting radiation therapy at the Mayo Clinic for Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Jason Jenkins)

The last 15 months have been busy for Miranda Mead.

The Wayzata High School student spent a week in Hawaii with her family. She hosted an event on the National Mall in Washington D.C. and took a trip to New York City that included a midnight photoshoot in Times Square.

Miranda also went through 14 rounds of chemotherapy and 41 days of radiation therapy to battle Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer that affects about 225 children and adolescents in the U.S. each year.

“Things went great. I handled the Ewing’s sarcoma protocol really well,” Miranda says from her Plymouth home.

“Exceptionally well,” Miranda’s mom Julie interjects. “She had two delays the entire time… That is essentially unheard of. … We’re very thankful that she tolerated treatment so well.”

Miranda’s treatment included being one of the first few dozen youth patients to go through Mayo Clinic’s new proton beam therapy program, which uses a precise beam of protons that doesn’t harm surrounding tissue. Because Miranda’s tumor was located at the base of her spine, surgery was too risky.

“It’s amazing to think of where we were a year ago,” her mom said.

In the last year, Miranda has also become an advocate for awareness and funds for children’s cancer research.

Miranda Mead prepares for her CureFest for Childhood Cancer hosting duties. The event was held this past September on the National Mall in Washington D.C. (Submitted photo)
Miranda Mead prepares for her CureFest for Childhood Cancer hosting duties. The event was held this past September on the National Mall in Washington D.C. (Submitted photo)

The Truth 365, a grassroots documentary film and social media campaign, reached out to Miranda to help give a voice to children fighting cancer. Miranda has become an active spokesperson for the cause, participating in photo shoots, public service announcements and speaking engagements.

Her newfound role as an advocate included hosting CureFest for Childhood Cancer in Washington D.C. and Shave for a Cure on Wall Street at the New York Stock Exchange. She has also been invited to speak at other various events, including this past year’s Twin Cities Marathon and an event at Anoka-Ramsey Community College.

“It was a talent I realized I had after I was diagnosed,” Miranda said of her public speaking abilities.

Also during her New York trip, Miranda met Imke, a young girl who had recently moved with her family to the U.S. from South Africa to seek treatment for neuroblastoma cancer.

Miranda Mead meets with Imke, a young girl who had recently moved with her family to the U.S. from South Africa to seek treatment for neuroblastoma cancer. The two met this past September during Miranda’s trip to New York City. (Submitted photo)
Miranda Mead meets with Imke, a young girl who had recently moved with her family to the U.S. from South Africa to seek treatment for neuroblastoma cancer. The two met this past September during Miranda’s trip to New York City. (Submitted photo)

“It was really powerful,” Miranda said.

“It reminded me of when Miranda was first diagnosed. … You just get on this roller coaster, and we were on it for almost a year,” Julie said. “You can’t get off, and you don’t get asked if you want a break.”

Miranda’s advocacy work for children’s cancer awareness, which also includes work with the Mayo Clinic, Make-A-Wish and Hyundai Hope On Wheels, inspired her to apply for the Prudential Spirit of Community Award. The nationwide program honors young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.

Miranda recently learned that she had been selected as one of two state honorees for the award, a first for a student from Wayzata High. The Minnesota student selected for the middle school level is Minnetonka Middle School West sixth grader Ariana Feygin. The award includes a $1,000 scholarship and an all-expense-paid trip in May to Washington D.C. for a four days of national recognition events. During the trip, 10 students will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2017.

“I’m so excited,” Miranda said.

Miranda will receive the state award during the March 13 Wayzata School Board meeting in Wayzata.

But life for Miranda isn’t entirely back to usual. She’ll continue going to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis for scans in case the cancer returns.

Miranda Mead spoke in September during the Shave for a Cure fundraising event at the New York Stock Exchange. (Submitted photo)
Miranda Mead spoke in September during the Shave for a Cure fundraising event at the New York Stock Exchange. (Submitted photo)

“For the next five years, I’ll have scans every three months,” she said.

But throughout that process, life will go on. Miranda, an avid athlete and runner for Wayzata High, said she hopes to return to the sport by this fall for cross country. She also plans on continuing her work with The Truth 365 and has begun touring colleges. The Wayzata High student said she is interested in studying science – biology, perhaps.

“I feel like I understand science because I’ve lived it, and I definitely want to go into something cancer-related as a profession,” she said.

Running her hand through a tuft of newly grown hair, Miranda said her athletic mentality has proven essential in her fight against cancer and keeping up with day-to-day life as a teenager.

“I’m a very, very, very competitive person,” Miranda said. “If you were to ask what personality traits describe me, competitive would be the top three.”

Contact Jason Jenkins at [email protected]

Wayzata High School sophomore Miranda Mead and her mom, Julie, in their Plymouth home Feb. 9. (Sun Sailor photo by Jason Jenkins)
Wayzata High School sophomore Miranda Mead and her mom, Julie, in their Plymouth home Feb. 9. (Sun Sailor photo by Jason Jenkins)