Miranda Mead

Stories of hope: Cancer survivor becomes young advocate for care

By Mayo Clinic Staff

On Miranda Mead's 16th birthday she failed her driving test.

Although she had been looking forward to getting her license for a long time, Miranda couldn't sit without being in pain, and the sporadic numbness in her leg made it worse.

In the spring of her freshman year, Miranda suffered a hard fall on her tailbone. By autumn, although still in pain, she ran on her high school's cross-country team in Wayzata, Minnesota. By the end of the season, the excruciating pain in her back forced Miranda to stop running. Two days after her birthday, when the periodic numbness in her left leg and foot evolved into a complete loss of feeling, she knew it was something more.

An MRI revealed the 16-year-old had a 6-inch, inoperable tumor at the base of her spine. Miranda's biopsy confirmed the diagnosis of Ewing's sarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer.

Miranda had concurrent sessions of chemotherapy at Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota and proton beam therapy at Mayo Clinic. Miranda grew to appreciate the Mayo employees who saw her daily as she completed treatments. "I have a real soft spot for the proton beam staff," says Miranda.

After her experience, she hopes to help others by pursuing a career in radiation oncology. Miranda says she used many of the same strategies she would use in a race to approach her treatment, while her parents marveled at her positive attitude through it all.

Miranda completed her last proton beam treatment in late February 2016. She is happy to be resuming her normal activities, which now include driving. "I had been in pain for seven months, and in just five days after my chemo treatment, I had no pain," she recalls.

Pain-free and cancer-free, Miranda's been able to accomplish a goal that's shared by every 16-year-old. "I can happily say that through all this, I still got my license," Miranda says, grinning. Miranda and her family decided to use the attention they've been receiving to raise awareness and money to support cancer research. Miranda is committed to being a voice for all children fighting cancer and has been very active in advocacy efforts.