“I know this is going to be a long haul, but then again, races sometimes feel like they’re really long and you just keep pushing through because that’s what a runner does,” Miranda Mead said in an article written about her in Runners World back in January of 2016.
As a runner and a mom, I know first hand how the mental strategies I have learned through running have enabled me to power through other parts of life that require extreme mental toughness (like labor, for example). But cancer? At 16? I was blown away when I heard this now senior in high school's perspective on the cancer that literally stopped her in her tracks only a couple years ago.
I connected with this amazing spirit (and her incredible mom) from the moment I stood in front of them to capture a little bit of their story as advocates spreading awareness about childhood cancer alongside Children's Minnesota during the month of September (and every month, really).
Miranda is so strong. She emanates positive energy and empathy—and was incredibly fun (and easy) to photograph. She is an advocate for children with cancer and from the brief time I spent with her and her mom, I can see how she is going to greatly impact others with her optimistic approach to life and her drive to keep pushing through, even while faced with an experience most of us cannot even comprehend. It was inspiring to hear her joy for life and her light conversations around homecoming, weight lifting and her 18th birthday coming up in November—things a high school senior should be chatting about. She treats cancer as a part of her story, but fought hard and did not allow it to be her story. She welcomed it into her life with grace and poise, and knows it gave her strength and hope and an opportunity for purpose. As a survivor recently celebrating one year cancer-free, having been told at the start of her journey that her odds of beating it were only 30%, she and her mom know first hand that living and life are gifts and you can feel that when you are with them.
Miranda and her mom, Julie, were so warm and playful together—like best friends on a shopping date. It was perfectly fitting that we all gathered in the chic home office of Paisley + Sparrow founder,Jen's, home, surrounded by handcrafted handbags, scarves and accessories all created with purpose for a purpose—kind of like Miranda. The items that surrounded us in that cozy and bright office space are currently creating jobs for margenalized women all around the world. The handwoven, denim colored scarf casually draped around Miranda's neck will create sustainable business opportunities for women both locally and globally. The the long tassel necklace Miranda's mom tried on is empowering woman in Nairobi, Kenya through education, innovation and design.
It was a sunny morning of optimism and intention and a moment to pause and revisit one's approach to adversity. Even in this quote by Ariana Dancu from Miranda's Instagram page, she shares her ability to transform a sharp rock in her shoe into a beautiful garden path that is sure to lead her to an amazing future in spite of the emotional setback she and her family had to endure.
"She made broken look beautiful, strong look invincible. She walked with the universe on her shoulders & made it look like a pair of wings"
Join me and other local businesses like Paisley + Sparrow during the month of September and Shine Bright for Kids in support of the Kids Cancer Fund at Children's Minnesota. I will be donating $10.00 for each session booked during the month of September.