06 June 2013

(I am in Nashville on business right now so I've asked some friends to write guest blogs for me and choose the cause to which I donate. Today's guest blogger is my friend Sheryl Northrop, who runs Los Angeles-based North Star Entertainment. She has been one of Causes and Effect's most loyal supporters and this story touched me greatly.  Thanks for reading, Melinda)

Many people were so moved by the recent story of Zach Sobiech, the young man who wrote the gorgeous song “Clouds,” and lived long enough to see the song's video go viral and attract worldwide attention. He died last month from osteosarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of bone cancer that primarily strikes preteens and teens. 

There are fewer than 350 cases diagnosed each year in this country and, unlike many adult cancers, there are not a lot of treatment options available.

The treatments that are available are brutal, requiring surgery, often including the loss of limbs, chemo and/or radiation, a daily cocktail of various drugs to combat the side effects from all of the above that may help in fighting the cancer, but in turn wreak their own havoc on the body and mind. As a parent, I can hardly imagine what it must be like to watch your child go through this. 

I first heard Miranda’s story through my friend Elizabeth, who had given the teenager a voice-over role in an animated feature she produced last year. Elizabeth found herself completely taken with this young woman’s incredible spirit, wicked sense of humor, strength and courage.

In September 2008, Miranda was a beautiful 12-year-old with a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do and a high academic achiever, when she and her mom, dad and two younger siblings learned she had osteosarcoma. In the last five years, this amazingly courageous young woman, with an infectious smile and big brown eyes, has undergone numerous surgeries, including the loss of a leg (replaced by a metal prosthesis) and part of her lung after the first recurrence. She had two wonderful years without disease but suffered another recurrence in 2011, resulting in another lung surgery. And the cancer is back again, this time in her spine, chest and kidney. Her local hospital could offer nothing but end-of-life care. Imagine being 16 and hearing something like that! Imagine being her parents!

Well, Miranda, whose motto is “Cancer Does Not Rule Miranda,” would have none of it. She told her doctors if this is all they can do, she would go somewhere else.

Shortly after Miranda finished her voice-over role, Elizabeth met up with her in Philadelphia where she had arranged studio time for her to record a song. 

The track she chose, “The Secret Life Of Bees,” written by Billie Myers, had originally been intended as the title track to the feature film of the same name, but wound up not being used in the movie. They made a video of the session and when Elizabeth heard about this latest devastating recurrence, she decided it was time to make a music video to document a special song, for a very special young lady. 

Miranda is currently at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Clinic in Houston where the doctors have not only offered her a treatment plan, but also HOPE. But this type of hope comes with a price tag. Cancer is devastating, not only physically and emotionally, but financially. The family lives on the east coast and must travel back and forth to Houston, plus some of the treatment options that are not covered by insurance must be paid for out of pocket. 

The video for Miranda’s beautiful cover of “The Secret Life of Bees,” is the centerpiece for an indiegogo campaign that aims to raise $50,000 to help Miranda and her family. Knowing I’m a publicist, Elizabeth asked me if I could help spread the word. I was completely taken with the video, which I watched three times in a row just to see Miranda’s great smile and hear her pretty voice, so of course I jumped in to do whatever I can.

Before I sign off, I want to share some words from Miranda’s mom Diane that she posted to Miranda’s Caring Bridge page right before her 16th birthday:
“Now as we come upon Miranda's sweet 16, I recognize her for being a beautiful young woman.   She still sings every moment she can, however, her voice has only grown more beautiful over the years.   

In essence, in 16 years, Miranda has grown into a person that I admire.  She has developed character, grace and strength.  Of course, she has caused me more worry than one parent should ever have but I would not change a thing.  I have learned a lot from Miranda…Every day when I think about what she has gone through and what she has accomplished, I think to myself that she is an amazing young woman.”

The campaign runs through June 17. 

-Sheryl Northrop

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