MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota running community has come together for a Wayzata High School Cross Country star diagnosed with cancer.

“Running is a big part of my life,” Miranda Mead said. “That’s how I met my best friend, we ran at the same pace.”

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Miranda was fast. Her 5K time was 21:10, that’s less than 7 minutes a mile.

“I trained so hard this summer,” Miranda said.

As Miranda was heading into sophomore year at Wayzata High School, however, the joy of running became something much different.

“My entire back hurt, I [was] feeling extreme lower back pain every day, every night,” Miranda said.

Like a lot of runners, Miranda pushed through the pain.

Miranda Mead Running

“After practices and after races I would still feel the pain, but I still ran,” Miranda said. “I’m really impressed because I was only 3 seconds away from lettering this year with a six-inch tumor.”

What Miranda thought was a running injury, turned out to be a tumor on her lower back

“I’m shocked after what I accomplished with a six-inch tumor,” Miranda said. “I’m amazed.”

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That tumor turned out to be Ewing’s Sarcoma — bone cancer. The Mead family found out the day before Thanksgiving, just two days after Miranda turned 16.

“I freaked out, I started hyperventilating,” Miranda said.

Whatever panic Miranda felt quickly turned to determination.

“I’m just going to remain optimistic throughout this entire process,” Miranda said.

Miranda Mead

The same friends who ran by her side for years now cover the walls of Miranda’s hospital room at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

“That’s the great thing about our sport,” Carrie Tollefson, former Olympic runner, said. “We have so many great people surrounding us.”

Girls on the Run Twin Cities connected Miranda and Carrie shortly after her diagnosis.

“If you ever need a pick me up for the day, just give a call and I’ll be there,” Carrie said.

Carrie and Girls on the Run brought care packages and a reminder that the skills we learn in running, can translate to every part of our lives.

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“At mile two in a race you’re thinking, this is hard, but I have to stay at it,” said Miranda. “You know, keep going, keep going, keep fighting. I want people to know that I’m strong and that I know I can fight this.”