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Miranda's Journey

      "Miranda's Smile" was begun in memory of a beautiful girl who's smile was contagious ... it was so bright it warmed your heart.

 In memory of her strength and courage in the face of childhood cancer

Miranda's 8th Grade School Picture, Fall 2007

New Years Eve, December 31, 2007

Miranda and her brother Scott, Summer 2008

Miranda with her "cousins" at the Jonas Brother Concert in Hershey, PA

Left to Right ... Travis, Stacia, Gabby, Miranda, and Amelia :)

Miranda and her brother Scott at Six Flags over St. Louis on July 29, 2008

ugh ... heat index was 112 that day ... 9 days before diagnosis ...

Tammi, Scott, Miranda and Jeff Zeigler .... August 2, 2008 ... Great Grandma Nanny's 89th Birthday in Missouri ... 5 days before diagnosis.

Fall 2008, 9th Grade/Freshman Year, on her new laptop working on homebound Instruction. Diagnosis Aug 7, 2008. Treatment started Aug 7, 2008 ... a few weeks later 9th grade started ... our little girl was a high schooler now ...

Miranda and her cousin Jennifer, Fall 2008 PSHCH

Miranda and her friend Andrea from NYC, Fall 2008

PSHCH, Fall 2008

Miranda and her brother Scott, Dec 23, 2008

Christmas Day, 2008, our Angel's last day at her earthly home .... 36 more days at PSHCH and then on to her heavenly home .... we miss you :(

Our family: My husband Jeff, myself, our son Scott and Miranda had a million plans for the summer of 2008. That summer Miranda was 14. She was a strong, healthy young woman. She had a part time job, big plans for summer fun, taking tennis lessons and she was about to embark on the great adventure of high school. Throughout the summer she began struggling with fatigue. She was tested twice for mono and both were negative. It was attributed to such a busy teenage summer life and it would probably pass. She had her sports physical before we were to leave on vacation and the doctor felt her glands and said he wanted us to come back and see him after vacation to get more testing because of the mono symptoms.On Saturday, July 26, 2008 she fulfilled a dream – She saw the Jonas Brothers in concert! The very next morning Sunday July 27th we started the long drive to our vacation. She soon developed a nagging scratchy cough that wouldn’t go away, which she attributed to all the screaming at the concert. She had almost no voice. I wasn’t at the concert, but I can only imagine how she screamed. She really loved The Jonas Brothers. Sunday night we stopped for the first stop on our vacation at our friend’s house in Illinois. Monday morning July 28th she woke up to her glands in her neck swollen. We made a trip to an urgent care and they tested again for strep and mono and gave her an antibiotic, inhaler and cough syrup. We then went on the next leg of our trip, Six Flags over St. Louis. She was uncomfortable all day but wanted to be there. She and her brother and her dad LOOOVVVEEE roller coasters. Mom holds everyone’s stuff. Then we drove to my aunt’s house and Friday morning August 1st she woke up to not only her glands in her neck being swollen but also her chest. It was very scary.We took her to the emergency room there and a doctor at an emergency room, 1200 miles from home, found a mass in her chest and two masses on her thyroid and diagnosed her with possible lymphoma. Her doctor back home told us to keep her comfortable and stay for the reunion on Saturday August 2nd and then be on our way home to be at her doctor’s office at 730 Monday morning August 4th. At that appointment we learned that she didn’t have lymphoma … she had leukemia. It was the worst day of our lives up until that point. They made her an appointment at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital for Thursday August 7th. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were an almost unbearable wait. There was so much unknown and fear. It was so terrible. She just did her thing. Stayed in the air conditioning. Watched movies, read books, drawing, talking to friends. She seemed calm.She was a lot like her dad and if she was stressed she didn’t show it. She seemed to just think she would go to Hershey. Get chemo. Her hair would fall out. She would be healed. And life would go on. August 7 she was diagnosed with High Risk T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. the prognosis was good. As she rolled around the exam room on the wheeled stool, Dr. Freiberg and Dr. Barbour tried to prepare us for what treatment was going to be like. They talked about her hair falling out and she didn’t seem upset about that. She wasn’t happy about what all the steroids were going to do to her figure. What she got most upset about was when the nurse said that when her hair grew back it would most likely be very pretty and curly. She said she spends so much time straightening her hair that she didn’t want it curlier. Ugh she said. When the doctors were talking to her Dr. Freiberg asked her if she understood what they were explaining. She said, “It is what it is so let’s just do what we gotta do”. She seemed to just trust that they were going to treat her, and it would be bad for a while and then she would be better and go on with life. We were assured that this was one of the childhood cancers that they had a pretty good hold on and even with her high-risk factors - way better than a lot of children. While her friends were preparing to start that great adventure of 9th grade, she started cancer treatment and began to fight for her life against cancer. Almost from the first day of treatment her condition began an extreme downward spiral. Her PICC line, a temporary IV that stayed in her arm for ease of treatment, she developed an infection by the end of the first week so for the next 3 weeks she took all her chemo's and all the numbers blood tests and everything with IV's poked into her arm every time. But she just stuck out her arm and took it. She even had a chemotherapy burn out a vein and through the skin of her arm. She was so happy when the day came for her to get her mediport surgery. A mediport is placed under the skin on the chest and a tube goes from it down into the main artery so that IV chemo and medicine can be more easily given.Exactly two weeks into treatment hair started falling out but she took it like a trooper. A few days later, while in the hospital, she asked the nurse, “Can’t we just shave it off". She cried, we cried, Patty the nurse cried. The steroids bloated her face and belly; you can imagine how a teen girl felt about that. But once again she took it like champ. Then, strangely, her platelet count was too low for a treatment, so she began to get behind in the protocol. She had one chemo that first month that had some one-in-a-million chance dangers. She was the one-in-a-million. She had a stroke. then she suffered a toxicity to another chemo which caused her to lose the use of her foot. Then her leg and then she was unable to walk. Though she worked hard to get walking on her own again, she never did.She had pneumonia in one or both of her lungs pretty much the whole time from being immune suppressed from the chemo. She suffered digestive and esophageal damage and was on a feeding tube through her nose and down into her stomach, this is common for pediatric cancer patients at least once during treatment. She would live the rest of her life with it in. She also developed Steroid induced Diabetes and her blood sugars went dangerously high and uncontrollable. There were so many spinal taps and bone marrow tests and other specialists and terrible treatments for all the side effects of the chemos and all the medicines.She continued to get sicker and sicker and was unable to keep platelets. They are cells in your blood that cause clotting and without them you can bleed too much. She was getting blood and platelet transfusions day after day after day. Platelet counts not being high enough and getting sicker and sicker caused her to get more and more behind in her treatment protocol.She had been in the hospital almost all of August, September, October and November and we were moving into December and she didn’t want to be in the hospital for Christmas. With a lot of planning and home health nurses she was able to come home for nine days before Christmas, it was a hard 9 days but she was happy to be home and we were happy she could be home for Christmas.The day after Christmas she wound up back in the hospital. Over the next week she gained 47 pounds of fluid and getting it off her was damaging her kidneys. On January 2, 2009 we were told she had developed a rare blood disease. They said she would need a bone marrow transplant. But she was very sick. Very behind on treatment. We were told that it had a 1% survival rate and that was if she could get well enough for a bone marrow transplant. But she said even if it was a 1% chance that could be her. She was ready to fight.She was getting blood and platelet transfusions every day and some days more. This caused her to be one huge bruise and she couldn’t have any procedures done or she could have bleed to death. The sHLH cells ate all the good cells in the marrow but not the cancer so they were able to rage out of control and spread through her blood and body and other organs but faster and much more aggressively than before.Her doctors assembled a consulting team from the top 5 pediatric cancer hospitals in the country and even two researchers from outside the US. We were told that they were the best in the field with this and they came up with two long shots to try and that we would know very quickly if they work or not. Through the two long shot treatments she became so severely immune suppressed that developed an infection in her blood that was antibiotic resistant, her pneumonia had taken over both her lungs again, and the infection was causing her kidneys and her heart to fail. And they caused neurological damage that we had no idea how extensive or permanent it would have been. She also would have dangerously low oxygen levels causing doctors and nurses racing to her bedside so many times.The cancer was raging, and infection was raging. Her body was far too weak to fight anything at this point. On January 26th our beautiful strong smart smiling sweet little girl took a ride in her bed from 7West to the PICU. Due to her lungs and breathing they told us they were going to put her on a machine to rest her lungs and hopefully get her over this “hump” then that machine didn’t help enough so she wound up on a ventilator. It was supposed to be resting her lungs. Just to get over the “hump.” As her kidneys were failing they put her on dialysis but her as her blood pressure went dangerously low and the dialysis was not working.The Cancer ravaged her body and organs, her kidneys were failing, her heart was failing, she was bleeding internally and bleeding on her brain nothing could be stopped it was all out of control. After only 5 months and 3 weeks, a mere 176 days, at the age of 14, Miranda passed away on January 30, 2009. Throughout her journey, with every obstacle, with every struggle she was brave and strong, an inspiration, a hero.

The Miranda K. Zeigler Memorial Foundation

54 Glenview Drive, Dillsburg, PA 17019


[email protected]