Bryght's 2023 Model

I made a promise to myself very early on that Pheo would NEVER take away my ‘fabulous’. 

image of woman with text that says Cancer cant take away my fabulous


My name is Miranda and I live with a rare form of metastatic cancer most people haven’t heard of. Fee-o-chrome-o-sigh-toe-ma - Heck, most people can’t even say the name. 


Pheochromocytoma - A word that would change my entire existence. 


I started to share my experience through a blog I created after I was diagnosed (the second time). I had so much anger inside, I needed to get it out. I was dismissed for four years leading up to that diagnosis. Before there was even a term for ‘medical gaslighting’, I felt like the definition of it.  


I had no idea what would come of my words, my little blog, all I knew is that I never wanted someone else to feel how my husband and I felt the day I was given a terminal diagnosis. I was 23. 



“The idea is that the more I share, the more information there will be available for a rare disease where this is so much lacking. Every procedure, every test, every treatment I suffer through – I will continue to share my experiences so that others don’t have to keep grasping for answers like I did” 


First Diagnosis…


I was in my teens and having all sorts of ‘symptoms’, for me that was my normal. I thought it was normal to have trouble sleeping. I thought it was normal to have shaky hands. I thought it was okay to have heart flutters. I didn’t know anything different than to sweat a lot, to always have red cheeks. 


Until it became much worse, more frequent, and way more severe. The trouble sleeping turned into not sleeping at all. The shaky hands turned into convulsing. The heart flutters turned into aggressive palpitations and chest pain. Sweating turned into being drenched, and the redness turned into full out flushing. 


I would be fine one moment, but I knew it would quickly change. I began spending a lot of time on my bathroom floor… this didn’t seem normal anymore. 


Every single day I’d be hit with these attacks. Vomiting, heart pounding pain, convulsing, losing my vision, hugging the toilet and begging god for it to stop. The pain in my head so intense I was sure it would hurt less to ram it through the wall. My chest so tight, my heart felt like it was beating through cement. WHY?


 More importantly, why won’t anyone believe me? 


It took having a heart attack at 19 years old to be taken seriously. Fast forward months of being locked in the Ottawa heart institute, I received my first diagnosis of Pheochromocytoma. A tumor that secretes adrenaline! The cause of all my symptoms, my body is overdosing itself on adrenaline?! A soft ball sized tumor on my adrenal gland, wreaking havoc on my body. It caused 2 strokes I was unaware of, no wonder why I was so off balance suddenly. 


I was told I’d need surgery to remove it, and then I’d go back to normal. I’m young and healthy, I’ll bounce back quickly and be as good as new they said. 


Plot twist: I had one thing on my mind, waking up to him. The man who huddled next to me in my twin size hospital bed, courting me while being trapped in sick land. Somehow making a mysterious diagnosis feel like a romantic comedy. 


I died on the table that day for 3 mins, and I woke up feeling worse than before. In a anesthesia haze I blurted out that I loved him and to take me to Mexico. 


*later we got married, and went to Cancun for our honeymoon* 


Our romcom quickly turned into a psychological thriller, my suffering now blamed on the surgery, the trauma of having to have an emergency open procedure, the shock to my heart, it’ll just take time they assured. 


I’m still in so much pain, and wait… oh no, I still have the same attacks! I continue to hear “it’ll take time for your body to re-adjust, and for all the adrenaline to get out of your system” 


Days turn to weeks, weeks turn to months, months turn to years, “it’ll take time” turned into “you just have a bit of anxiety, your labs are fine” for FOUR years we heard this over and over and over again. 


The Recurrence…


It was just anxiety, until it wasn’t. My labs were fine, until they weren’t. I knew it. I said it. We begged, We pleaded. How did we get here? 


I’d find out I had multiple metastatic tumors all over my kidneys, adrenal bed, bowel, reproductive organs, retroperitoneum, diaphragm, and worst of all - my liver. There wasn’t an abdominal organ that wasn’t ravaged by disease. The longer they refused to believe me, the more cancer invaded by body. 


Remember the aforementioned anger? This. This is why I had to channel the years of frustration into helping others to avoid what had happened to me. I needed what happened to me to have purpose. This would not be my ending. 


“it’s metastatic, and aggressive” 


“when it spreads to the liver, it’s the poorest prognosis” 


“based on the literature, you’ll have between 1 and 5 years” 


“there’s nothing we can do now” 


A lot has happened since then, I am approaching 9 years since my terminal diagnosis. She’s giving…. F cancer 



She’s Terminal and Thriving. She’s staying fabulous. She’s fighting pretty. She’s the 2023 Bryght Model. She’s creating awareness by sharing her story. 


She’s re-writing the ending, creating a new beginning. 


If we’d accepted what we’d heard that day, or let the anger consume us, I would not be here today. I can’t describe the horrors of what my husband and I have lived through since then. When you’re given labels like palliative, metastatic, incurable, terminal, you’re treated differently. 


Many times… it felt like my life mattered less. 


This is why I now use these words with conviction, I am 9 years terminal and yet I am THRIVING. I am not letting it take away who I am. That does not mean I am not sick, disabled, and often suffering. Those things are still here, of course. I am not cured, but I am alive, I am stable, and I choose how I show up. 


I have shared every aspect of my journey through my blog, the diagnosis, to the comeback, the surgeries, the complications, secondary conditions, experimental treatments, clinical trials, palliative care, near death experiences, it’s been a long ass road. <- bryght approved language 


There came a period where I couldn’t speak at all, literally. I lost my ability to share and with that - I lost my sense of purpose. I began to lose myself despite what I had promised over and over. When I miraculously got my voice back, I vowed to share EVERY single piece of my life. I took to social media to begin a crusade of awareness. I needed more than ever for the world to know what happened to me. If it was happening to me, it sure as hell was happening to someone else and their loved ones. Social media has allowed me to take awareness to a whole new level, literally saving lives. 


Connecting people worldwide with answers that they couldn’t find. How can anyone know to look for this disease? It’s too rare they say, they don’t test for it because it’s too unlikely. Even when I had it, they STILL blamed my recurrence on anxiety. My words, my experiences, my raw and vulnerable truth has become a survival guide for the undiagnosed. 


My husband was the only one who truly believed it wasn’t my time, even when my hope started to fade. It was a bit of a shock - outliving the prognosis once, twice, three times.


He reminded me who I am, doing anything to pull me out of a hole that palliative care buried me in. 


We began reclaiming my fabulous 


I need you to imagine your life almost coming to an end multiple times due to mistreatments and mistakes. Your life consisting of having 8-10 adrenaline attacks everyday. You go from laughing and feeling like yourself to being assaulted by your own body. You can’t walk more than a few steps to the bathroom. You have to sleep in a hospital bed in your living room, unable to go upstairs, no access to your bedroom, clothes, makeup, shower, or comforts. My husband running up and down the stairs to select my outfits, giving me bed baths, learning to curl my hair. 


He never slept when I was to make sure I was still breathing. 


This was our life, for so many years, absolute chaos, survival mode, so much trauma…


>> Fast forward…to flying to New York City meeting Luba, fellow cancer thriver and badass, having MY story be chosen as the face of a product named STRENGTH and COURAGE. A product that helped me during my reclaim my fabulous. Being able to fly was a victory in itself, but I got to be a model for a day?! Giving cancer the middle finger in a room full of survivors. Talk about a miranda style comeback. 


Last year I was pronounced stable, for the first time in my entire 8.5 years with this disease! My team of specialists, my husband and I, WE did that. A miracle. Through our strength, courage, and belief in me. I can’t know how long this part will last. So like everything else in my life - we’re making the most of it. 


So how did we get from there to here? I shared a TikTok video that went viral about my ‘year to live’. Of course a 25 second clip can’t sum up everything, but it was our real life story. We sold our home and everything we owned so that we could be closer to my specialists. Here’s why: 


I was in a clinical trial at the time, the doctor called and said “it’s time to keep her comfortable”. Shortly after, my health was declining faster than ever, I was in more pain than I had ever been, I couldn’t breathe, the attacks were becoming more frequent. I was suffering. Palliative care wasn’t keeping me comfortable. Serge ambulated me 3 hours away by himself, to my super hospital. He wheeled me into the cancer centre, where my team of specialists quickly rushed me into their care. I could no longer speak or walk, screaming when someone touched me because of how much pain I was in. This isn’t normal. 


Serge was seeing what no one else was, he was listening to my pain, because dying isn’t supposed to hurt. Pain is a warning, it’s a signal, if you listen to it - the answers will come. 


If he hadn’t brought me in for specialized intervention, I’d not be writing this today. It took 2 months to pinpoint that the extreme palliative doses of opioids were killing me faster. Causing my tumors secrete more adrenaline, a major contraindication of this disease. Another long road of recovery and healing from something that should have been avoided


Even with this discovery - we still weren’t sure what was happening to me. Just before all of this I was told I had less than a year to live.


I wanted to feel like I was retiring fabulously, not dying. The first thing we did when we got out of the hospital was leave. We left our home, the bad memories, the suffering, and we set out to heal. The universe always delivers, and it led us to a castle estate in the woods with an indoor pool. Serge explained our situation to the owner and he offered to rent his home for about 100$ per night. We took refuge at this castle until we could figure out our next steps. If I had to do this horrific rapid detox, I was going to do it the miranda way.


We wanted to simulate the same healing in a more permanent place. We used every penny from selling our house and our retirement fund to live in a fabulous waterfront condo. The main factor being we wanted to be close to the hospital that saved my life. We just wanted to breathe. We knew I’d need to rehabilitate and it would take time. Did I even have the luxury of time? We weren’t sure. 


We didn’t know when my time would come. We never discussed it, but we had a silent agreement to do things on our own terms. Day by day, I began getting stronger in the water. Regaining my strength, my symptoms were improving, suddenly… I was getting better not worse!  


You can imagine our disbelief and confusion when an entire year finished and I was still alive. Alive and grateful, broke and in debt but happier than ever. 


The 25 second tiktok ends with me going “shit” I didn’t die, after we spent all of our savings and maxed out my credit cards in a YOLO state of mind. We lived the most incredible year of our lives, flew to Cancun in my frail state, Serge proposed to me again, swam with dolphins while in a wheelchair, went for high tea and pedicures on random Tuesday mornings. Creating our own glimmers of joy to distract from all the triggers. 


I can’t say what helped more, finally being treated like a human being and not just a terminal diagnosis, or having the time of our lives. Whatever it was, it got me here. 


We had to get back to a more normal way of living, while I was still uncertain about my fate… I just wanted to feel like me again. My social media was becoming a space for others like me, my story was being shared far and wide. I wanted others to be reminded they are so much more than a diagnosis.


Knowing my worth saved my life.


I love the community I’ve built and all the people I see who are finding the strength to push for themselves. Finding their own fabulous. 


Through all of this beautiful chaos, I began focusing on selfcare more than ever. Part of not letting this disease take my fabulous is learning how to navigate a changing body over and over again. 



One day I was searching for shaving alternatives and skincare with no fragrance. I was in the middle of replacing all of my products due to a new secondary diagnosis of mast cell activation syndrome. It was causing me to be allergic to everything and nothing, even my razor blade!


It was the mystery link between why my health had declined so quickly. Why I reacted to medications and chemicals the way I did. Why all of my treatments were so much harder for me vs others. Why I couldn’t breathe. Why my skin was so angry and red, peeling off my face. 


That’s when I found Bryght. 


I saw their home wax kit was made with beeswax and all sorts of natural ingredients. I wanted to learn more and make sure it was safe for me, so I reached out. 


Sharing a bit of my situation and why I was looking for safe alternatives, Becca let me in on a secret: the founder of Bryght was ALSO fighting cancer! She not only understood, but she was working on something just for cancer thrivers.


That’s when I ‘met’ Luba virtually, what are the odds? Me searching for a product SO specific, thinking I’d never find it. Luba going through a cancer journey of her own, creating a product for a need many don’t know exists. Who better to test the skincare made for cancer thrivers than me?! A cancer unicorn who has the most sensitive and randomly allergic skin! 


I tried the wax first, making it part of my self care ritual. What people didn’t realize at this time was that my wounds were still fresh. The fact that I could do any of these small rituals for myself was unreal. Relying on my husband for years, waxing my own legs was a miracle. He did insist on giving me a bikini wax to try it out, it is doctor cupcakes approved! 


I didn’t need instagram to teach me how to romanticize my life, I had been doing that for years. Each act giving me my power back. When you can’t care for yourself for so long, these slow moments mean everything. 


The Bryght products were agreeing with my angry skin, at this time I was trying samples of the unreleased STRENGTH and COURAGE. ‘Strength’ repair balm becoming my holy grail for skin flares, I was so excited. I’d send Luba before and after photos magically erasing these inflammatory wounds within 24hrs. 


Luba and Becca asked me if I’d share my story on their podcast, of course I agreed. I was honored tell mine and be a part of Luba telling hers. I was grateful to spread awareness in different communities. I was excited to make an impact. 


We later did another episode including our husbands chatting about caregiving. I knew this would lead to something special, I felt it, I just didn’t know what. 


>> Fast forward to today, it’s been a little over a month since we were in New York City to shoot with THE Jen Rozenbaum for the Strength and Courage cancer compassion line - I am still in a state of disbelief. I can’t believe what we’ve been through leading up to this. It’s so surreal to see everything play out, did I mention my life feels like a movie?! 


I don’t know what type of movie would describe my life, inspirational has often made me cringe with regard to cancer. However I can confidently say that cancer is not the star of this show. I am the main character of my life, I AM an inspiration and I am now willing to see that. Cancer didn’t make me who I am, I’ve been this way and have always said I won’t let it CHANGE that. I’ve stayed true to that. 


Being chosen to be the thriver to represent Strength and Courage allowed me to rebuild trust with my body. I wanted these photos to tell a story of where I was and where I am now. Celebrating every bit of pain and sacrifice we had endured.  


I was terrified by body wouldn’t cooperate, and it didn’t lol. I am tired before it even begins, my back is aching, but I won’t let that stop me. I apply an icy hot patch and some lipgloss, I change into my Ana Ono garments selected just for me. Fabulous activated. Learning to be flow with it, not fighting against it.


Even though this day was about cancer in many ways, it was the first time that I didn’t think about cancer at all. Not once. It was the first time since in my teens that I truly felt like…. Miranda. It was like every piece of advice I’d ever shared was hitting me all at once. 


I thought all along I was reclaiming who I was, but instead a whole new version of myself evolved. Pieces of the Miranda I was before cancer, paired with the lived experience of after. A new confidence was born. When the studio lights begin shining, the fan blowing my hair, my all time favorite Xtina song blaring, my husband looking at me with awe, it was in that moment that I realized… 


This story was never about cancer, it was never about the pheo, it’s a part of life but it’s not ME. This story is about the strength and courage to live our lives on our own terms. It’s about choosing ‘fabulous’ when we have every reason not to. It’s about love and how we evolve through the worst of pain. It’s about the deep rooted belief that we ALL deserve to thrive. I will always remember how I felt on that day. The day I unapologetically stepped into my strength and courage. 


I want to be remembered for how my story made you feel, hopefully inspiring you to share your own. Through the good, the bad, and the FAB. 



Pheo VS Fabulous 


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