Kevin Cody

‘Mermaid’s Miracle’ offers inspiration for kids with cancer

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“The Mermaid’s Miracle” was written and illustrated by cancer survivor Mermanda Mayesh.

by Michael McKnight

Meranda Mayesh can remember making her first drawings at age five, alongside her grandfather, Disney artist Bub Thomas. The tumor that would be discovered on her brain two years later did not affect her memory, so the 36-year-old Mayesh can still recall Grandpa Bub’s hand on hers, pushing her pencil across the page, outlining Mickey’s face and trademark ears.

At six, Mayesh graduated to drawing flowers, and then to creating her own style of mermaid—colorful, childlike, always smiling, with long, flowing hair. Thirty years later, those mermaids are featured in a book Mayesh has written called “The Mermaid’s Miracle: A ‘Tail’ for Children Fighting Cancer, which the Torrance native hopes to share with as many hospitalized kids as she can.

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Mayesh will sign copies of “The Mermaid’s Miracle” on Sunday, July 15, at 11 a.m. at Peter’s Garden: 814 N. Pacific Coast Hwy., Redondo Beach.

Meranda Mayesh will read from her newly published book “Mermaid Miracles” on Sunday July 15 at Peter’s Garden, 814 N. Pacific Coast Hwy., Redondo Beach

Stricken with severe headaches at age seven, Mayesh and her family were soon given the worst kind of news by her doctors. The surgery that removed the malignant tumor from her brain was followed by “years of chemotherapy,” Mayesh recalls. The surgery paralyzed her right side. “I had to learn to draw again with my left hand. It took me about a year to be able to draw flowers again. Soon I was drawing animals, fairies, and of course—my mermaids.”

In high school she began printing her art on greeting cards. “Everyone started asking me for cards, so my family helped me package and sell them.”

In 2004, Mayesh began attending Canyon Verde, a day program in Redondo Beach that provides opportunities for adults with special needs. Canyon Verde’s staff (particularly program director Pam Ryan) helped Mayesh start her own small business, selling her framed art and greeting cards. “Today her work appears on pillows, bags and coffee cups,” Ryan said.

About a year ago, Mayesh began writing the story about her childhood cancer diagnosis and all of the amazing things that have happened since. “My love for mermaids was the perfect theme for my book,” she said. Colorful and optimistic, with just the right dose of harsh reality, The Mermaid’s Miracle took several months to draw and was published earlier this year. But her work is only beginning. “My dream is to deliver my books to as many hospitals as I can, and to read it to children who might benefit from it. I know how they feel.”

The book’s final page, which depicts a free-swimming mermaid surrounded by vibrant sea life, offers the following encouragement: “My name is Meranda, and when I was a little mermaid I had a brain tumor. But guess what? Today I can swim really fast.” ER


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