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Mercer Island mom in inspirational music video

Mercer Island resident Gabriela Selden stands with her niece, Lauren Selden, at Children
Mercer Island resident Gabriela Selden stands with her niece, Lauren Selden, at Children's Hospital during the filming of the music video 'Stronger' May 5.
— image credit: Contributed photo

Mercer Island resident Gabriela Selden went to Seattle Children's Hospital on May 5 to visit her niece. It was an utter coincidence that a camera crew showed up right then.

"After I had been there with Lauren for about an hour, the crew and the director came by and asked, 'Oh, do you want to be in this cool video?'" Selden said, "and we went to see how they were filming."

Lauren Selden, 11, was unsure at first, but they told her she didn't have to sing along with the music, Kelly Clarkson's hit "Stronger." She just had to hold a card and smile, while her aunt helped her stand. Not surprisingly to Gabriela and her husband, Peter Selden, Lauren picked the card that said "Fighter."

Lauren has bone cancer that has affected her ability to walk. Her family lives in Hawaii, but the treatment options there were much more limited than at Children's.

"Fortunately the tumor hadn't metastasized, so she had a much better chance of surviving," Peter Selden said. "Now she is cancer-free."

Lauren's fighting spirit in the face of her illness is inspired by her days of competing in roller derby. While she most likely will not be able to compete in it anymore, she has retained the determination the sport gave her.

"After all these treatments, she wanted to keep fighting for her life," Gabriela Selden said. "She's a very sweet girl, very kind. She's not mad because of her illness. She keeps going with the flow."

Now the photo of Lauren and Gabriela Selden, taken during the filming, has appeared in several major news media outlets. The video went viral very quickly after it was posted May 6 on YouTube and was shown at Mercer Island High School during that week.

"Some girls at my church told me, 'I saw you in the video!'" Gabriela Selden said. She also noted that parents at her children's school have commented to her about it.

The video can evoke very strong emotions in those who watch it.

"At the beginning [of it] you're kind of curious, and by the time it gets to the chorus, you start to feel happy," Peter Selden said. "Towards the end, you start to reflect a lot on what it really is, and it makes you cry, when you see the kids dancing while hooked up to the machines."

Being part of the video and Lauren's experience with cancer as a whole has given the Seldens the opportunity to reflect and give back.

"You realize how short life is," Gabriela Selden said. "These kids who have cancer, we don't know if they're going to make it. They are happy. That is my idea of the video - to show that life is pretty wherever you see it."

They strongly encourage people to volunteer with hospitals or places like Ronald McDonald House, where Lauren has stayed during parts of her time of treatment. They also advocate for giving blood, which Gabriela does every six weeks.

"When you donate blood, you don't necessarily see the connection on the other side," Peter Selden said, "but when you have someone like Lauren, who was so sick, she's getting transfusions all the time. It requires so much blood to do that."

The video can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihGCj5mfCk8.

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