The Mattie Miracle Walk and Family Festival was a $55,000 success!!!

The Mattie Miracle Walk and Family Festival was a $55,000 success!!!
Thanks to all who attended, contributed, volunteered, and helped to make this day possible! More psychosocial miracles are bound to come!!!

Mattie Miracle selected to be the Flame of Hope award recipient!!!

Mattie Miracle selected to be the Flame of Hope award recipient!!!
The Georgetown University Hospital board nominated and selected Mattie Miracle to be the recipient of the Hospital's highest honor, the Flame of Hope award. The Foundation will be bestowed this honor on March 29, 2014 at the Georgetown Pediatrics Gala.

Mattie Miracle's Interview on Fox 5 -- 3rd Annual Candy Drive is a 2000 pound success!

Mattie Miracle's Interview on Fox 5 -- 3rd Annual Candy Drive is a 2000 pound success!
Thank you for making our candy drive a major success!!!!

4th Annual Walk & Family Festival -- A HUGE Success!!!

Mattie Miracle on Fox 5 News -- Candy to Remember Mattie--November 15, 2012

Mattie Miracle on Fox 5 News - May 11, 2012

Thank you for keeping Mattie's memory alive!

Dear Mattie Blog Readers,

It means a great deal to us that you take the time to write to us and to share your thoughts, feelings, and reflections on Mattie's battle and death. Your messages are very meaningful to us and help support us through very challenging times. To you we are forever grateful.
As my readers know, I promised to write the blog for a year after Mattie's death, which would mean that I could technically stop writing on September 9, 2010. However, at the moment, I feel like our journey with grief still needs to be processed and fortunately I have a willing support network still committed to reading. Therefore, the blog continues on. If I should find the need to stop writing, I assure you I will give you advanced notice. In the mean time, thank you for reading, thank you for having the courage to share this journey with us, and most importantly thank you for keeping Mattie's memory alive.

As Mattie would say, Ooga Booga (meaning, I LOVE YOU)! Vicki and Peter

The Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation celebrates its second anniversary!

The Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation was created in the honor of Mattie.

We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit and tax exempt charitable organization dedicated to finding better treatments and a cure to Osteosarcoma and Childhood Cancers. We help build the awareness of osteosarcoma and childhood cancers, and educate the public and medical professionals about the realities of childhood cancers. We advocate for the psychosocial needs of the children and their families who are fighting this terrible disease. Please visit the website at: and take some time to explore the site.

We have only gotten this far because of people like yourself, who have supported us through thick and thin. So thank you for your continued support and caring, and remember:

.... Let's Make the Miracle Happen and Stomp Out Childhood Cancer!

A Remembrance Video of Mattie

Random Shots of Mattie, Family and Friends

Number of Visitors Since October 12th, 2008

July 29, 2014

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - Mattie died 255 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken on July 29 of 2008. Six days after Mattie was diagnosed with cancer. That day we took Mattie to Roosevelt Island. As you can see he was playing by the water and in the sandy dirt. We even brought with us his battery powered boat! Typically we wouldn't float that boat in the Potomac River, but after Mattie was diagnosed with cancer, there were a lot of FIRSTS for us!

Quote of the day: Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.  ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

Many years ago, when I first met my friend Ann, she introduced me to her cousin, JP. JP is older than I am, he lives in Massachusetts, and to some people he may seem to stand out as being a bit different. Specifically as having a special need. Each summer he spends several weeks visiting Ann. Their tradition together and something JP looks forward to. Mattie went to a preschool that embraced differences and therefore a percentage of children with special needs were integrated into each of the preschool classrooms. Based on my experiences with these children, raising Mattie, and my own clinical experiences I have found that individuals with special needs tend to be very perceptive and extremely sensitive to the world around them. They also tend to know who they can and can't trust, who is making fun of them, respects them, and truly wants to spend time with them. You may think these are EASY skills, but I know many adults would misread these CUES all the time in the world around them constantly!!!

I had the wonderful opportunity to have lunch with JP today and we spent part of the afternoon together gardening. The refreshing part about JP is he appreciates time you spend with him and he has no problem telling you that this time with him makes him happy! WOW, when do we say such simple and yet meaningful statements to each other? We could all learn a few things!!!  

When I got home from my meaningful afternoon, I received another meaningful message! My friend Mary Ann had called me to tell me she had an unusual butterfly encounter! So now I have nicknamed her the "butterfly whisperer!" She was at her neighborhood pool today and when she got out of the pool she was greeted by a butterfly that looked like the one in the photo. I looked this fellow up and found out he is a Spicebush Swallowtail! This swallowtail landed on her leg and sat there for several minutes, while she chatted with him. She told the butterfly about Peter and I and how we missed Mattie and I swear if this butterfly could have talked back with its wings, it did! It continued to sit there and flutter away and the reason I know this was Mary Ann called me while some of this was occurring. I was getting live playback! Mary Ann was wearing orange today, a Mattie Miracle color, and some how it seemed very symbolic that a butterfly, a symbol I associate with Mattie would be attracted to something orange (a Mattie Miracle color) and this all should happen around the anniversary of Mattie's diagnosis! Then again Mary Ann and I always look for signs in nature! Either case, I am so happy my butterfly whisperer shared her message with me today! I accept all flutterbys from Mattie and how nice that it is also on a Tuesday (the day of the week that Mattie died)!

July 28, 2014

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday, July 28, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2008. Around the time that Mattie was diagnosed with cancer, Peter and I were in the Hospital clinic with him. Also with us in the clinic's library were his oncologist, social worker and art therapists. We strategized a way to explain Mattie's cancer to him. Right from the beginning Peter and I felt it was important to tell Mattie the truth about his condition in an age appropriate manner. His treatment was going to be aggressive and brutal, and therefore his buy in was going to be vital. Mattie LOVED bugs, and yet he most definitely did not want bugs floating around in his body. Therefore we designed a "bone bug" made out of clay to represent what was going on inside his body. We explained that his body was being attacked by bone bugs and that the only way to kill the bone bugs was to take medicine and to eventually remove them from his body, ie, chemotherapy and limb salvaging surgery. When Mattie was given the choice as to what to do with the clay bone bug, he grabbed a hold of it, and stomped on it with his foot, to kill it. Basically a symbolic representation of what chemo and surgery would eventually do in his body. It was a creative way to explain his cancer to him and throughout his battle, we always referred back to the bone bugs and when he discussed his cancer with others, he too used that language to explain his bone cancer. 

Quote of the day: 
The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last night my friends Tina and Ann held a birthday party for me. Ever since Mattie died, I have celebrated my birthday with friends in a party format. Perhaps though we don't talk about it, maybe others are listening when I say that my birthday falls two days after Mattie's diagnosis day!!! Maybe others can understand why it is hard for me to be joyous and celebratory, and therefore would need help negotiating through the funk that July ensues! The last birthday party I had though was in 2011. Mainly because parties have become harder and harder for me to attend. Over time, I feel as if I no longer fit into any group per se. I no longer identify with my former group of mom friends, I do not fit into my cancer group of mom friends, and for the most part I do not even identify with moms who lost children to cancer. Mainly because many of them are raising other children. So where does that leave me? Good question?!

I suppose after a two year hiatus from parties, Ann and Tina strategized and felt the need to have a party in a way. If you asked them why they held the party for me, the answer would be different for each of them, I guarantee you, but ultimately at the end of the day, what the party did was it served as a reminder to me that even though I may not always fit in, I am surrounded by a truly caring group of people who appreciate me. So no other gifts were necessary, that is the GIFT. But it is painful and bittersweet to know that I no longer interact with this group on a daily basis like I once did.

There were around 26 people in attendance last night. The party was held outside, which was right up my alley. I love the summer heat and I suppose everyone else was fortunate enough that it wasn't an incredibly humid night out. The party was in Tina's backyard, which is a lovely setting, and I am grateful to Tina since she has allowed me to use her house to host two other events, one was in 2013 and the other was in March of this year for the Foundation. The cake in front of me was a Carvel cake. Which means nothing to anyone in the DC area, but means a lot to anyone who is from the New York area. I grew up on Carvel ice cream cakes and being that my birthday is in July, it was a tradition to have a Carvel cake. They aren't so easy to find in DC other than in the grocery store. But Ann tracked down a Carvel store and surprised me with the cake. Meanwhile this one candle was hysterical. As I blew it out, Bob kept relighting it! I think the goal was to have me blow it out for the number of times that coincided with my years! Fortunately he stopped after 3.

Vicki with the party hosts, Ann and Tina. 

Peter snapped this photo while I was at the other end of the pool blowing out the candle on the cake. People were gathered all around the pool last night. It was a beautiful evening and Peter and I were very appreciative of the attendance and efforts of all of our friends. Peter summed it up best for me when we got home...... "you have quite a group of friends, and they truly love you!" 

July 27, 2014

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken July on 23, 2008. This was the day Mattie was diagnosed with cancer. A day Peter and I will never forget. Our world was changed forever. That night we came home and Mattie asked if he could display Christmas lights on our deck. Now if cancer hadn't come into our lives, the most likely response would have been "NO!" But cancer put everything into perspective. So out came the lights and no matter how crazy it may have looked, we put up our displays. It brought cheer and color to our world. A world which had just collapsed around us. Though Mattie was only six years old, he was bright enough to know that great change and trouble were ahead. 

Quote of the day: Sadness is but a wall between two gardens. ~ Khalil Gibran

When we visited Thomas Jefferson's Monticello this week, we bought a Butterfly flower plant in the gift stop. Thomas Jefferson cultivated so many different varieties of plants which is most likely why the gift shop features a whole garden area. In any case, it is no wonder that the butterfly plant caught my attention. These plants had all sorts of flying creatures around them! Particularly butterflies. I brought one home and planted it today next to the roses. We shall see when it blooms their lovely orange flowers if it attracts any monarch butterflies (which is what it is known to do!) in the city. 

We spent the entire day at home trying to relax and we also tended to our garden. Though this outdoor space is small in comparison to some gardens, we have a lot growing on it. All sorts of herbs and tomatoes. You wouldn't believe how many cherry tomatoes Peter can harvest every week. At least a whole colander full. To me it is a special treat and with Mattie's fountains going, it is a very tranquil place to sit right in the middle of the city! You may notice a tall green plant right next to the table and chairs (the right hand corner of the photo). This is the butterfly white ginger lily plant we brought back with us from the Elizabethan Gardens in the Outer Banks. It seems to be thriving and in fact it looks like it could produce flowers in August as promised. The Gardens told us that when this Lily flowers, the fragrance is intoxicating. The verdict is still out!

July 26, 2014

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken around July 25th of 2009. The cake came from Linda, Mattie's child life specialist. She wanted Mattie to be able to celebrate my birthday, so she got him a cake to give to me. Mattie enjoyed celebrating and I remember when Peter's birthday approached Mattie would always help me bake something. Mattie got into the spirit of the event and most importantly in acknowledging the other person in his life. He seemed to understand the importance of that at a young age. 

Quote of the day: I did not know how to reach him, how to catch up with him... The land of tears is so mysterious. ~ Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry

Peter and I are back in DC. It was such a quick trip, it feels like we just left in a way. This morning we walked around the Boars Head Inn property and I took some photos of what I have been looking at the past two days. So these amazing crape myrtles graced our balcony on the second floor. These are the beautiful pink sightings I had when I opened our balcony door. 

From the balcony, we could see this beautiful lake. It truly was a very tranquil and picturesque place to unwind. The birds were singing and I wish there was room in the Inn for us this weekend. I would have stayed to try to relax more. But literally every room was taken this weekend. Which is why we headed home today. 

The flowers around the Inn were stunning, as you can see this bank of Black Eyed Susan's!

I snapped this photo because to me this looked like a bridge out of a Monet painting!

After we said goodbye to the Inn, we went to walk in Historic Downtown Charlottesville. The downtown area is lined with shops and restaurants. We walked for about an hour and then also went through the campus of the University of Virginia. The University that Thomas Jefferson founded and originally designed himself. I could see how a part of the campus had a very Monticello-esque feeling to it!

On our drive home, on Route 29, we passed an ice cream store that caught my attention. It was packed with cars in the parking lot! But what was noteworthy was the name and its signage! The MOO THRU! Here is what I found out about the Moo Thru from its website, "the ice cream is made from only the freshest ingredients. The milk used in Moo Thru ice cream comes from our own prize winning grass fed Holstein herd grazed on a farm along the banks of the Rappahannock River about a mile from the Moo Thru." Being a cow affectionato, to me this ice cream store is worth stopping at the next time we head down to Charlottesville.  

The other noteworthy sighting on our car trip is corn for as far as the eye can see. It is a glorious sight! 

July 25, 2014

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday, July 25, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken on July 25 of 2009. This was the last birthday I celebrated with Mattie. That day, Mattie constructed this beautiful lighthouse birthday card for me, with the help of Peter's parents. Mattie and I saw many lighthouses together and the card captured those special adventures. It is hard to believe that with that beautiful smile and looking so happy, Mattie died a month and a half later. 

Quote of the day: And perhaps there is a limit to the grieving that the human heart can do. As when one adds salt to a tumbler of water, there comes a point where simply no more will be absorbed. Sarah Waters

We started the day with sunshine! Which after yesterday was a glorious treat. This morning we woke up to birds singing and outside our window is a beautiful lake. There is something quite delightful about the old world charm of the Boar's Head Inn. It started with breakfast this morning, from how to where it was served. It isn't fancy. But it is charming, like staying in a country inn. With warmth and attention to detail. I am so used to cities where no one wants to connect with ANYONE!  

Peter and I went to visit Monticello. The home of Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson taught himself to speak French, Italian, and other languages. He was a gifted architect (also a self taught skill) and what appears to be what I would call a "gadget man!" He named his home, Monticello, which in Italian translates to "Little Mountain." Which is perfect for this home, because it is tucked right into a mountain. A very ideal and tranquil setting. It took him 40 years to build Monticello and this home has NOTHING to do with his public or political life. It had everything to do with his life as a man. His love for learning and for experimentation with plants, science, learning, language, and technology. Every aspect of this comes through in this house. He also was the founder of the University of Virginia. A campus which had NO religious affiliation. For he believed education and religion should be separated, and therefore created such an institution for this to occur. On his property, perched up high he would look through the trees with his telescope to assess the progress builders were making and this gave him great joy when he was in his late 70s!  
Here are the facts on Thomas Jefferson. He was the author of the Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom. He was the third president of the United States, and the founder of the University of Virginia -- voiced the aspirations of a new America as no other individual of his era. As public official, historian, philosopher, and plantation owner, he served his country for over five decades.
Of course given the era that Jefferson lived, he maintained about 200 slaves. In fact, now historians believe that Jefferson was the father of one of his slave's children. Jefferson's wife died at an early age. He had six children with his wife, of which only two remained alive. He never remarried. I realize it would be very easy for us to judge Jefferson by our modern standards and condemn him for his decisions and choices. Naturally as Peter and I walked through his home, we did not condone the slavery that we heard about or the persecution or any individual. Quite on the contrary. But I live in 2014, not in the 1770s. As I watched a documentary on Jefferson at Monticello, we got to understand that Jefferson himself despised slavery, but he also admitted that he did not have the courage to address this issue in his lifetime. That it would have to be for the next generation. At least he was candid about it and honest. 

This is the beautiful exterior of Monticello! We went on a first floor tour of the house. We were unable to take photos inside the house, so I downloaded a few from the website to show you. 

To me, Monticello had a very masculine feeling inside! But that could be because Jefferson's wife was not living in the house with him. He designed the house, and really it was like his classroom and his place for experimentation! This was the grand entrance way! NOT at all like George Washington's Mount Vernon!!! Instead it has a very classroom feeling to it! Jefferson was clearly obsessed with time. Clocks seemed to be in every room. Right over the door was an impressive clock whose case was designed by Jefferson. The clock ran on gravity. The weights were cannon balls!  Also in this entrance way were art displays. This was designed to keep his visitors busy and entertained while they waited for him. There were 11 copies of old Master paintings as well as busts of prominent figures such as Alexander Hamilton and Voltaire. The room held natural history specimens such as antlers and bones, as well as maps, such as one of Virginia as surveyed by Jefferson's father, Peter Jefferson, To accommodate many visitors, the room contained up to twenty-eight chairs.

The dining room featured one of Monticello's thirteen skylights, a wine dumbwaiter on either side of fireplace which brought wine up from the cellar below and a serving door with shelves which enabled the help to move dishes in and out of the room more easily and with fewer intrusions to diners. There were also Wedgwood decorations on fireplace! But it was Jefferson who designed the dumbwaiters on either side of the fireplace to bring wine up from the cellars. He was completely into gadgets and inventions and also very influenced by the culture and customs of France. At one point he was the Minister of France, and as such, he learned a great deal about the cuisine of France. From wine to food!

We now have entertainment rooms. Back then they had Palors! In his palor, Jefferson had games, art, and music. The room displayed much of Jefferson's art collection and was the site of weddings, dances, and christenings. Several tables for cards or other amusements were in the room, as well as musical instruments such as a harpsichord and piantoforte. 

This room was Jefferson's bedroom and office. The bed was in an alcove. A technique of architecture he learned in France. Though he was over six feet tall, this bed looked SUPER small. But they say this was the size of his bed and he had a pink bed spread not unlike this one. The round holes at the top of the room, were air holes. Not windows. This was where he stored his clothes. Like a closet for his clothes, when they were not in use! The funny part is to access them you needed a ladder.

On the other side of the bed was his office. What I love about this office, was this particular gadget on the deck. It was called a polygraph. Of course when we think of a polygraph, we think of a lie detector machine. In his case, the polygraph was like a xerox machine. As he wrote a letter, in tandem the machine had a pen copying his message on a piece of paper right next to him. Since he was a prolific writer, having copies of his work were crucial. 

The exterior of the house
was very special and was to be appreciated. However, I was a bit surprised by the LACK of flowers. But the garden tour explained this!

Glorious Sunflowers!

My Peter Jefferson in front of Monticello! I think it is funny that Thomas Jefferson's father's name was Peter Jefferson. Peter's middle name is Jefferson! Though Peter's middle name is a family name, in many ways, Peter is a lot like Thomas Jefferson. Very time conscious, very into learning, and VERY much into gadgets and understanding how things work!

Vicki in front of the Blue Mountains.

Thomas Jefferson wanted to grow grapes and to start his own vineyard. The problem was he never watered his grapes. He was in the mountains! Any water he brought to the house, was for drinking, cleaning, or bathing. Watering flowers and a garden was low on the priority list. Which explains why there aren't English type gardens around this house. 

Jefferson was an avid gardener! The vegetable   garden was a kind of laboratory where he could experiment with imported squashes and broccoli from Italy, and beans collected by the Lewis and Clark expeditionfigs from France, and peppers from Mexico. Although he would grow as many as twenty varieties of bean and fifteen types of English peas, his use of the scientific method selectively eliminated inferior types.

July 24, 2014

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken on July 24 of 2008. Mattie had been diagnosed with cancer the day before and on the 24th we went to Georgetown University Hospital and met his oncologist. You may notice a boat floating in the tub. This boat was made out of a cardboard box that Mattie constructed in the cancer clinic with his art therapists. Naturally Mattie wanted to take the boat home and float it in the tub. This was one of MANY, MANY card board boxes Mattie constructed with, and Mattie's art therapists learned quickly the importance of saving all shipping boxes that came into the clinic for Mattie!

Quote of the day: There is no point treating a depressed person as though she were just feeling sad, saying, 'There now, hang on, you'll get over it.' Sadness is more or less like a head cold- with patience, it passes. Depression is like cancer. ~ Barbara Kingsolver

Peter and I made the drive to Charlottesville, VA today for several reasons. We both needed a break from constant work. I have been staring at a computer screen day in and day out for over a month, so much so that my eyes are twitching and I am having trouble concentrating. Second, with the anniversary of Mattie's death, it is a time of year that continues to be very challenging for us, as is summer in general. Then the final reason is tomorrow is my birthday. My birthday is fraught with major issues for me. Mattie was diagnosed with cancer two days before my birthday in 2008, and somehow, that has forever changed the whole notion of this day for me. As Peter often says..... since Mattie's death, all holidays and milestones a family normally celebrates are impossible for us to enjoy any more, so a birthday is no different, and sometimes when it all gets too overwhelming we just need to get out of town.  

Back in the days when Peter was in management consulting, he would come down to Charlottesville to recruit candidates at the University of Virginia. Peter had always talked about the Boars Head Inn and how special it was, so I decided we should go see it and stay there a few days, so here we are. Surrounded by the history of Thomas Jefferson ALL AROUND ME!

If there is one constant to the Washington, DC scene in the summer, it is rain and a lot of it. Today was no different. On the drive from DC to Charlottesville it was not bad, but once we reached Charlottesville, things really picked up. It was a deluge! Rain like I have never seen or experienced!

Charlottesville is known for its wineries. In fact there are 30 in the region which have been inspired by Thomas Jefferson's vision of wine making. These 30 vineyards are on the Monticello Wine Trail with all historic significance and amazing views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. My friend Annie, who lives close to Charlottesville, recommended that we visit Pippin Hill Farm and Winery ( Which offers a vineyard tasting room and farm to table menu which makes it a distinctive wine and food experience. We arrived at the winery between downpours and had just enough time for Peter to take a picture of me in front of the sign and for us to make it to the covered porch.

The approach drive climbing up the hill to the winery.  The scenery was something out of a movie, with rolling green hills, open fields, rows and rows of grapes and seated neatly near the top of the hill a beautiful winery.
This is the walkway leading to the winery.  It was lined with beautiful hydrangeas getting ready to bloom.  As you can see in the background, the clouds were approaching quite rapidly, so we moved quickly to get under the cover of the winery's beautiful covered porch.

We settled in on the porch and got comfortable, and a few minutes later we watched as the entire valley in front of us was quickly overcome with the downpours, clouds, and driving rain. It was fantastic to watch under the cover of the large porch (see below).

Peter took this shot of one of the hills across the valley. There was something quite stunning about watching the storms blow through (especially because we were not really getting wet). We ordered lunch, sat and chatted and watched mother nature's show in front of us.
Between breaks in the storm, I had Peter run out and take some pictures of the grapes growing. It was quite a sight to see all these long rows of vines, some of which had grapes on them. 

This is a shot of the porch where we sat, protected from the rain, and enjoyed a slow afternoon of lunch and rain watching.
Peter captured the view of the valley from the porch and the table where we sat. Meanwhile in the distance we could see cows grazing, totally unfazed by the downpours!

No trip to the countryside would be complete without my favorites: cows!  Sure enough, once the rain let up, we could see a herd slowing making their way across their pasture land, grazing in the rain as they went.

This is another shot of the beautiful wildflowers that the winery had planted contrasted by the rows of grape vines behind them. The sights were priceless!
After the winery tour, we traveled to the Boars Head Inn and checked into our room. Waiting for us when we arrived was a beautiful handpicked bouquet of flowers that our friends, Annie and Alex, who live near Charlottesville picked from their garden and had left for us at the front desk, as a welcoming gift to Charlottesville.  I particularly like the collection of different sunflowers so prominently displayed in the bouquet. I am a huge sunflower fan! When Mattie had cancer, our care team would give me sunflowers. To me they are a symbol of happiness, strength, and courage. So as soon as we walked into our room, I knew they were from Annie. I know Annie grows sunflowers and she loves them too. 

I met Annie shortly after Mattie died, while advocating on Capitol Hill. Annie lost her daughter, Eloise, to cancer 8 months after Mattie. When we met, we seemed to share many similar thoughts and feelings. Over time, we continued to write to each other and we would meet for lunch whenever Annie would come to DC. This is the first time Peter and I are in Annie and Alex's neck of the woods and it was lovely to be able to get together tonight and have dinner. As I told Annie, great sadden brought us together, but her friendship is very important to me and helps me put my own feelings into context at times which I appreciate. It is ironic that Annie's birthday is the day after mine, so tonight we celebrated both birthdays.

July 23, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken on July 23 of 2008, the day Mattie was diagnosed with cancer. This is a day Peter and I shall never forget and today marks the sixth anniversary of this event. But like all anniversaries, as time moves on, so do the people who shared this moment with us. Time may heal the wounds of everyone else around us, but it hasn't healed ours and as people forget it only exacerbates how we feel. 

Quote of the day: Oh, sometimes I think it is of no use to make friends. They only go out of your life after awhile and leave a hurt that is worse than the emptiness before they came.  L.M. Montgomery

On the anniversary of Mattie's diagnosis, it seems appropriate to reflect on the day that he was diagnosed. Two weeks before diagnosis, Mattie was enrolled in a tennis camp with his friend, Charlotte. In fact, I always credit this camp for identifying the issue before Mattie broke a bone, which is a very typical way kids with osteosarcoma are diagnosed. Mattie had never played tennis before, so it seemed very plausible that he injured himself in camp. Mattie complained of arm pain and he was having trouble lifting his arm. He couldn't lift his right arm over his head at all. While he was in the second week of camp, I had to attend a conference in San Diego. So I flew out to San Diego and Peter took off of work to spend those days with Mattie. It was during that time, Mattie and Peter designed two garden fountains for me for my birthday. Gifts that are precious and priceless to me and I still use them today! In fact while I am writing this book chapter this summer, I have the windows open to listen to Mattie's fountains!

While I was at the conference, I would call home daily. Peter would give me a report about Mattie's arm. I did not like what I was hearing and knew as soon as I got home, I was taking Mattie to the pediatrician. Which is literally what I did. I got home on a Saturday and on Monday, I took Mattie to be examined! Fortunately Mattie had a great pediatrician who took us seriously. Because the number one reason children's cancer metastasizes at the time of diagnosis is because it isn't detected early. Pediatricians are not used to screening for childhood cancers, and it is understandable because it is rare. After all, for example only 3% of children in the US are diagnosed with osteosarcoma, the kind of cancer Mattie had!  

Mattie's doctor sent us for an xray that day. Since Mattie never had an xray before or any kind of scanning, he was NOT afraid of the process at all. He hopped on up and complied. However, I was with the tech behind the glass partition and I could tell he wasn't happy with what he was seeing which perplexed me. He just kept taking xrays. But again, I thought nothing of it. He then escorted us to a holding room, which had other people in it, all adults. While in the room a phone rang. None of the other patients answered it, so I went over to get it. The person asked to talk to Mattie's mom, which of course was me. On the phone was the radiologist who proceeded to tell me that something was found on the xray and I had to go back to the pediatrician's office. But I did not like his tone on the phone, so I told him I wasn't leaving the room until he told me what he saw. It was at that point on the phone, in front of a group of strangers, that I heard Mattie had osteosarcoma. With Mattie watching me no less. 

When he told me Mattie had osteosarcoma, I had no idea what that meant, so I asked him for clarification. He told me it was a form of bone cancer and I asked him about treatments. Again, he was sketchy and told me to go see Mattie's doctor. I kept calm for Mattie's sake and somehow found my way back to the doctor's office with Mattie in tow. I then text messaged Peter to come to the hospital. Mattie's pediatrician seemed upbeat about the prognosis and treatment, while I felt my world was crashing in on me. Of course what she did not know at the time was this was only one of many primary bone tumors that Mattie had. With additional scanning, we learned that Mattie had a bone tumor in both arms, his right leg, and his left wrist, making Mattie's case HIGHLY unique and very rare.  

This may have occurred six years ago today, but for me, it may have happened yesterday! The details are very clear in my head. As I imagine anyone's cancer diagnosis day would be!