Mattie Miracle 10th Anniversary Walk was an $119,000 success!

Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation Promotional Video

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 7th anniversary!

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

We are a 501(c)(3) Public Charity. We are dedicated to increasing childhood cancer awareness, education, advocacy, research and psychosocial support services to children, their families and medical personnel. Children and their families will be supported throughout the cancer treatment journey, to ensure access to quality psychosocial and mental health care, and to enable children to cope with cancer so they can lead happy and productive lives. 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

February 16, 2020

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken in February of 2008. Mattie was almost six years old and that weekend we took him for a walk on Roosevelt Island. Which was a usual occurrence for us on the weekends. Mattie loved the Island and this particular spot. Do notice the big stick in Mattie's hand, as he loved to collect sticks and bring them home to add to his collection. Peter and I took Sunny to Roosevelt Island this weekend and of course passed this exact location that we snapped this photo 12 years ago. 

Quote of the day: True love stories never have endings.Richard Bach

Peter and I were watching an episode of Dirty Jobs today. If you haven't seen this series with Mike Rowe, it is worth checking out. As it isn't only educational, but it is very humorous. The episode we saw today was called "Exotic Nanny." Mike visited Sharkarosa, a non-profit in Texas (an hour from Dallas) featuring a 126 acre educational park that enables the public to experience rare and endangered exotic wildlife in a unique and personal setting. Have you ever heard of a zorse or zedonk? Well such cross breeds exist at Sharkarosa!

The zorse and zedonk – half zebra and half horse, and half zebra and half donkey!

Did you know that a male kangaroo's  hind legs can disembowel opponents (with that HUGE nail) such as other kangaroos or other animals? So they should be considered dangerous to people on foot, especially if they are approaching the animal too closely or scare it by accident.

The episode today also showed Mike running around with Sharkarosa employees after the kangaroos. They tried throwing nets over the female kangaroos that had a baby in the pouch. They do this so that they can acclimate the baby to human touch, noises, and drinking from a bottle. If this isn't done while the babies are still in the pouch, then the babies as they grow will never be comfortable around humans. Making it impossible for them to be transferred to zoos and other non-profits who educate the public about these beautiful animals. 

Watching them running around after the kangaroos was a sight to see. Kangaroos are fast, very strong, and you have to be careful not to get hit by the claws or the tail. 

All I know is Mattie would have loved this episode today and I am quite sure if he saw it, he would have requested that we make a family trip to Sharkarosa! 

Check out this short video on the Sharkarosa Wildlife Ranch:

February 15, 2020

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken on February 24, 2009. Mattie was home between hospital visits. Mattie loved all sorts of water play and when the Mattie couldn't get to the tub, I tried to make the tub come to him. We set up a waterproof table cloth on the floor and brought out big pots filled with water. Mattie had a great time washing his vehicles and playing. One thing about Mattie, was that he really did force those of us around him to think outside the box. As there was always more than way to get something done. With Mattie, I was motivated and always rose to the challenge. 

Quote of the day: There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart. Jane Austen

Yesterday I was listening to the radio, and I heard about the Washington Post article entitled, Rats will devour your car! A rather funny title really because it leaves you wondering how on earth a rodent could possibly take on a large metal object? But living in DC, I am not at all surprised! Since I am quite sure the city has more rodents than people. 

Rats, better known for inhabiting sewers and dumpsters, also love to settle in the innards of vehicles in cooler months (see the photo above, this is what a rat did under the hood of a car.... builds a nest out of rubbish and other found items). The warmth and shelter attracts them, but it's the wires and hoses that entertain them: Rats' teeth grow constantly, and they gnaw on things to keep their teeth trim. Inside an engine bay, they can blow fuses, start fires and even total cars. Blame is often cast on the soy-based wiring insulation that many auto manufacturers now use, which is considered ecologically sounder than the petroleum-derived insulation it replaced. The lawsuits have argued that it is also tastier to rodents and therefore defective, and that car warranties should cover rodent damage. 

Car owners in DC report significant car damage due to rodents. Try the $7,000 variety. Some car owners are so fed up that they have done one of two things..... 1) moved to a new home with enclosed parking, or 2) made it their life's mission to find rat deterrents to protect their car from further damage. Everything from wrapping car wires in sticky tape and hot pepper extract, to ultrasound waves, peppermint oil, owl decoys, and even electrified tiles under the car hood. There is even a man in San Diego, CA who started his own website:

All I know is I am very tired of seeing rats taking over our city. Of course Sunny LOVES it, and enjoys his evening walks, because he is focused on the art of the rat hunt! Not something we taught him. He is either naturally like this given he is a herding dog, or was taught to do this by his previous owner. Either case, my joke is the DC rat patrol teams could use Sunny! He is better at finding and locating rats than Orkin!

February 14, 2020

Friday, February 14, 2020

Friday, February 14, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken on February 14, 2009. I will never forget that day. I was locked out of the child life playroom at the hospital, so Mattie could work with his art therapists to great a Valentine's Day surprise for me. Mattie literally made me an entire box of Valentines. He decorated the box and even made me this glorious crown of hearts. I kept this box of wonderful creations and feel they are part of Mattie's legacy. Mattie's art therapist, Jenny, captured this photo of Mattie touching noses with me and looking into my eyes. This was a typical Mattie move, but one that wasn't always caught on camera, until this photo!

Quote of the day: We simply can't abandon ship every time we encounter a storm. Real love is about weathering the terms of life together. Seth Adam Smith

Nearly 64,000 cases of novel coronavirus have been reported in mainland China since December 31, 2019. This has become a global concern and something we hear about daily on the news. In fact, the CDC is closely monitoring the outbreak of this respiratory disease. On February 11, 2020, the World Health Organization named the disease 'coronavirus disease 2019' (abbreviated COVID-19). Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS, SARS, and now with this new virus (named SARS-COV2).

Just like cancer, clearly the first focus is on the MEDICINE! Drugs that can fight back the disease and mitigate symptoms and the spread of the disease. But now two months into this outbreak, guess what is popping up? That's right, mental health issues and concerns. An article entitled, China launches hundreds of mental health hotlines amid coronavirus outbreak, is running all over the internet. Every news agency seems to be covering the issue, because like with any medical issue, IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT THE MEDICINE. What is reportedly on the rise in China is depression and PTSD. 

Yet unlike the USA, mental health issues remain a relatively taboo subject, and two issues are bubbling to the surface because of this: 1) will people feel comfortable expressing these concerns to officials, and 2) will there be enough "trained" mental health professionals on hand to manage these concerns. Currently, China has 2.2 psychiatrists available for every 100,000 people, this ratio is five times lower in comparison to the USA. 

Yet Chinese medical professionals welcome the launch of government run hotlines. Can you imagine how difficult life is for those living in China now? Being quarantined, not knowing if you are going to contract the virus, must less die because of it. I view this as deeply scary and challenging to our most basic needs for safety as human beings. It is hard to believe that we live in the 21st century and yet outbreaks and medical crises like this still exist. 

China launches hundreds of mental health hotlines amid coronavirus outbreak:

February 13, 2020

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken on February 12, 2006. Mattie was almost four years old. He was enrolled in preschool, and on Valentine's Day, all the children were going to exchange cards with one another. Certainly I could have bought cards for Mattie to draw on and hand out, but I thought he'd prefer creating them. So together, we worked on these cards and by the time they finished they looked absolutely lovely! 

Quote of the day: Your flaws are perfect for the heart that's meant to love you.Trent Shelton

I have been glued all day to a 550 page licensure board agenda for tomorrow. Should be quite a Valentine's Day meeting. In the midst of non-stop reading, I received an email from my friend Maria. Maria works in our complex and knew Mattie as a baby and toddler, before he was diagnosed with cancer. I would say that Maria is part clairvoyant as she has the ability to gain information about people through extrasensory perception. Specifically as it relates to Mattie, she continues to have an annual dream in which Mattie seems to be in it and has something to communicate to her. The beauty of Maria, is she remembers her dreams too. Which is unusual, because I know for the most part when I dream  I have no clear idea or understanding of the content when I awake. 
Here is this year's dream that Maria shared with me:
Darryl and I were shopping. He and I were holding hands. In my other hand, I felt a small hand. Shocked I looked down. It was Mattie around 4 years old. He smiled at me. We walked to customer service to ask where the towel section was… The lady said go to aisle 12.
Mattie asked politely “where can I find the toy aisle, I want to buy a hot wheel.” The lady smiled and pointed. Mattie smiled at her
As we were walking towards the toy section Mattie let go of my hand and went ahead. He looked back, waived, and said, "tell mommy hi!"
Before Mattie died, if someone told me they had a such a vivid dream with a message, I would acknowledge it. But wouldn't necessary pay much attention to the content. Or I should say I would pay attention to the meaning of the content, but not wonder whether a deceased person could really communicate to a loved one through a dream. Now I am much more open minded. I also know Mattie and I wouldn't put anything passed him, because when he wanted to communicate he found a way to make his thoughts, feelings, and presence known! 

February 12, 2020

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken in March of 2008. We took Mattie to a nature park that weekend and we came across a HUGE tree that fell over in a storm. As you can see, Mattie wanted to check it out and Peter snapped us standing in front of the base of the tree. Do notice Mattie was carrying a stick. Not unusual for Mattie, as he liked to pick up sticks and take them home to add to his collection! I remember after he died, we had piles of sticks in our commons area that sat there for years. 

Quote of the day: Crisis or transition of any kind reminds us of what matters most. ~ Russell Ballard

Transitions of any kind are difficult. Some are more challenging and even more traumatic than others. I remember when Mattie was a toddler (pre-cancer), it was next to impossible to transition from one activity to another. He did not appreciate change, especially change that wasn't on his own time line. Of course with practice and a lot of work to manage and prepare him for transitions, we found a way through it and what resulted was growth. As Mattie learned how to regulate such transitions himself and developed the art of being more flexible. But these are "normal" developmental challenges, which though hard, typically with age improve and even out. 

I met with a friend today and though we did not set out to talk about this, the theme of our conversation was transitions. All of her children are now in college and she is faced with what to do next. Given her focus, for over a decade, has been on child rearing, a mom can become quite lost when her children leave home. In comparison to my friends, I have experienced the empty nest syndrome way before them. Of course unlike their situation, Mattie did not leave to go to college, he died. Which is a vast difference, but what I have come to understand is that I am far ahead of my friends on this transition. Certainly I would go as far as to say, that my empty nest transition was far harder and far more complex. Because when Mattie died, I had to figure out how I was going to try to move forward with this loss, I had to face the fact that my identity of being a mom changed, and I also had to come to terms with my priorities and interests changing. So much so that I had no desire to return to the work I had once done. Though on aside, a former student wrote this to me on Facebook today..........You were the best professor, friend and advocate I ever worked with. You are always on my mind. I told Theresa that she made my day. 

Transitions can be good, such as getting a new job, moving into a new house, going to college, getting married, having a baby, winning the lottery, going on vacation and so forth. But unfortunately not all transitions are happy ones. Instead, some transitions are placed upon us such as being in an accident, being diagnosed with an illness, helping a friend die, or facing another traumatic event. Some transitions you can't prepare for and even if you could, would you want to? We can't live our lives fearing we will face a crisis every minute of the day. As worrying non-stop is exhausting and can be counter productive, yet we all wish to believe that when such a transition is trust upon us we will rise to the occasion. 

What I learned about Mattie being diagnosed with cancer and then dying, is that not everyone is cut out to help you manage a transition or crisis. Those you think will be there, may surprise you, and walk away. Yet, in our case, we had an extraordinary network in our community, 'Team Mattie,' who rose to each challenge we faced over a 14 month cancer journey. It is rather extraordinary. Though I rather have Mattie alive (and never have had a first hand experience with childhood cancer), if I had to find meaning in his 14 month cancer journey, then one of the things I would say I learned was that Mattie's story touched peoples' hearts and minds. His energy mobilized forces and now even 10 years after he died, his memory still inspires friends to support us, the Foundation, and to help other children with cancer. Bottom line, whether the transition is positive or negative, there is always meaning to found, we just need to look for it. 

February 11, 2020

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Tuesday, February 11, 2020 -- Mattie died 541 weeks ago today. 

Tonight's picture was taken in March of 2008. That afternoon, Mattie came home from school and wanted more outdoor time. So we took his kite into our commons area and Mattie was learning how to fly it on his own. It is a sight I always loved seeing. Our commons area had just the right amount of wind to make it possible and our commons area was walled off from the street, so I never had to worry that Mattie was going to run into cars or bicycles.  

Quote of the day: Being able to communicate with coworkers via email and text messaging have turned our homes, the local coffee house, or virtually any place into an office space. ~ Gerald Corey

Like any licensed professional, we all have to do continuing education requirements to keep up to date in our field and to maintain our license. One of the professional organizations I am a member of provides one free CEU a month. It truly is a great perk and one that I am now taking advantage of. Every two years, I have to renew my license and as such I have to document 40 hours of continuing education. So think about it this way, if my professional association gives me access to one hour free a month, times that by 24 months (2 years), and more than half my requirements can be achieved without paying out of pocket (other than for my association membership of course). 

This months freebie is a one credit on ethics. So I thought this was going to cover specifics about our ethical guidelines or even decision making models when confronted with ethical dilemmas. Nope! To me surprise, the chapter I am required to read is focused on self care. Certainly it makes intuitive sense that if a mental health provider isn't caring for him or her, this will spill over into our work and our work relationships. When this happens issues with boundaries may arise and therefore can compromise our judgment and decision making. Truly that makes sense, but I never sat down long enough to think about it. 

Mainly because, all of us are moving and being pulled in twenty different directions in any given day. Trying to balance work and home life can feel next to impossible. The chapter does a lovely job discussing the challenges of working from home. With there being NO boundary at all. That work and home become synonymous with each other. I absolutely agree and I feel this way all the time. But it was nice to actually read about it and to hear that others too find this a significant problem. So significant that if not addressed properly, this can lead to burnout (which can be very easy to do, when running a non-profit without help). 

In fact, one particular line in this chapter caught my attention.... "her high degree of empathy and compassion for others resulted in losing herself in those relationships." How many of us can relate to this? I know I can whole heartily and trying to figure out how to keep my empathetic and kind nature, without being frazzled at the same time is important. Because I do think it is easier to give than to receive for many reasons, yet we do need to do both to survive and thrive. Any case, today's lesson was very interesting and one I wasn't expecting, as I was initially focused on the mechanics of ethics, and not truly taking a step back and connecting the dots between one's personal life influencing the professional one. 

Establishing Personal and Professional Boundaries (the chapter):

February 10, 2020

Monday, February 10, 2020

Monday, February 10, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken on February 27, 2008. That day Mattie's kindergarten class went to Martha's Table, to prepare sandwiches for the homeless members of our community. After all the sandwich assembly was done, Mattie and his friends took it upon themselves to clean up. Mattie and his closest buddies, Charlotte and Campbell, were sweeping away. I thought this was such a great sight, I took photos!

Quote of the day: You miss 100% of the chances you don’t take. ~ Wayne Gretzky

Tonight's quote resonates with me given what I have been working on all day. It is after 10pm, and I am still glued to the computer. What have I been doing? I have been looking for companies that donate to non-profits. Both financially and in kind contributions. It isn't as easy as you would think to apply for some of these opportunities and it is even harder to be selected as a recipient. 

The bigger companies won't even look at us unless we have an audited financial statement. Which is created by independent auditors who would attest to our financial statement's fairness and compliance with generally accepted accounting principles. Given our size and what we have been raising recently per year, we have moved to having a financial review by our CPA. But a financial audit is a big undertaking that is matched with an equally large price tag! A fee we can't justify spending right now. 

But as Gretzky's quote points out, I really won't know what we qualify for, unless I apply. So I have been busy typing away all day. Mind you I have a migraine, going on over 7 days now, and looking at the computer doesn't help. Therefore, I am signing off for tonight!