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: www.mattiemiracle.com 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

August 27, 2011

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2007 in front of the Hotel del Coronado in California. Peter took this picture of Mattie and asked Mattie to do something silly. Which may help explain the pose you are seeing.


Quote of the day: Nothing that grieves us can be called little; by the external laws of proportion a child's loss of a doll and a king's loss of a crown are events of the same size. ~ Mark Twain

Though I thought there would be NO repaving last night! I was very wrong. They were up and operational throughout the night. Peter got the camera out and took pictures of this nightmare. They have finished with our side of the highway, and now they are on the other side of the road. Despite that, the noise was EQUALLY as loud. The lights, sounds, and vibrations are truly over the top and make it impossible to sleep!
In this picture you can see the amazing number of dump trucks needed for this project. This goes on throughout the night and usually stops around 4am. Though they are making headway, they are still not finished. So we have more in store for us next week! Needless to say, after over a week without much sleep it has impacted my mood. 
We stayed home today because I must admit the media got to me with all the hurricane Irene warnings. Peter understands the weather better than I do, and could tell we were going to get a lot of rain, but not much else. Nonetheless, I did not want to go out today, and I wouldn't let him go out and walk in this weather either. I was very saddened to hear about the 11 year old boy who lost his life in Newport News, VA, when a tree hit his second floor bedroom window and killed him. His mother was in the room with him when this happened, and I can only imagine her level of devastation tonight. A devastation I know all too well.

Tonight as the rain was falling, we could hear Mattie's wind chimes singing in the wind. I haven't heard them in a while, and they naturally remind me of him, since they were one of the last birthday presents he gave me. The chimes remind me of a happier time, a time when Mattie was alive and filled our home with a lot of life. This evening, Peter was on our deck and grilling dinner outside. I title this picture... Peter and Hurricane Irene! As you can see Peter is all wet, and all our flowers have been removed from the walls of our deck. I prefer to be surrounded by our flowers and seeing less wall, so I look forward to putting our garden back together tomorrow when this is all over.

August 26, 2011

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2007 in Coronado, CA. Mattie loved these surreys and riding on them. The funny part about all of this was it was very hard to move this surrey. It isn't as easy as bicycle riding. Mattie got a major kick out of watching us struggle to peddle and pump this thing, and I think we had more fun laughing about this than actually riding and exploring the Island.

Quote of the day: Grief is not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve. ~ Earl Grollman



First an earthquake. Then the aftershocks. And now an impending hurricane.
"This has been perhaps the most unusual week in the history of the District of Columbia," D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said at his pre-hurricane news conference Friday afternoon.

I spent part of the day trying to get ready for Hurricane Irene. We have lived in our complex for over 15 years, and in all this time, management never wrote a memo to their residents requesting that flower pots, flags, chairs, and so forth be placed inside. So today's memo and notice caught my attention. As I went grocery shopping, I could see panic ensuing. I am used to this hysteria in the winter time, but not in the summer months. All of this news coverage can make you feel very unsettled.

I think after experiencing cancer and Mattie's death, I am highly sensitive to things that are beyond my control, such as natural crises like a hurricane. This afternoon, I met up with my friend Tina, and we went for ice cream. Things always seem a little better over ice cream. I can assure you I ate a lot of ice cream when Mattie was in the hospital!

Tina and her family were in the Outer Banks, NC on vacation. However, yesterday people were evacuated from the Outer Banks and therefore her vacation was cut three days short. I remember going to the Outer Banks with Mattie, and I can't imagine how I would have felt cutting short my vacation. I most likely would have been in a terrible mood. However, when I mentioned this to Tina, her response caught my attention. She basically said that coming home early from a vacation is unpleasant but not horrible. That what I lived through and continue to live through is horrible. So in essence what Tina is saying to me is that Mattie and my life has put things into context for her. She said she is healthy and her children are healthy, so she has nothing to complain about. I thought her response was very sensitive and I appreciated it. When your life changes dramatically, it is good to know that others around you can comprehend your thoughts and feelings.

Peter and I both woke up today and remembered that we dreamed about Mattie. What are the chances that we both should have such a dream? In Peter's dream, Mattie was well and trying to accomplish a task. Mattie was sharing this achievement with Peter. In my dream, Mattie had cancer, and we were at some sort of concert, and I was carrying him around and he was unhappy. Two very different dreams, with two very different meanings. I am signing off early because I am still not feeling well and am also battling a migraine. For all our readers impacted by Hurricane Irene, you are in our thoughts.

August 25, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2007 in Coronado, CA. Though we did not stay at the famous Hotel Del Coronado, we did walk and bicycle to the Hotel. We took Mattie inside the Hotel, had lunch there, and walked the beach. I can't recall who took this picture, but most likely it was me since it wasn't centered. I love the composition of Mattie in his yellow shirt right next to all those beautiful marigolds!

Quote of the day: When a person is born we rejoice, and when they're married we jubilate, but when they die we try to pretend nothing has happened. ~ Margaret Mead

Though today was a zumba class, I did not go. I wasn't feeling up to it. We haven't slept well since we got home from Alaska. Every night at 9pm sharp, repaving is occurring right outside our bedroom window. The machines used to break up the road and then to repave it are beyond loud! This sound goes on from 9pm until around 4am. This morning it stopped at 5am, and that is what time I went to bed! I am not sure how Peter is going to work on such lack of sleep, but I suppose he got used to that when Mattie had cancer. Though the District is undergoing a flash flood warning today, and bearing down for Hurricane Irene this weekend, I am hoping that the rain prevents road construction. I need three days of SLEEP! Who would have ever guessed I would welcome rain!!!

I spent the day at home working on Foundation items. As I was processing Foundation contributions today, I had the pleasure of receiving a beautiful letter from a parent at Mattie's school. Sue is the Girl Scout troop leader at the school and she wanted me to know that her Troop selected Mattie Miracle as their hometown hero, and with that donated their girl scout cookie sales from 2011 to the Foundation! We are so honored to named a Hometown Hero! Naturally in my mind Mattie will always be our hero, and the Foundation is just trying to live up to his NAME.

Here is an excerpt from what Sue wrote, "During Girl Scoot cookie time, each troop is allowed to designate organizations as their gift of caring/Hometown Heroes. The girls chose the Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation as a Hometown Hero, and have donated this money from the proceeds of their cookie sales. Mattie is alive in the hearts of these girls, but it seems to me, more proof that the saying, 'all I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten.' These girls have learned the value of friendship and the bond that still exists from earth to heaven. While not all of them had the chance to know Mattie personally, there is a connection that he was one of their classmates, and a reminder of him as they walk passed the oak tree."

Tonight Peter and I are meeting Linda (Mattie's Childlife Specialist) and Tim (Associate Administrator in the Department of Pediatrics) for dinner. Linda wants to introduce us to Korean food and we will be talking about next steps to support Linda and her childlife program. Linda is another person who we are fortunate to have in our lives and this connection was established by Mattie. Though he is not physically with us, his presence is felt and it remains alive in the connections he helped to establish for us.

August 24, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2007. Mattie was five years old. Each summer we took Mattie to California to visit my parents. Several years in a row, my parents took all of us to Coronado, in San Diego. Outside our hotel there was a man made lake with a fountain. Surrounding this body of water were flamingos. What I love about this picture is that I captured Mattie doing his flamingo impression, with one leg up in the air. This was how he observed flamingos resting and he wanted me to remember this fact.

Quote of the day: In youth one has tears without grief; in age, griefs without tears. ~ Joseph Roux

I began my day by reading the front page of the Food section of The Washington Post. On this page I found a wonderful article about the professional lobbyist, Brett Thompson, who is helping the Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation. However, the article wasn't about his day job, but instead about his other passion, BBQ sauce. Brett and a former colleague of his, Heath, teamed up to design, create, bottle, and sell a wonderful one of a kind BBQ sauce. A sauce that has won them several significant awards, such as the most recent which was first place at the National Capital BBQ Battle. This sauce is sold nationwide and in addition, this dynamic duo is opening up a local restaurant and several others to follow within the year. Click here to read the Post article:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/smoke-signals-on-the-brink-of-a-new-barbecue-era/2011/08/16/gIQAChWcZJ_story.html

I find it quite ironic how we met Brett. It all began in 2010 when he donated a case of his BBQ sauce to our Walk to raffle off as a prize. We accepted this contribution but then several months later had the opportunity to thank and meet Brett in person. Of course, when Peter and I met Brett for coffee, we had no idea he was a lobbyist, and also had no idea that he wanted to take us on as a probono client. Brett is a special person to us and the Foundation, and I was so happy to read about his incredible success with his company.

Peter and I had the wonderful opportunity to meet up with Maureen, the executive director, and Lauren, the director of public policy, of the Children's Cause Cancer Advocacy (CCCA). For more information on CCCA, please visit: http://www.childrenscause.org/. It was lovely to catch up with these women and to hear about the wonderful things their organization is achieving for pediatric cancer. I appreciate their inclusion of us and their willingness to get us involved in their events. But most of all I value their sincerity and mission to help children and their families with pediatric cancer. I have been extremely disillusioned by some of the other pediatric cancer groups and when you find an organization like CCCA, I feel it is important to acknowledge their integrity.  

It was a busy day, but in the midst of this day, I find am feeling very run down and have a low grade fever. Despite that, I met up with Ann and her cousin, JP, for lunch today. It was my chance to say goodbye to JP, since he is headed back to Boston this evening. This evening, Peter and I are having dinner with Jerry and Nancy from the Hospital. As my faithful readers know, Jerry and Nancy were the dynamic music volunteers who always got us singing and at times they helped us forget about the endless battle we were fighting. Mattie loved his time with Jerry and Nancy, so much so, that they developed a Name that Tune game just for Mattie. The game was rigged in a way, since Jerry and I would email each other days before the game took place, to make sure Mattie indeed knew all the songs they were going to play for him and thereby be able to win a prize. Our goal was to get Mattie engaged, moving around, and stimulated. Most times we were successful. Though Mattie is gone from all of our lives, the connection Mattie created between us and Jerry and Nancy is alive and well.

August 23, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 -- Mattie died 102 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2007. Peter took Mattie out on the Potomac River and was teaching him how to row a boat. On that particular day, they both invited me along for the experience. I am happy that I had these moments and also captured them on camera. I am not sure most people would bring along a camera on a row boat, but if Mattie was with me, so was the camera!


Quote of the day: What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us. ~  Helen Keller

An absolutely brilliant quote! Mattie was a part of us biologically, but even in his death, he remains a vital part of our lives. Despite the fact that today marks the 102nd week Mattie has been gone from our lives, his life, love, and personality remain fresh in our minds and hearts. As time marches on, we still remember and NO it doesn't get easier. Time does NOT heal all wounds and this is just one of many cliches I can't stand.

Peter and I are completely sleep deprived. For over a week, there has been road repairs going on outside our bedroom window. The repairs begin at 9pm and they go through 3 or 4am. The machines are LOUD and the lights they use are bright. All I know is if I don't get some sleep soon, things here won't be pleasant. 

I met with Mary's caregiver, Shayla, today. We ventured to her college to ask specific questions about her program of study and the next steps she needs to take to become a nurse. I have spent the majority of my life in some sort of educational setting that I can safely say I feel very comfortable navigating in such an environment. I guess I don't realize these skills, until I am placed in such a situation like I was today. Shayla and I had a very productive visit and I can say that I am definitely learning a great deal about the educational requirements to become a nurse.

This afternoon, I met up with Ann, Tanja, and their families for lunch. It was a pleasant lunch, until 1:50pm. At first I didn't know what was happening to us. I began to feel dizzy, which for me isn't unusual, since I still feel moments where I am motion sick from the cruise. Even now! Since the DC area typically doesn't get earthquakes, my initial thought was something hit the building or we were under attack. However, I quickly recognized the feeling having gone through several earthquakes while attending high school in Los Angeles. As we were shaking and rolling, Ann and I looked at each other, and we knew we were experiencing an earthquake. However, those around us unfamiliar with the feeling were simply besides themselves. One restaurant employee was so disturbed by this feeling, that she had to leave work because she was having a break down from fear. The scary part about all of this is the panic around us. No one here is prepared for an earthquake, and worse most people have no idea how to protect one's self from a quake. Ann and I were directing people to go under tables. Standing in a door jam wasn't possible, since the door was surrounded by glass in our case.

Of course the initial fear is HOW long will this last? Or will we experience aftershocks?  The  quake measured a 5.8 on the Richter scale and was centered near Richmond. However, it was felt throughout the D.C. metro region and over a large part of the eastern U.S (Karen felt it in NY and Peter's brother felt it in Boston!). Fortunately the area did not receive much damage or injuries. The one part of this whole experience that was daunting was we had NO cell phone coverage for about 20 minutes post-quake. Thankfully emails and text messages went through and Peter and I were able to communicate with each other. He was in DC, and most DC buildings were evacuated today. Though I couldn't call Peter, my parents were able to call me and they were the ones filling me in on the extent of the earthquake. Ironic since they were calling from California! In Los Angeles, I remember having earthquake drills in school, just like most kids are used to fire drills. It is my hope that schools in this area begin to prepare students for such a crisis on campus, since we know that quakes do happen here.

I found this website that streams photos from DC and NY. The photos capture earthquake damage and reactions. I found them very moving and decided to include this link tonight. Just click on the pictures at the bottom of this link to see the photo display. As Tuesdays are earth shattering for us, it seems most appropriate that this earthquake would happen today.

Local photos of earthquake damage and reactions:
http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Major-Monuments-Closed-in-DC-for-Quake-128275528.html

August 22, 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2007 in a rowboat on the Potomac River. As you can see Peter took Mattie out fishing. Mattie and Peter had their own fishing poles, lures, and tackle boxes. They enjoyed these adventures together. Even today, if you look in the trunk of Peter's car, you will find a tackle box. However, Peter hasn't been fishing since Mattie died. So in a way the tackle box remains in the car as a memory of weekend trips with Mattie.

Quote of the day: I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge - myth is more potent than history - dreams are more powerful than facts - hope always triumphs over experience - laughter is the cure for grief - love is stronger than death. ~ Robert Fulghum

When I think about what is in our car trunks, it does make me pause. Mattie may be gone physically from our lives, but his presence remains in our cars. If you should open my trunk you would think there was a child in my life. I have Mattie's car seat, stroller, toys, and Sponge Bob blanket in there. I am not sure why they remain in my car, but for now I am not moving them!

This September 8th, we will be acknowledging the second anniversary of Mattie's death. Peter and I are already giving thought to how we will spend this day. On the morning of the 8th, we have been invited by Peter's Georgetown University business school professor to give a presentation to his creativity and innovation class. His class has adopted the Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation as their community based learning project. We are very excited to work with these young minds and hear their thoughts throughout the semester for creative ways for our Foundation to grow and develop. On the 8th, we will talk to them about Mattie, discuss his cancer battle, and share the video tribute of Mattie that we created for the Grand Rounds presentation in May. We will then talk to them about the Foundation and give them some ideas for things we need help with. I clearly know what we are doing the morning of the 8th, but I am not sure what we are doing for the rest of the day. We could plan another oak tree gathering at Mattie's school, like we did last year, but I am just not sure. As time moves on, so do others. I am very cognizant of this, and realize others may not need to have a remembrance in place like we do.

As I was driving this afternoon to meet my friends Tanja and Katharina (Tanja's 11 year old daughter) for lunch, I heard a song on the radio that immediately caught my attention. I knew very quickly the song was about cancer. Though the song primarily focuses upon breast cancer, I think it is quite applicable to anyone diagnosed with cancer and how it impacts a whole family. Needless to say, while driving and listening to the song, it made me cry. You can listen to this Martina McBride song for yourself, entitled, I'm Gonna Love you Through it.................http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxIt70j_SPk

I haven't seen Tanja and Katharina for over a month. They have been traveling during summer vacation, and today we got together to share summer stories and compare notes on Alaska. We had a lovely lunch sitting outside and catching up. Though Katharina is 11 years old, she enjoys spending time sitting and chatting. In a way, this reminds me of myself growing up. I was always included in adult conversation, and whether I participated in it or not, I absorbed it and became a good listener. A skill that has served me well. I appreciate that Katharina wants to be engaged with me, and doesn't tune me out with an electronic device. I also should mention that regardless of where Katharina was this summer on vacation, she always emailed me to say hi. In fact, last week when I got a flat tire, she was concerned and was going to come over with her mom to help me. Needless to say, I appreciate this special connection with a young person and on some level I think Katharina understands this.   

August 21, 2011

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2007. Peter took Mattie for a rowboat ride on the Potomac River to go fishing. As you can see, Mattie caught a catfish. Peter snapped the picture and then threw the catfish right back in the water. Peter and Mattie had many weekend activities that they liked to do together, and when Mattie would return home from these adventures I got to hear all about them. Our weekends look quite different now.

Quote of the day: Anger is a symptom, a way of cloaking and expressing feelings too awful to experience directly – hurt, bitterness, grief and, most of all, fear. ~ Joan Rivers

Anger certainly may be a symptom but it is a very powerful emotion that surfaces in the grief process. It certainly isn't easy to be the recipient of such anger, but chances are the person grieving doesn't mean to unleash such feelings on purpose on those closest to him/her. However, if you understand where the anger is coming from then it is easier not to take these hostilities personally. One thing I have learned the hard way is that grieving is a long process and not a process everyone wants to walk with you on in the long run. After all such a process requires the ability to sit with emotions, to accept and hear painful feelings, and to also understand that there are no quick fixes to coping with the loss of a child. Being a friend to someone who has lost a child is a challenging endeavor. Mainly because there are many highs and lows in a given day or week, and unfortunately the emptiness in one's life from losing a child always cloud's one's perspective and interactions. However, I am thankful to my friends who keep emailing me and who try to include me in their lives. It does make a difference.

Today for example, I was trading emails with my friend Tina while she was driving to the Outer Banks, NC. She wanted me to know that she enjoys my company and that there was room to join her on her vacation. Naturally I wouldn't dream about interrupting a friend's vacation with her family and friends, but it was knowing that she wanted to include me that mattered. Life after Mattie's death has changed so many aspects of our lives, and one of the biggest changes is our social network. Our network was once huge, because it was comprised of other parents with children. However, we no longer have the same opportunities or reasons to connect, and with that, relationships and activities that were once so crucial and vital begin to fade away.

This morning, Peter and I walked to our local boathouse and we rented a kayak. We paddled together, which looks easier than it really is. I remember the first time I tried doing this with Peter in the Outer Banks, I gave up within minutes. I am getting better at this now, but still could never do this without Peter. Peter did rowing in high school and college, and has incredible strength. While in the kayak, I literally held the camera right near me and snapped a picture of us.



During our journey, I tried to take over the paddling to give Peter a break. We traveled passed Roosevelt Island on our kayak and as you can see Peter apparently snapped a picture of me while in motion.

As is typical during any Washington, DC summer day, the weather began to turn. The sky turned grey and the wind began picking up. I tried to snap a picture of some of the waves on the Potomac today. Peter did not like what he was seeing in the sky and suggested we get the kayak back to shore. Since Peter seems to understand the weather better than most meteorologists, I usually don't challenge his assessments. He called this correctly today, because within an hour, we experienced violent storms. By that point however, we were fortunately home and watching it from our windows. Well I was watching the storm from inside, Peter was outside in it. Mattie was always fascinated to watch Peter's reaction to the weather, and Mattie usually joined in on Peter's adventures. Adventures out in the rain, the snow, etc. I have a feeling Peter misses his side kick during moments like this.