MATTIE MIRACLE VIRTUAL WALK WAS AN $110,000 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

September 24, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2008 in Mattie's hospital room. At first you may look at this picture and be confused by what you are seeing. The white and blue objects were blankets, and we helped Mattie create a tent made out of blankets so that he could feel safe and hide. If you look closely at Mattie's face, you will see instantly that he was not happy. Instead, he was exhausted, and in pain. In moments like this it is natural anyone would want to protect one's self from the outside world. As Mattie's cancer battle continued or wore on, he became more remote, and wanted to isolate himself from noise, friends, and family. This was a painful reality for many of us to watch, but my philosophy was we were going to do whatever it took for Mattie to feel comfortable and to help him get through his treatment. I do not usually reveal this, but balancing Mattie's need for isolation, and his community's desire to want to visit and support him were at times almost impossible to do, and I admit sometimes I did neither well.

Childhood Cancer Fact of the Day: As a result of treatment, 59% of children have a diagnosable mental health issue (DeMaso & Shaw, 2010).

There are some nights when writing the blog is easier than others. Tonight is not one of those easy nights. I am tired and therefore plan on making this shorter than usual.

Peter is in Los Angeles now with me, and together we went with my parents to Santa Barbara. With traffic, Santa Barbara is about two hours away from Los Angeles. As is typical with most California seaside towns, they start off foggy in the morning but as the day evolves, the sun eventually comes out and the fog seems to just disappear. On our drive to Santa Barbara, it seemed like we went through fog and rain, but eventually the sun did not disappoint us. We all had a lovely lunch by the pacific ocean, and though you can't see it, the ocean was behind us in this picture.


Along our drive home, I snapped some pictures of the beautiful terrain and ocean. By that time of day, the sun was out and shinning.
We drove passed a beautiful pumpkin patch, which you can see is filled with those lovely squash like fruits.
My final picture I took today was of these colorful clouds in the sky. I have no doubt that if Mattie were with me, he would have seen some sort of animal or other creature formed within these clouds. So in honor of Mattie, what I see is a flying pig. The pig's face is in profile, facing toward the left. Under the pig, is a crab, almost coming up to pinch the pig's belly. The only thing missing now is Mattie's commentary. But this gives you a feeling for the kinds of games we would play together.

September 23, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2008 in the Lombardi Clinic at the Hospital. As you can see Mattie discovered another medium there which he liked working with.... clay! In this picture Mattie was building a clay boat, with stick people included. Boats were fascinating to Mattie and if you asked him during the beginning portion of his treatment what he was saving his money for in his piggy bank, his answer would be to buy a boat. NOT a toy boat, but a real boat! Mattie wanted to be a captain of a boat someday, and I do believe if he lived and was healthy, he would have found a way for his dream to come true. One thing was for certain about Mattie, when he was motivated, he found a way to make things happen.

Childhood Cancer Facts of the Day: 15 times more children are diagnosed with cancer than with pediatric AIDS, but U.S. invests 30 times more research funds for pediatric AIDS ($600,000) than for childhood cancer ($20,000) (American Cancer Society).

As I promise, I wanted to share some exciting news with you. Thanks to our connections with the Children's Cause for Cancer Advocacy (CCCA) organization and our wonderful lobbying team at Mercury, LLC, Mattie Miracle was able to insert some psychosocial language into the re-introduced survivorship bill. This is wonderful news for both CCCA and Mattie Miracle, but mostly for children and their families battling cancer. This evening, our board member Tamra, represented Peter and I at a reception on Capitol Hill. At the reception, Tamra told me Mattie Miracle was acknowledged for our participation in the creation of this bill. Below you will see a picture of Tamra with Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) and find more information about the bill which was introduced by Rep. Speier today.


Speier Reintroduces Legislation to Improve Treatment of Childhood Cancer Survivors 

Today, Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) will introduce the bipartisan Pediatric, Adolescent, and Young Adult Cancer Survivorship Research and Quality of Life Act of 2011, with Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX) as the lead Republican sponsor. The bill includes the creation of a Workforce Collaborative on Medical and Psychosocial Care for Childhood Cancer Survivors, which would convene a cross-specialty, multidisciplinary group of educators, consumer and family advocates and providers of psychosocial and biomedical health services. This is a significant win as it continues to shine a light on psychosocial education and treatment and begins to make a real difference for children and their families. In addition, the legislation authorizes $10 million a year for grants to entities to establish and operate clinics for “comprehensive long-term follow-up services” for pediatric cancer survivors. Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation successfully inserted language into the bill to make entities integrating medical and psychosocial services eligible for these grants. Mattie Miracle worked closely with Children’s Cause for Cancer Advocacy and Rep. Speier’s staff on the final language of the bill. To read more about this bill, click below:

http://speier.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=470:speier-reintroduces-legislation-to-improve-treatment-of-childhood-cancer-survivors&catid=1:press-releases&Itemid=14

My parents and I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the second Getty Museum in Los Angeles. This museum is known as the Getty Villa and is located in Malibu, with views of the Pacific Ocean. When I lived in California, I had many opportunities to visit this incredible museum. I always felt as if stepping onto this property, was like taking a journey back in time to Italy. However, the museum closed for many years for renovations, and just recently opened back up. It took me a while to appreciate the new and improved space. I loved how in the past it was cozy, smaller, and intimate. It felt as if we were entering someone's home. With the renovation, the villa was created to be grand and recreate what a roman villa looked like in the 1700s. However, in true Getty fashion, this museum is FREE to the public, and just like the Getty Center (which I visited on Tuesday), the use of outdoor space and water are memorable and extremely peaceful. Visiting a Getty museum is not only like taking a step back in time, but it is almost a spiritual experience. He provided the space to unwind and simply soak in beauty without feeling rushed, hurried, or frenzied.

Getty felt that art had to be shared and when you visit one of his museums, you have to admire his generosity. It is a sad commentary that Getty never saw his finished creation, the villa. It was built in 1974, however, Getty was living in London at the time, and was deathly afraid of air travel by that point (a man I can relate to!). So despite funding this villa and being instrumental in its creation, he never got to see this beautiful structure for himself. Do note however, that he chose to be buried on the museum's campus.

The Getty Villa is modeled after a first-century Roman country house, the Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum, Italy. The J. Paul Getty Museum building was constructed in the early 1970s by the architectural firm of Langdon and Wilson. Architectural consultant Norman Neuerburg worked closely with J. Paul Getty to develop the interior and exterior details (Getty paid for the architect to fly back and forth from LA to London, since Getty wouldn't fly to LA).The Villa dei Papiri was buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79, and much of it remains unexcavated. Therefore, Neuerburg based many of the Museum's architectural and landscaping details on elements from other ancient Roman houses in the towns of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stabiae—from bronze lanterns like those carried along the streets of Pompeii to herbs and shrubs grown by the Romans for food and ceremony. Boston-based architects Rodolfo Machado and Jorge Silvetti began renovating the Getty Villa site in 1997.

It was fascinating to see all these staircases at the museum. In fact, you had to take steps down to enter the villa. Why? Because these clever architects wanted the public to feel as if we were entering an archaeological dig. Just like the way the actual Villa Papiri was discovered. If you look at the steps, notice the backdrop. The walls are striated and have various textures, to mimic the type of sediment one would see while digging out layer after layer of earth to uncover the buried villa. To me this recreation was SO effective! So as you enter this museum, you immediately feel you are walking back in time, through something that has been excavated for our pleasure.
When you enter the museum, you are in the atrium. The atrium was the main public room in a roman house. The ceiling compluvium, open to light and air, allowed rainwater to fall into the impluvium (pool in the center of the room) where it was channeled to an underground cistern. In the atrium business took place, greeting of guests occurred here, and in addition, god like statues were placed around the room for family members to worship them in this space.

The gardens at the museum are spectacular. They are designed to bring about rest and relaxation. Within these spaces NO work was conducted. This space is entitled....the Outer Peristyle.The Museum's south doors open onto the Outer Peristyle, the largest garden at the Getty Villa. It is adorned with hedge-lined pathways and circular stone benches. Plants favored by the ancient Romans, such as bay laurel, boxwood, myrtle, ivy, and oleander, are planted around a spectacular 220-foot-long reflecting pool (in the real villa this pool was six feet deep, here it is 18 inches deep). Bronze sculptures, replicas of statues found at the Villa dei Papiri, are placed in their ancient findspots. A peristyle, or covered walkway, surrounds the formal garden and leads visitors past illusionistic wall paintings to spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean.

Herb Garden
Outside the Museum entrance lies the Herb Garden, a mosaic of fruit trees (plum, fig, pomegrante, lemon, apricot, peach, etc) and fragrant and colorful annuals and perennials used by the ancient Romans in cooking, ceremony, and medicine.






East GardenBeyond the East stair in the Museum lies the East Garden, one of the most tranquil spaces at the Villa. This walled sanctuary is shaded by sycamore and laurel trees and animated by splashing water from two sculptural fountains. Theatrical masks adorn the mosaic-and-shell fountain on the east wall, while sculpted bronze civet heads spout playful streams from the fountain at the center of the space.











We saw several exhibits. This one intrigued me. It was entitled, Molten Color: Glassmaking in Antiquity. I am a glass collector, so learning about the glass making process and seeing these ancient works were extraordinary.
Over 180 ancient glass objects from the collection of Erwin Oppenländer are featured in this exhibition.The Oppenländer collection, which the Getty acquired in 2003, is remarkable for its cultural and chronological breadth. It includes works made in Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Greek world, and the Roman Empire, and spans the entire period of ancient glass production, from its origins in Mesopotamia in about 2500 B.C. to Byzantine and Islamic glass of the eleventh century A.D. Also notable in the Oppenländer collection is the variety of ancient glassmaking techniques, such as casting, core forming, mosaic, inflation, mold blowing, cameo carving, incising, and cutting. All these techniques are still used by glass artists today.

After our trip to the museum, we had lunch along the water at a restaurant I visited many times when I was in high school. It is a Malibu institution called Gladstones.
Here was my view while having lunch. I am a water and beach person and I find it very therapeutic. Today we were visited by pelicans (flying above in the picture), seagulls, piping plovers (another favorite of mine), and cormorants.
At lunch we couldn't finish what we were eating. So I asked the waiter to give me a box to put it in. Instead of a box, he came with foil, and began creating a whale with mermaid on it right before my eyes!

September 22, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2008. Mattie was home from the hospital between treatments and had his good buddy Campbell over to visit. As you can see, Mattie and Campbell began transforming the floor in Mattie's bedroom that afternoon. The trains were all set up and the stuffed animal dogs were important visitors on the track. Mattie and Campbell could play with each other for hours because they fed off of each other's creativity. Though I do not have a train running through Mattie's room now, many of the things you see in this picture are still set up just as Mattie left them. To me, our second bedroom will always be Mattie's room. If this room could talk, it would have many stories to tell. Stories of Mattie as a baby, Mattie learning to sleep, Mattie transitioning from a crib to a bed, and of course Mattie battling cancer. During Mattie's battle, whenever he was home from the hospital, he would sleep in his bed, and I would sleep on the floor (on the oval floral rug you see in this picture) because with his IV's he always needed to be carefully monitored. I can't look at this rug some days without remembering all our nights together as we battled cancer at home.


Childhood Cancer Facts of the Day: Only 3% of National Cancer Institute's $4.8 billion cancer research budget went to childhood cancer (NCI 2008 budget report).

Peter flew to San Diego tonight and arrived there safely. Peter has an all day business meeting on Thursday. However, on Thursday night he will be driving up from San Diego to spend the next four days with us in Los Angeles. Peter needs a change of pace and a break, and hopefully this different scenery will help.

My parents had a meeting this morning, so I had a slow start to the day. I was able to finish a book I have been reading for quite some time. Which was a good feeling and then I decided to sit outside for a bit in my parents backyard. It was lovely to just be peaceful and quiet for a while and read the second book I brought with me. Quiet time is needed no matter your age, because it gives you time to just be calm and do whatever it is that will re-energize you. For me, being outdoors and surrounded by greenery makes me happier.

The thought of it becoming Fall is not appealing to me at all. My friend Tina sent me a picture by email of the trees turning in her neighborhood. She is trying to prepare me for the season change. As I told her, I would be thrilled if it was summer weather all year long. Despite my distaste for Fall, I can certainly appreciate the beauty of the colors that only mother nature can produce.


As my readers know, September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. As such, Congress hosts an annual childhood cancer caucus. This year's caucus will be held on September 23. I would like my readers to be aware of this event and to visit the link below. On the caucus website you will notice that HR 262 is mentioned. As a reminder HR 262 is the Resolution the Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation worked on with Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX). The resolution supports efforts to raise awareness, improve education, and encourage research and treatment of the psychosocial needs of children diagnosed with a childhood cancer. In addition, on the website you will see a link to a Childhood Cancer Hill Reception on September 22. Mattie Miracle is proud to be one of the sponsors of this event, an event that is hosted by the Children's Cause for Cancer Advocacy (an effective childhood cancer advocacy organization that has been very inclusive of our Foundation). To learn more about the caucus, please visit: http://childhoodcancer-mccaul.house.gov/

September 21, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011 -- Mattie died 106 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2008. Mattie was home from the hospital and his closest preschool buddy, Zachary came over to visit. Zachary was into Indiana Jones at the time, and wanted to introduce the character to Mattie. Zachary brought Mattie an Indiana Jones hat, and as you can see Mattie put it right on. I had both boys pose for me that day and to me this captures their friendship quite well. These boys were inseparable, full of adventure, and loyal to each other. To this day, I still have the Indiana Jones hat and it remains in the living room, just where Mattie left it.

Childhood Cancer Fact of the Day: Pharmaceutical companies fund over 50% of adult cancer research, but virtually nothing for children (American Association of Cancer Research)

After our walking routine this morning, and of course seeing deer, we then visited the Getty Center Museum. This museum opened up 14 years ago, but I have never had the opportunity to visit it. Keep in mind as you read about my experience below, that this museum is FREE to the public. I believe that the Getty family left Los Angeles a very special gift, because I have been to museums all over the world, but today's visit captured me. The use of light, outdoor space, water, and greenery were captivating! We literally saw four exhibits and because the gallery space is small and intimate, exhibits are easy to walk through and enjoy.

A picture of my mom and I in front of the Getty Center! The Center is built from travertine stone, which came from Rome, Italy. These stones range in age from 8000 to 80,000 years old.
On the south side of the museum, there is a very realistic re-creation of a desert landscape. The cactus were incredible, and because the museum is situated high on the hill, you can also get amazing vistas of Los Angeles.
Fountains are an integral part of the museum grounds. They are everywhere! In the museum courtyard a 120 foot linear fountain is featured. My mom was standing in front of this fountain. The tranquil and peaceful sounds of water were beautifully integrated into this incredible space. The architect of this museum (Richard Meier) was very cognizant of "elevating people out of their day to day experience." This is immensely evident as soon as you arrive at the museum. After you park your car at the base of the mountain, you then have to board an electric tram which transports you 3/4 of a mile uphill. A very unique experience, and one that helps you get into the mood of being transported to a unique and beautiful place.

My mom took a picture of me in the sculpture gardens. I am standing next to Alexander Calder's "Spiny top, Curly bottom" sculpture. I am a Calder fan, which is why she captured me near this red cutie.
Exhibit entitled...In focus: The sky. With its immensity, immateriality, and variability, the sky has been an enduring subject in art history, fascinating and challenging generations of artists. As soon as the medium of photography was introduced in 1839, photographers attempted to represent the sky and its natural phenomena. My favorite photo from this exhibit was entitled the Lost Cloud. I loved how the artist captured the isolation sometimes found within nature, but also captured within one's self. The Lost Cloud (Kertesz, 1937).........Soon after arriving in New York in October 1936, André Kertész spent time searching the city streets for fresh material, just as he had done in Paris for a decade. One afternoon he observed a solitary white cloud in a vast blue sky, dwarfed by the monolithic presence of the Rockefeller Center. Kertész later recounted that he was "very touched when he saw the cloud, as it "didn't know which way to go" (Bela Ugrin, Dialogues with Kertész, " 1978–85, the Getty Research Institute) — a sentiment he strongly identified with as a new immigrant.


Exhibit entitled, British watercolors and drawings. Durham Cathedral and Castle (Girtin, 1800)
Watercolor is regarded as one of the most challenging artistic techniques. Its liquid nature is capable of extraordinary effects of luminosity, but is often challenging for an artist to control.Thomas Girtin painted a dramatic view of a medieval cathedral and castle (a cathedral Peter and I saw on our honeymoon) from the bank of the River Wear in northeastern England. He famously used a wide palette with many more tints and subtints than other artists, visible here in the range of blues and greys of the river.


The next four paintings were part of the French Paintings exhibit at the museum. My faithful readers know I LOVE Monet, and most of the French Impressionists. So naturally I had to capture these photos today. I hope you enjoy them too.


Sunrise (Monet, 1873) The sketchy execution of works such as Sunrise shocked critics of the time, who considered them unfinished impressions rather than completed compositions. The remarkably pristine condition of Sunrise preserves the movement of Monet's brush as it captured the effect of morning light, diffused by fog shimmering on the water.
Irises (van Gogh, 1889) van Gogh painted irises in the garden of the asylum where he was recuperating from a severe attack of mental illness. Although he considered it more a study than a finished picture, it was exhibited at the Salon des Independants in 1889. Irises exemplifies van Gogh's practice of working directly from life. Its energy and theme - the regenerative powers of the earth - express the artist's deeply personal belief in the divinity of art and nature.

The Portal of Rouen Cathedral in Morning Light (Monet, 1894) Monet turned away from his landscape subjects and painted thirty views of the Cathedral with a methodical intensity that was unparalleled in his career. For Monet, the gothic monument was less important as a religious symbol than as a permanent, richly textured surface on which light and atmosphere could play with infinite and colorful variation.
Wheatstacks, Snow Effect, Morning (Monet, 1891) Wheatstacks was the first of Monet's series paintings. He painted 30 variations of this motif. This picture reveals his singular ability to model form and capture light exclusively through strokes and dabs of color.
The gardens and landscaping at the Getty Center provide a counterpoint of color and texture to the complex of buildings. Most notable is the Central Garden. The garden was created by the artist Robert Irwin, who has called it a "sculpture in the form of a garden aspiring to be art." In the center of this amazing garden is a maze comprised of 400 azalea plants.
An absolutely enchanting garden!!!! Visiting The Getty Center is an unique treat. I have never been to a museum that even comes close to it. The outside of the museum is just as aesthetically pleasing and captivating as the art found within the buildings.
From a distance these look like flowering trees. As you get closer to them, you realize these are bougainvillea vines that have been trained to grow up through this metal tree like structure.

Today marks another Tuesday, or 106 weeks Mattie has been gone from our lives. Time marches on, but the grief remains. In honor of each Tuesday, Mattie's oncologist, Kristen always writes to us. She is a very special physician and human being, and we are honored to have her as a friend. Kristen sent me this very informative and fascinating video clip. The clip is short and discusses a MAJOR problem in the US. More than 180 critical drugs are in short supply across the United States. Even drugs to treat adult cancers. Imagine having cancer and being unable to get treatment because the drug isn't being manufactured!!!! Dealing with cancer is stressful enough for patients and families, but hearing this news is simply unacceptable! To listen to the interview, click on this link: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/health/july-dec11/drugshortage_08-29.html

I would like to end tonight's posting with a message from Mattie's oncologist and our friend, Kristen. Kristen wrote, "I hope you are both doing well. Vicki, I hope you are finding relief from your headaches while out in California although it didn't seem the case from the blog.   wanted to also let you know that there have actually been four approvals for childhood cancer indications. One, as you mentioned is clofarabine, the others are imatinib (also known as Gleevec) for chronic myelogenous leukemia, nelarabine for T-cell leukemia/lymphoma, and everolimus for a very rare tumor in children associated with tuberous sclerosis called subependymal giant cell tumors (SEGA) just approved October 2010. However, as you note, the vast majority of the drugs used to cure pediatric cancers were never approved for use in children and are actually very old drugs. More worrisome, as we are hearing on the nightly news, some of those drugs are in shortage...both adults and pediatric patients depend on these drugs for their therapy. Thank you for reminding all of us of the facts of Pediatric Cancer this September! Thinking of you both, this Tuesday and every day."

September 20, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2008. Peter's parents gave Mattie this large puzzle made out of foam pieces. Mattie loved it and once he assembled it, he sat right on top of it. I still recall telling Mattie that he was sitting on top of the world. This is another favorite picture of mine because despite Mattie's cancer, pain, and how awful he was feeling, he still had a magnificent smile that could light up any room.


Childhood Cancer Fact of the Day: Most drugs for childhood cancer treatments are over 20 years old; only one new drug (Clofarabine) has been FDA approved in the last decade (MD Anderson Cancer Center).

I began my day with a wonderful email that I received from my friend, Charlie. She sent me a video called the Boatlift, An Untold Tale of 9/11 Resilience. I copied the video link below so you could see it for yourself. It is a day that none of us should ever forget, but what captured me about the video is how inspiring everyday people can be. This video captures the ordinary doing extraordinary things! I think you will agree after seeing this, that these boat captains should be considered 9/11 heroes. I was deeply moved by this video and cried throughout it because when I hear and see people treating others with kindness and compassion, it touches my heart. Like the New York City community came together during a horrific crisis, in my own world, Mattie's community did the same for Peter and I. I saw people who did not know each other or even have anything in common unite forces to help Mattie battling cancer. Watching people come together, work together, put aside their differences, and truly do the right thing is a force I have been lucky enough to experience. Though Mattie's battle is long past us, the feeling and love we received from Team Mattie will forever remain inside of me. I forget nothing, as I imagine neither do the men, women, and children rescued by boats on 9/11.

The BOATLIFT
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18lsxFcDrjo

Though I am in Los Angeles, I am have been very connected to Washington, DC! Thank goodness for my trusty Blackberry, because thanks to it I can be away and not skip a beat. On Thursday, I will have exciting news to share with you regarding the Foundation. So stay tuned! Not to disappoint my readers, guess what I saw today?!!! Yes many more LA Cappuccinos! I literally saw over 10 deer, but I did not have my camera with me. At one point a baby deer was in the middle of the road, and out of no where, its mom jumped in the road to stop traffic and move her baby along. An absolutely precious sight!

I went out to lunch with my parents. We went back to the restaurant in the hills that I described last week. While my dad was talking to me, out of the corner of my eye I saw something I am NOT accustomed to seeing. It was a coyote! So I grabbed my camera and tried to photograph him. My parents live in the hills, yet they are very close to the city. Which is what makes seeing all this wildlife so fascinating!

My mom and I had a very active day. We began by doing our walking routine and then later in the afternoon I joined her two hour line dancing class. Her class is unlike any sort of line dancing I have ever done. Most of the people in her class are long term students and they know many of the dances. Therefore, the teacher leads but isn't teaching. So today I was tossed into a class, that was going a mile a minute, not knowing any of the steps. Most new comers would have given up after a few minutes, because it was frustrating and at times humiliating. But I continued at it. Typically I can learn dance routines rather quickly, but there was something about these routines which confused me to no end. It was like my brain wasn't functioning tonight, and everything I was seeing was an absolute jumble. I couldn't concentrate and this wasn't helping my migraine headache. I had a greater sympathy for those with learning and processing disorders, because this evening, I truly felt I was developing one. One in which I never had before. There are MANY side effects from surviving Mattie's cancer and concentration is definitely one of them. I used to be the kind of person who could read anywhere, I could read with noise all around me, and people talking to me at the same time. I can no longer do that. In fact, unless I am in absolute quiet, I can't read. I can technically read the words, but they don't make sense to me unless I really concentrate.

At the end of the day, as we were driving home, we saw a beautiful LA Sunset. It almost looked like the sky was a glow.

September 18, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2008 in the main hallway of Georgetown University Hospital. As you can see Mattie went around the Hospital collecting all sorts of boxes to create with. I almost forgot about this, until I came across this picture last week. Naturally after Mattie's surgeries his mobility was greatly limited, but by that time, Mattie had a whole hospital brigade programmed to look for and save boxes for him. When I enter the Hospital now for meetings or return visits, walking down this main hallway always is challenging and most likely always will be for me. Because in my mind I can picture Mattie and I together, I can hear his voice, his cries, and his worries. For you see, we passed through this hallway each time he entered the Hospital for an admission. During most admissions, he was physically ill, exhausted, and wanted to just be a normal six year old rather than one who saw and experienced the ravages of cancer.


Childhood Cancer Fact of the Day: Over half of pediatric cancer families will file for bankruptcy (American Cancer Society).

My mom and I began our day by walking over three miles on her neighborhood track. Unlike my walking routine at home, which for the most part is a solitary experience, my mom's track has many neighbors who exercise there. Over the course of the last week, I have met some of her fellow walkers. So in a way her track is a social experience. Today, I had the opportunity to meet an older gentleman and his dog, Rusty. Rusty is part pitbull and doberman. Two breeds which I admit to stereotyping and being afraid of. However, Rusty was as I called him a "pussycat." Rusty is a good companion to this man, and this man certainly needs a companion (from my perspective), since he lost his wife to cancer. What caught my attention about this interaction, was despite the years that have lapsed since his wife has died, the story about how she was diagnosed and the battle she endured were VERY fresh and VERY real. As if this all just happened yesterday for me.

I suppose this man's story intrigued me because his feelings in a way reflect mine. The memories of battling cancer and then losing a loved one are devastating. He described the frustrations he had with his wife's doctors and in her case, her cancer metastasized and her physicians weren't even aware of this until it was too late. I can sense that this man partially blames himself for his wife's death and was told by another physician that if his wife's cancer was caught before it had spread, she may have been alive today. Though I appreciate this medical fact, such knowledge is NOT helpful to know as a grieving husband. This information just makes him feel guilty, as if he could have done more, and he could have done a better job. This is a physician who needs sensitivity training! Believe it or not, this man got so mad at this doctor, that the doctor called the police on him and told the police that the man was a threat to him. Unbelievable! This man couldn't hurt a fly, and if you saw him physically you would completely understand my assessment. Seems to me this doctor needs Grief 101, so that he can be enlightened to the simple fact that anger is a part of grief. The doctor should have realized he was the recipient of this man's emotional loss, and perhaps if he had listened to him rather than called the police, a better resolution to this man's grief process would have occurred. When a helping professional loses sight of the importance of connecting with patients and treating them like human beings, then from my perspective, this professional is no longer useful or effective.

After our walk, as we were driving back home, I spotted more deer. Today's sighting involved a buck, with his beautiful antlers. I did not have my camera with me, but took the photo with my phone. You can see the buck if you look closely.
My parents and I went for a drive today. On the way out of their neighborhood, again I saw deer! This has to be deer season, because I have never seen so many each day on any of my previous visits. Either that, or Mattie is sending me a profound message.
I have come to the conclusion that the deer own these hills, and the residents living in houses are their guests. Check out this deer on the front lawn next to some one's house! I just love the ears on these deer.
When we went out to lunch today we received these cartoon like napkins. They are silly, but none the less made me laugh... 1) What do you call a fish with no eyes?...... FSH! 2) What lies at the bottom of the sea and shakes?...... A nervous wreck! and 3) Where do fish go to borrow money?....... The loan shark!
After lunch we walked around, and we noticed a beautiful fountain. We went over to check it out and swimming inside the fountain were these glorious turtles. Another sighting Mattie would have most appreciated.