Mattie Miracle 8th Annual Walk & Family Festival was an $88,000 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

Random Shots of Mattie, Family and Friends

June 5, 2012

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 -- Mattie died 143 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2007 at Dutch Wonderland. Peter and I took Mattie to this theme park over Memorial Day weekend. It was an adventure for all of us. At the park, Mattie met Duke, one of the park's mascots. When I was Mattie's age I was scared out of my mind with any type of life sized character. If Duke had come up to me when I was Mattie's age I would have been screaming and running the other way. Not Mattie, he grabbed Duke's hand and posed for a picture! It was also at Dutch Wonderland that Mattie fell in love with roller coasters!

Quote of the day: What happens to a person is less significant than what happens within him. ~ Louis L. Mann

Though I appreciate tonight's quote, I would have to say that sometimes what happens "to a person" greatly influences what happens therefore "within" a person. I received a text message today from my friend Ann who noted that for the past two years I have and continue to battle all sorts of illnesses. That my health has not been the best. I suppose that notion could upset me or even perplex me, but it does not. It does not because thankfully all my years of counseling family caregivers and being very familiar with the research literature has paid off. As I joked with Ann today, I am now the classic case study that I used to read about.

There is a great deal of caregiver research out there that discusses how the stresses of managing this role can impact one's health and immunity. When I refer to a caregiver, I mean a person who is not paid for caring for the physical, financial, emotional, and psychological needs of an ill or impaired family member or friend. Chronic and long term caregiving is very debilitating, and though my caregiving of Mattie was only 14 months (the average caregiving stint is usually 5 or more years), it was a very intense form of providing care. Care that impacted my sleep (if I got any), when and if I could eat, and my mental sanity. It is hard to describe the way of life Peter and I led, unless you have lived for some time in a hospital setting. If you think you get rest and peace in a hospital room, I assure you, that you don't! People are coming in and out of your room 24 hours a day, there is NO privacy, and the noises within a unit can be terrifying at times. I remember hearing children on the floor dying in the rooms next to me, and the crying and wailing of families were deafening. Some nights I had to put a pillow over my head to drown out the noises!

The horrors of cancer maybe physically over for us, but the emotional wounds of childhood cancer remain within us always. One of my favorite studies that I recall was done by a team of researchers in Ohio. The Glasers compared the healing time of medical residents versus that of family caregivers. Both groups are perceived as living with HIGH stress levels. The Glasers gave participants of the study a minor puncture wound on their arms, and then assessed which group would heal faster. The thinking being that stress prevents rapid cell regeneration and repair. It turns out that family caregivers healed much slower than the medical residents and this was the first study of its kind to show the significance of family caregiver stress and the correlation between caregiver stress and direct physical health.

Recently I read an article entitled, "A loss like no other" in Counseling Today (which is a monthly publication by the American Counseling Association). The article caught my attention because I have found so many, even within my own profession, who do not understand grief. However, this article resonated with me because it made it clear that loss is universal, but every individual's grief process and experience are unique. In fact the article went on to say that "society often emphasizes getting over things and moving on, but in many situations of loss, the process of getting over it doesn't happen quickly, if ever. Grief is an ongoing process of adaptation. The idea of closure is no longer seen as being possible for most people. Rather it's, 'how do I adapt or integrate this loss into who I am and into everyday life.'"

I particularly appreciated learning about the "dual-process" model of loss, which looks at both loss-oriented stressors, which deal with thoughts and feelings related directly to the loss, and restoration oriented stressors, which refer in part to the life roles that have been changed after the loss." In fact, making meaning out of loss is quite complex. For we lost Mattie, but we also lost our parental identity, and our expectations for the future in this role.

I am feeling a bit better today, but still not myself. I have a full day tomorrow of meetings, so it is my hope I can pull it together to manage through the day.

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