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

September 7, 2012

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday, September 7, 2012

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2002. Mattie was four months old and he loved to sit on the couch, propped up with pillows. Mattie had a large basket filled with all sorts of small stuffed animals. In quiet moments together, we would pull out each of these animals, and play with each one. Some made noises, others had fuzzy textures, but each one provided a different sort of stimulation and entertainment. As you can see though, Mattie was not looking at the animals in this photo, he was looking at me. Mattie kept a close eye on me pretty much all of his life.

Quote of the day: Every one can master a grief but he that has it. ~ William Shakespeare

Today I had the opportunity to go out to lunch with my friend and colleague, Denise. Some of my faithful readers know that Denise is the mom of Marisa. Marisa has run our Foundation Walk bake sale four years in a row, and is now a senior at NYU. Marisa helped me during the summer of 2009, when Mattie was home between hospital visits. By that point, I was out of energy, and my creativity with play was non-existent. Marisa got to know Mattie under very trying circumstances, nonetheless, she found a way to make it work and to connect with him.

Denise and I spoke about a whole host of things at lunch, one being the topic of grief. Denise and I met in graduate school, and now as a licensed mental health professional she works with clients dealing with all sorts of grief. Denise is a daily blog reader and her entire family supports us in so many ways. While talking to Denise, Shakespeare's quote was rolling around in my mind. Because I think one of the greatest issues people who are grieving experience is a lack of understanding and empathy from those around them. Chances are if we were a society which freely spoke about grief and loss, and accepted people for whatever stages they were in along this lifelong journey, my hunch is people wouldn't need to seek out professional therapy. But since it is rare to find these outlets to freely be one's self in grief, the need for the mental health profession will be in high demand with just the topic of loss alone.

I want to be quite clear in my definition of grief. Some people think that grief is the result of a death. However, this is NOT the case. There are all kinds of grief (a reaction to a major loss)..... and there are ALL kinds of grief, because there are different types of losses. Major losses that can produce grief are divorce, accidents, geographic relocation, bankruptcy, dissolvement of a friendship, being fired, and the list goes on. Shakespeare's quote actually makes me laugh, because he was correct..... many people think they can master grief, especially a grief that is owned by someone else. When the grief hits home, one then quickly sees it is indeed hard and, at times, impossible to master!

Before ending our lunch today, Denise used a word with me that resonates with me. It may resonate with me, because I am humanistic in heart and psychological theory, but the word was "AUTHENTIC." She wanted me to know that she feels as if Peter and I live a very authentic life, and this is evident in my writings, my interactions with people, and our work with Mattie Miracle. I appreciated her reflection, because it would be much easier to walk away from the world of cancer altogether, but we don't! Or for me to take on a job which actually pays me for my skills, thereby avoiding the world of medicine and the painful realities that impact children and their families on a daily basis. It is easy to get dejected working in my world, which is why I appreciate the distance Denise has from my world and I value hearing her perceptions and feedback.

Unlike any job I have ever done before, the work for the Foundation is far more emotionally draining and labor intensive. Mainly because it isn't only a job, the Foundation has become my new identity. An identity I haven't asked for, but one in which my life circumstances have helped to create. Nonetheless, the investment in each Foundation task reminds me of Mattie, and therefore, moving forward will always mean that cancer is very much intertwined in my life. I was telling Denise that many people in my life continue to ask me when I will be going back to teaching. The answer is I don't know, I could say never. Or never as it relates to educating people in a formal university setting. With that said, I do know that I use my educational background in different capacities now, and therefore I still consider myself an educator. To me, after Mattie's cancer battle, being in a classroom with undergraduate and graduate students is NO longer authentic, and I have to respect that. I have been approached by a counseling colleague to come to her class and lecture in November about the trauma associated with a childhood cancer diagnosis, and I had already agreed to do this. So if I can occasionally educate others within an university setting, I am open to that, but it is no longer what defines me.

I wanted to share a picture of Tim's orange tie for the day! This one Mattie would have absolutely loved because it has fish and seaweed on it. I told Tim, that one of Mattie's last requests was he wanted a fish. Naturally live animals are not allowed within the hospital. But frankly following rules when Mattie was dying wasn't high on my priority list. So my parents helped me purchase a beautiful red betta fish for Mattie, which Mattie named "Red." Frankly because I did not report about Red on the blog (in fear someone would come and snatch Red out of Mattie's room), I forgot the official name that Mattie gave the fish (if anyone remembers, I would appreciate you telling me!). What you should know was that this fish died several hours before Mattie. To me this fish served as a premonition of what was going to come on September 8, 2009.

I have been emailing back and forth Debbi, Mattie's sedation nurse angel. In her writings, she told me she went back within the blog to reflect on the past couple of Mattie anniversaries. The beauty of the blog is all postings starting back from July of 2008 are still available on this site. So today I paused and went back to the first anniversary of Mattie's death. I included a link below if you are interested in reading about this day. The one thing that jumped out at me immediately was the large presence of our support network. As we move further away from Mattie's death, though the pain is still very real for us, the reality is this is not on the forefront of everyone else's mind as it once was. Which brings me full circle back to the definition of grief. The dwindling of our support network is certainly another major loss, or I should say a loss in a whole list of other major losses associated with Mattie's cancer and death.

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