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

January 11, 2013

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday, January 11, 2013

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2007. One night we went for a walk to see the National Christmas Tree in front of the White House. It was an absolutely frigid evening and the big surprise for us was the wonderful yule log by the Tree. It was the most magnificent fire to feel in the bitter cold. Though Peter and I had lived in DC for many years before having Mattie, we never walked to see the National Tree. Peter and I experienced and saw many wonderful things when Mattie was in our lives. It was as if he was our excuse to go on an adventure! Seeing this photo takes me back in time to reflect on this lovely holiday memory.


Quote of the day: If there is one spot of sun spilling onto the floor, a cat will find it and soak it up. ~ J.A. McIntosh


Today was a busy day that began with my monthly licensure board meeting. During many of these meetings, my board is faced with making many challenging decisions. Decisions that can alter a professional's livelihood. Revoking a license or sanctioning a professional are not fun tasks. Which is why today was more of a feel good day. We were able to give a professional a second chance at obtaining her license, and as she left our board meeting, I told her we were giving her back control of her own destiny. So in essence she understood what I was telling her, which was study and pass your exam. Do not screw up this opportunity because it may not happen again.

Later in the day, I went to visit my friend Mary who lives in an assisted living facility. I haven't seen Mary for weeks. When I walked into Mary's room and she saw me, I received a huge smile. Though Mary was mostly mute, she did let me know that she feels I am special and was so happy to see me. I chatted with her about all sorts of things, you would be amazed at my skills at one way conversation. I read her hometown paper to her and then in front of her eyes I planted an amaryllis plant. Someone gave Mary an amaryllis bulb for Christmas and I thought I might as well plant it for her so she could experience the glory of this beautiful red flower. I know living in an institution is hard and any sign of life is so appreciated. Or at least this is how I felt when Mattie was battling cancer in the hospital.

One of Mary's aides came into the room this evening. I happen to like this aide. The aide came over to greet Mary and asked her if she was happy to see me. The funny part is Mary wouldn't take her eyes off of me to look at the aide. So the aide started joking around with Mary. She told Mary that she could understand why she chose not to look in her direction, after all Mary can see this aide everyday, but she can't see me everyday. It was the way the aide said this that made it truly funny. Mary got the subtly of what the aide was saying and started to smile and laugh. A priceless sight!

As for our Patches, she had a rough night. She was up a lot and also vomiting, so Peter and I feel like the walking wounded today. We are hoping tonight she has a better night. 

January 10, 2013

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Tonight's picture was taken in January of 2008. Peter and I took Mattie to Leesylvania State Park in Virginia. We spent many weekends together venturing from one nature trail to another. If you look closely, you will see that Mattie was holding a huge stick. Mattie loved his collections, and we had quite a stick collection at one time in our commons space. I am not sure who appreciated that stick pile more.... Mattie or our resident Jack Russell Terrier, JJ. Mattie and JJ basically grew up together and they got along splendidly. It was like having a dog in our lives without having all the responsibility for his care.


Quote of the day: There are few things in life more heartwarming than to be welcomed by a cat. ~ Tay Hohoff


Patches continues to hold her own. Thankfully! She is on pain medication but is still responsive to us, walks around occasionally, and is eating some. So we are appreciative of this time together and I am glad I followed my instinct that she wasn't ready to be put to sleep.

This afternoon I met up with my friend and first college roommate, Leslie. I was Leslie's maid of honor at her wedding and we have kept connected over the years. It is not unusual for people to lose track of each other over time, but that did not happen with us. Leslie and I were close to so many people in college, we had common friends, and yet over the years, one by one many of them drifted away.

Leslie and I chatted for hours, about all sorts of things, and I ate up a storm. Some days I have an appetite and other days I don't. But without feeling pressured for time, we simply escaped in conversation. Leslie's daughter is 12, and Faye has been involved in a community service learning project with Mattie Miracle as her Bat Mitzvah project. Peter and I are honored that Faye chose to work with us. In November, we met up with Leslie and Faye in Maryland. Faye collected LOTS of candy for our Candy Drive for the Hospital. She not only collected it, but also sorted it for me. Today Leslie and I were reflecting on that November meeting. That day while we were transferring candy and chatting, we noticed a penny on the ground. I pointed it out to Peter, who picked it up in honor of Mattie. As my faithful readers know, Mattie began collecting pennies when my parents introduced him to the "penny fairy." I truly believe Mattie thought there was a real penny fairy who followed him around and left pennies for him. Now with Mattie gone from our world, pennies bring a smile to our faces. Whenever Peter and I find a penny, we think about Mattie and we would like to think that this is Mattie's way of sending us a sign.

Anycase, Leslie asked me today whether I heard the penny fall on the ground that day. She did not mention it to me at the time, but this whole penny scenario stuck with her. She distinctly remembers hearing a clink, as if the penny fell from someplace. But we were outside, there was NO place for it to fall from. It is odd, because when I got out of the car, the penny wasn't on the ground, but by the time we transferred the candy, there it was. As if Mattie was overseeing the process and dropped a penny in our wake. Naturally from a pure logical standpoint I could say we must have missed seeing this penny at first and it probably was there in front of us the whole time. But after the loss of Mattie, I am open to other possibilities. Or at least I am accepting of them because it helps me feel connected to Mattie in some way. Either case, I appreciated Leslie's story and reflection a great deal. Leslie is a former biology teacher, a scientist who approaches the world rationally. But she had no explanation for the penny, other than we may have been in the presence of Mattie! I am sticking with that version!

My friend Charlie sent me the five myths below today about grief, which I VERY much appreciated. There are three things about grief that drive me crazy! When someone implies I have to "get over it," that there is a time limit to grief, and that with time grief disappears. ALL MYTHS! I know this but nonetheless it is still very hurtful when people treat me like I have a problem, rather than understanding the complexities and lasting impact of the loss of a child.   

How to Grieve: 5 Myths That Hurt

By Paula Spencer Scott, Caring.com senior editor

Grief is a natural response to loss, and it can unfold in many ways. Unfortunately, well-intentioned onlookers -- dubbed "grief police" by grief expert Robert Neimeyer, professor of psychology at the University of Memphis -- often say things that mistakenly imply to the bereaved that there's a "right" way to grieve.
 
Consider these all-too-common grief myths:
 
Myth #1: It's possible to cry too much.
Everyone grieves differently. There's no single correct way to express the pain, sorrow, yearning, and other aspects of the transition of adjusting to the death of a loved one. Intense responses are sometimes seen as "losing control," when in fact they're simply how that person is actively (and productively) processing the loss.
 
Myth #2: If you don't cry now, it'll be worse later.
Some people never cry. Tears or outward expressions of anguish simply aren't everyone's grieving style, says psychologist Neimeyer. This doesn't mean they're grieving less intensely than a visibly shaken individual, or that they loved the person who died any less. Nor does a lack of obvious emotion mean the griever has an emotional block or problem or will face a longer, more difficult adjustment to the loss.
 
Myth #3: Grief is something you "get over."
Most people never stop grieving a death; they learn to live with it. Grief is a response, not a straight line with an endpoint. Many psychologists bristle at words such as "acceptance" or "resolution" or "healed" as a final stage of grief. The real stages of grief involve tasks of processing and adjustment that one returns to all through life.
 
Myth #4: Time heals slowly but steadily.
Time is the commodity through which a grieving person sorts through the effects and meaning of a loss. But that process isn't a steady fade-out, like a photograph left in the sun. Grief is a chaotic roller coaster -- a mix of ups, downs, steady straight lines, and the occasional slam. Periods of intense sadness and pain can flare and fade for years or decades.
 
Myth #5: Grieving should end after a set amount of time.
Ignore oft-quoted rules of thumb that purport to predict how long certain types of grief should last. A downside to six-week or eight-week bereavement groups, says Sherry E. Showalter, a psychotherapist specializing in grief and the author of Healing Heartaches: Stories of Loss and Life, is that at the end of the sessions, people mistakenly expect to be "better" (or their friends expect this). "Everyone tells me the same story: 'I failed Grief 101,' because they still feel pain," Showalter says. "We grieve for a lifetime, because we're forever working to incorporate the death into our own tapestry of life."
 
Learning how to grieve is ultimately part instinct, part stumbling along, part slogging along -- a bit like learning how to live.

January 9, 2013

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wednesday, January 9, 2013
 
Tonight's picture was taken in January of 2009. Mattie was home between treatments and as you can see he was sitting on our couch eating an ice cream cone (ice cream was one of his foods of choice). However in addition to enjoying ice cream Mattie was surrounded by gifts he received that day which included a blue pillow and military patches. Team Mattie was incredible for many reasons. They met each and every demand and need we had, and they kept gifts, prizes, and all sorts of surprises coming our way throughout Mattie's battle. These items perked Mattie up in incredible ways and the joy of opening up care packages were greatly appreciated by Peter and I. Despite how horrific a day was in the hospital, opening up a gift had a way of changing Mattie's mood, even if it was temporary. This temporary relief and diversions kept us sane! 
 
Quote of the day: If purring could be encapsulated, it'd be the most powerful anti-depressant on the pharmaceutical market. ~ Alexis F. Hope
 
 
Patches has always been nocturnal, but it seems to be getting worse. By 2am the past two nights she seems to be up and howling all over the place. We haven't gotten much sleep the past two nights. When I woke up this morning, she greeted me on the staircase and as the day wore on, she jumped onto her perch and as you can see made herself quite comfortable. As a person who works from home, she is my day time companion! She is my roommate, work colleague, and friend.
I think Patches' diagnosis hasn't been a good way to start off 2013. Somehow this has caused a cascade of feelings for me and sometimes the feelings make me question what the point of life is? An existential question people have been asking for centuries, and yet after the death of a child, it throws off everything that makes sense to the human race. It is easy to get depressed and yet much harder to feel positive and engaged with the rest of the world. I try to interact with others but at the end of the day, I feel the profound differences between myself and others. Or at least my perceived differences.
 
 
When I returned home from Los Angeles, Peter surprised me with an Amaryllis plant. I have never grown one, but as you can see it is quite beautiful and brings cheer to our grey and cold days! I would like to end tonight's posting with a message from my mom about our wise Patches. What I always loved about Patches is her intelligence. You look into her eyes and in so many ways she makes you feel like she understands you!
 
Patches -- The Wise and Wonderful Cat by Virginia R. Sardi
 
It was a nostalgic moment when I looked at the photo of Patches perched on top of Mattie's bed, gazing out of his window as was her custom after her acceptance of Mattie grew into a strong bond that made them inseparable when he was at home. If a cat can be described as a sentimentalist, and there are legions of cat lovers who would testify to that, Patches remains sentimentally attached to Mattie and has not forgotten those happy days together with him either! That is why her comfort zone in times of trouble is to be in Mattie's room doing what she loves to do best for it is a remembrance of the times she watched Mattie as he indulged his creativity in moments they so happily shared together. She is a wise and wonderful cat!

January 8, 2013

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Tuesday, January 8, 2013 -- Mattie died 174 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in January of 2009. We took Mattie to New York to begin his experimental treatment at Sloan Kettering. The day before treatment began we took Mattie on a tour of New York City. Mattie enjoyed the harbor cruise and seeing the Statue of Liberty. Peter and I did not know if we were coming or going on that trip and we definitely did not feel comfortable with Sloan Kettering as a Hospital. However, Mattie would not have had access to this particular immunotherapy if he did not start it at Sloan. So we did what we thought needed to be done.


Quote of the day: A meow massages the heart. ~ Stuart McMillan


This week in light of Patches diagnosis my quotes will be focused on cats. As my faithful readers know, Patches was diagnosed with cancer yesterday. Peter and I dropped off Patches at the vet yesterday morning and while Patches was there, Peter and I were text messaging back and forth. Peter was upset about Patches, whereas, I was pretty numb to the whole waiting process. Not unusual for Peter and I. Peter normally feels things in a crisis before me, and then I catch up. Peter made the analogy yesterday to all the waiting for test results we did with Mattie during his cancer battle. In many respects Peter was correct, the waiting and not knowing is a killer. Though Patches is our cat and Mattie was our son, there are just too many coincidences here. The vet called me about four hours after we dropped Patches off. 

The purpose of the visit was for her to sedate Patches and take x-rays. Our greatest hope was that Patches had an infected tooth, but we knew this most likely wasn't what it was. The vet told me that Patches has a large oral tumor, but the tumor is most likely a form of bone cancer. The tumor has eaten away at the bone in her jaw and therefore this explains why her teeth are falling out. What are the chances that Patches and Mattie would both have bone cancer?

Any case I spoke to the vet about Patches prognosis and the trajectory of her life with this disease. Because this is clearly a fast growing tumor, her prognosis is poor, and therefore it makes no sense to biopsy this tissue to determine the specific diagnosis. However the vet said to me on the phone that it would be understandable if I decided to put Patches to sleep yesterday. I did not have time to talk to Peter about this but my gut instinct was to say NO! However, I told the vet that if I sense Patches is in pain or isn't functioning, I will be returning. So I left the vet's office yesterday with a bag full of pain medication and apprehension about what is to come.

Patches spent a good portion of the early morning, 2am on, howling. As I said to Peter it is hard to know how much of this is just Patches and how much of this is pain? We suspect this is Patches' usual behavior. Because I have noticed that when Patches is in pain she shuts down, NOT howling. This morning when I woke up and was making the bed, there was no sign of Patches. Typically as soon as my feet touch the ground, she comes flying up the stairs to greet me. But in the last couple of months I have noticed that her hearing has been going too. She no longer can respond to our voices. As I was heading down the stairs, she did greet me and was thrilled to see me. She wanted to be petted and wanted attention. I was very happy to see her engaged and also wanting to eat. All positive signs, and when dealing with cancer, you have to cling to the positive signs.

After Patches ate her breakfast she retreated to Mattie's room. She now likes to sit on Mattie's pillows and look out his bedroom window. Patches has spent a great deal of time in Mattie's room since his death. Mind you she rarely ever went in this room prior to Mattie's birth or while Mattie was occupying the room. When Mattie died, Patches had great anxiety and showed signs of loss in her own way. When I see her visiting Mattie's room, it always makes me pause. Now that I know they are both fighting the same sort of disease, it makes me wonder. I wonder about the connection between Mattie and Patches. One of my friends wrote to me today and she said when a pet dies, it is as if the pet "is taking one coat off and putting on another coat." She feels that in a way our animals are always with us in some form. Certainly a beautiful sentiment.
 

January 7, 2013

Monday, January 7, 2013

Monday, January 7, 2013
Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2003. Mattie and Peter were sitting in our living room playing. Mattie loved his things spread out all over the place, but he also understood that at the end of the day whatever was out had to go back to its place. Throughout his toddler years, he watched me clean up after him. But all that organizing caught on. As Mattie got older, he took responsibility for his space. I naturally always helped him, but he understood the fact that our living and dining rooms belonged to all of us. Not just his toys.

 
Quote of the day: The only escape from the miseries of life are music and cats... ~  Albert Schweitzer
 
 
I think Albert Schweitzer must have been a cat lover, given the nature of his quote. I do agree that having a pet provides one with a great deal of pleasure in life. An animal can love you unconditionally and it can provide the best of companionship. It is hard to describe these feelings to a non-pet lover. Pets are vital to our families now, maybe more so than ever before. Most likely because our families are so geographically disperse these days and therefore coming home at the end of the day to a lonely space can be daunting. An animal has a way of filling that void and filling your heart at the same time.
 
We have had our calico cat Patches for 17 years. She was an abandoned cat on the streets of DC, who found her way to our doorstep. I will share that story another night. However, we learned today that Patches has cancer, and most likely bone cancer. The cancer has impacted her teeth and two fell out because there is no bone in part of her mouth to hold the teeth. Patches right side of her face is now deformed from a tumor pressing through. When the vet told me that Patches had a type of bone cancer most likely, I practically dropped the phone. Both Patches and Mattie, how can this be possible?
 
I will explain more about Patches situation tomorrow. Peter and I are both heart broken tonight and I guess I was so much so that when I picked Patches up at the vet after her xray, I parked in a tow away zone and got an $100 parking ticket. On the ticket it said that the car was going to be towed. Fortunately I got back to the car before that happened. The ticket was given to me by the DC Department of Public Works. You just have to love DC, a city that is excellent at taking your money, and gives its residents (I DON'T mean its visitors) VERY little in return.
 
I end tonight with a message from my mom!
 
=================================================
Ode to Patches by Virginia R. Sardi
 
If we count in cat years, Patches lived many years but in human terms not long enough. The one consolation to reflect on is that because of you and Peter, Patches has had a wonderful life. She was a part of a good and happy family which helped her transition from a feral kitten to a real pet. Later on in her development, she often went outside on the patio on her own and even when you left the door opened, she never strayed. She was treated like a family member and appreciated her good fortune of finding a real home after having started out life on the mean streets of DC. She loved you both in return in her own way and will be remembered for being a loving companion to Mattie when he was healthy and got his kicks out of pulling her tail and in bad times when he was confined to his bed and she remained close at hand. From my perspective, she is a beautiful cat with a definitive and distinctive edge who can be finicky to the nth degree, try your patience with her demanding ways but nonetheless must be respected for her tenaciousness that proves she is a cat who knows her own mind! Despite her quirkiness she remained loyal and loving at all times and showed her devotion to you, Peter and Mattie in the excitement that shined in her eyes whenever she was in your company! She will be sorely missed when her time comes!
 

January 6, 2013

Sunday, January 6, 2013


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Tonight's picture was taken in February of 2004. Mattie was 22 months old and was learning the art of being a pet owner. I remember when I was a child, a little older than Mattie, I too pulled my cat's tail. However, unlike Patches, my cat scratched me. I quickly learned from that point on that chasing the cat and pulling his tail wasn't a bright idea. Patches on the other hand was far more tolerant and patient. I worked very hard at teaching Mattie about respecting Patches and over time he just got it. So much so that when Mattie's friends would come over and begin chasing Patches, Mattie would step in and educate his friends, who did not have cats, how to interact and pet her.


Quote of the day: Do something today that your future self will thank you for. ~ Unknown


Last night Peter and I went to the Kennedy Center to see the musical, White Christmas. I am so happy that I exchanged my tickets during the day for the evening performance. This was a show not to be missed. I tried to find a review of the musical, and the only one I found is below. I recommend you click on the link because they have a trailer to the show attached. I think the beauty of this show is its purity. It is a musical that relies on talent, singing, and dancing. Rather than special effects. Like the movies, musicals are going down the same route.... no story, so-so music and talent, but big on the special effects. White Christmas had amazing costumes and simple and quaint sets. There were NO bells or whistles, but guess what..... with Irving Berlin's music, a live orchestra, and strong voices, it wasn't needed. The show was a treat, it just made you feel good. Being a White Christmas movie lover, I wasn't sure how on earth they could replicate the story on stage. I was so happy to see that there were aspects similar to the movie, but the story line was slightly different. That slight difference made it work VERY well, and as an audience member you weren't sitting there comparing the performers  on stage to Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, or Vera Ellen!

The musical, unlike the movie, had a variety of Irving Berlin songs in it. Some of which I never heard of before like Falling out of Love Can Be Fun (which was absolutely adorable!!!) or How deep is the ocean. I can't quite explain it but there was a romantic, sentimental, and moving component to this musical. I cried at various points throughout the show, and I was happy to hear that the reviewer did too. The show seemed to capture the aspects of love and joy, which are crucial emotions in human nature.

http://www.broadwayreviewed.com/category/theatres/kennedy-center


Patches is holding her own. The pain medication seems to be making her less edgy. We take her to the vet bright and early tomorrow morning. Hopefully we will know more answers tomorrow. But this evening, I am anxiously awaiting Season 3 of Downton Abbey. It seems like we have waited forever for this in the US, and for my readers who are addicted to this PBS miniseries like I am, I know what you will be doing at 9pm tonight!