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

March 23, 2013

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2006, at Butterfly World in Florida. I recently found an electronic file of photos on my computer that were taken with my mom's camera. I enjoy looking at these photos, because to me they seem brand NEW. My mom caught Mattie in motion! Mattie always loved to rub checks with me. Not  that I will ever forget this, but it is so special to see this Mattie tradition caught on film! 


Quote of the day: No amount of time can erase the memory of a good cat, and no amount of masking tape can ever totally remove her fur from your couch. ~ Leo Dworken



I love tonight's quote because it is SO true!!! Patches' memory will be forever with us and so will her fur. Peter and I used to joke with each other all the time that even when we were on vacation, we would find Patches fur either on our luggage or clothes. This photo was taken in January of 2002, three months before Mattie was born. Even if this photo did not have a date on it, I would know it was pre-Mattie, because Post-Mattie, Patches rarely spent time in Mattie's room (which was where this pouch was located!).

Peter and I had a productive morning working on Foundation items. We then visited Mattie's school campus where his memorial tree is located. We brought a ladder this time to clean up debris on the tree. Peter also suggested we remove all Christmas ornaments in order to get the tree ready for the spring and summer seasons. Today we hung 11 different types of planes on the tree in honor of Mattie's 11th birthday. It is hard to believe that this will be the fourth birthday we are acknowledging without Mattie. It doesn't get easier, in fact, a loss like this can leave a person VERY bitter, angry, and jealous. It takes a great deal of strength and humility to work through these feelings. As my friend Annie (who also lost a child to cancer) mentioned to me on Thursday, unlike our friends we have NO new pictures of our children accumulating from year to year. Instead for us, we must cling to the past.  


When we arrived by Mattie's tree, I could see the crocuses Peter planted weeks ago around the tree. They were a special and springy sighting! I am stunned that they haven't been stepped on by the children in the playground area.


Mattie's Tree is both a magical and twinkling tree. The items on the tree capture your attention and the chimes blowing in the wind almost bring about an ethereal feeling.
 
Peter and I went out to lunch today at Mattie's favorite restaurant. When we came outside after lunch, I heard a glorious musical sound. I looked up in the tree, and there was a cardinal. One of Mattie's favorite birds. I suspect Mattie liked cardinals because the males are bright RED!
 

March 22, 2013

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday, March 22, 2013

Tonight's picture was taken in March of 2007. Mattie was still in preschool back then and that afternoon after school, my parents and I took Mattie out to lunch. The irony is that now we know the executive chef of this particular Clyde's. We did not know her at the time, in fact we did not meet her until Mattie died. But every May at our Foundation Walk, Becca, the former executive chef of the Mark Center Clyde's (where Mattie was pictured) comes to our Walk and cooks all the food for our attendees. It is through Mattie that I have become connected to some remarkable people!


Quote of the day: Holding this soft, small living creature in my lap this way, though, and seeing how it slept with complete trust in me, I felt a warm rush in my chest. I put my hand on the cat's chest and felt his heart beating. The pulse was faint and fast, but his heart, like mine, was ticking off the time allotted to his small body with all the restless earnestness of my own. ~ Haruki Murakami



Over the years we took some magnificent photos of Patches. This one was taken in June of 2002. Patches loved her outdoor time just as much as I do. In fact, we were hoping that Patches would make it through the spring and summer so she would have one last time out on our deck. Patches enjoyed the bird traffic and the butterflies. Today is day two without our Patches and her presence is greatly missed.
 
The past two days I have spent a lot of time at home working on Foundation items. It is hard working independently and alone all the time. It is much worse now however without Patches around. I was talking with my mom today who reflected on how much Patches loved Peter. Patches, I suspect loved Peter because out of the two of us, he was the first one she encountered. One night back in February of 1996, I encouraged Peter to take some leftover steak we had outside to feed the stray cat, which I had already named Patches. I had been tracking Patches for a week, and quickly realized she was hanging around our deck and was most likely abandoned. The poor thing was screaming her head off in our common's area and frankly I was stunned no one else seemed to respond or care about her howling. I assure you she could howl, like a dog, and she wasn't quiet about it! When Peter went out to give her steak, she wanted nothing to do with him or the meat. So he went downstairs to get our mail. When Peter returned to our common's area, Patches jumped off a wall and began to charge Peter. Peter wasn't sure if she was going to attack him or what, so he braced himself. What she did however, was she ran up to him and started rubbing herself against his legs. Peter then led her to the plate with the steak on it, and he began to pet her head. From that moment, it was LOVE at first TOUCH! At that point, as if a flip was switched inside her head, she instantly trusted Peter and that trust and love lasted a lifetime.
 


Next Thursday, Peter and I are going to Bethany Beach. I usually feel the need to escape around the time of Mattie's birthday. I am not sure if I leave for myself or to protect others in my life from my feelings. For me it is always painful when Mattie's birthday isn't remembered or celebrated. As time passes, people forget, but the problem is I will never forget. As Mattie's friends are celebrating their 11th birthdays with parties, I am instead finding ways to mark this occasion on Mattie's memorial tree. I live such a different life from most of my friends and these differences are painful year round, but even more painful on special milestones and holidays. I snapped a picture of the 11 items which Peter and I will be adding to Mattie's tree this weekend in honor of Mattie's fast approaching birthday.

March 21, 2013

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2008. Mattie was home recovering from his second limb salvaging surgery. Our living room was transformed with a hospital bed in it and as you can see Nurse Patches settled in on Mattie's bed. One could say that she was there to enjoy the new bed and blankets, but knowing Patches, I realize she was there because she deemed herself part of the family and wanted to lend her support.







Quote of the day: Cats do care. For example they know instinctively what time we have to be at work in the morning and they wake us up twenty minutes before the alarm goes off. ~  Michael Nelson


It was a challenging day for both Peter and I in different ways. Peter had a morning and night time routine with Patches. Like Michael Nelson's quote points out about cats, Patches was better than any alarm clock. She always woke up minutes before Peter's alarm clock would go off. Mind you Peter's wake up time wasn't always consistent. So the question is how did she know? Peter always joked that Patches must have checked his alarm clock the night before to know when she had to rise the next day. Waking up without a Patches greeting today was unsettling for Peter and certainly there was no furry friend to greet him by the door when he returned from work.

Before Patches recently lost her hearing, she had an instinct and could hear/sense Peter climbing up the staircase in our building to get to our unit. In fact, I could always tell when Peter was coming home from work by Patches movements and her circling by our front door. In many ways I think Patches thought she was a person.

As Peter had his Patch routines, I too had my own. As soon as I woke up and my feet touched the floor in the morning, Patches would be there in a flash to greet me. She watched, almost frustrated at times, as I made the bed, and then quickly shuttled me downstairs for a snack or a treat. This has been our routine for over a decade. Since January, when she began to be noticeably sick, our routine began shifting. She became more sedentary, however despite that, she was ALWAYS watching me. This morning as I was gathering things to do laundry in our complex, there was no Patches around inspecting what was going in the laundry cart and later in the morning as I was putting laundry away, there was no Patches watching me as if I was a tennis ball in a tennis match. Patches used to watch me going up and down the stairs carrying laundry. I took it for granted, but today, I found that I missed the furry observations and commentary.

One of the highlights of my day today was receiving flowers from my friend Carolyn. Carolyn knows I love sunflowers, lilies, and butterflies. Look at that glorious purple butterfly on this arrangement! Patches actually would have loved this delivery because when the florist came to my door, he had the base of the basket in a box. As I removed the basket and placed it on the table, I put the box near Patches' perch. I did this almost out of instinct. Because a box by the perch was a sign to Patches that the box was hers! So this beautiful gift evoked Patches memories, which made me smile.


I spent the entire day at home working. I am knee deep in literature reviews for a Foundation think tank working group that I am a part of. Doing this kind of work reminds me of my days in graduate school. It is easy to get absorbed in computer searches and before you know it the day just drifts by. Later this evening, Peter and I got together with my friend Annie. I met Annie while doing advocacy work on Capitol Hill two years ago. Annie lost her daughter Eloise in May of 2010, eight months after Mattie. When I met Annie, we instantly gravitated to each other, and whenever she comes to town, we get together. Tonight, we had the opportunity to meet her husband as well and I was happy Peter got a chance to connect to another dad who lost a child to cancer. I always appreciate my chats with Annie because our perspectives are similar and we both call things as we see them. It is always comforting to me that when I experience the world a certain way and think something is off or wrong with me, that Annie can share or email with me how she is feeling. Then we quickly determine the issues don't lie with us, but they lie within the situation or fate we have been dealt. That doesn't resolve our issues, but it does make a difference to know we are not alone!
 

March 20, 2013

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

GOOD-BYE ...... "TIGER BABY PUMPKIN CABBAGE PATCH" (Peter's name for Patches)!!!

Tonight's picture was taken on April 27, 2002. Mattie was 23 days old and guess who was in and amongst us checking everything out?! PATCHES!!! As you can see, Patches was perched on the arm of our couch and did her best to lend moral support. We certainly needed a lot of it back then and we had no idea that caring for a newborn was going to be a piece of cake in comparison to battling osteosarcoma six years later.

 
SWEET PATCHES by Diane Bancroft (Our California Friend, Faithful blog reader, and Fellow Animal Lover.... THANK YOU DIANE!)


Sweet Patches from your "kitten-hood"
you were so smart and dear.
When we were ill you understood
and we would find you near.


We loved you from the start you see
adorable sweet kitty!
You came to us; twas meant to be!
You found us in this city!


Sweet nurse, friend and protector
we hate to have to part
but you will always always be
forever in our hearts!


I would like to begin tonight's posting with a BIG THANK YOU for all your supportive emails today. I have received messages from friends and faithful readers who I never even met before. Thank you for reading Mattie's blog across the Country and beyond. We received a lovely message of support today as far away as Australia! Mattie's life, his presence, and story are far reaching and it makes me smile to hear that something you are reading on this blog resonates with you and gives you pause and reason to reflect.

Over the past couple of days I have received many messages from people sharing their own loss of their beloved pets. The loss of Patches has touched you personally and evokes memories and feelings of saying good-bye to your own furry friends. Thank you for sharing these stories with me and for reliving those moments with me. As painful as they are! It is helpful to know that what Peter and I are feeling is understood and I also appreciate how so many of you realize how this loss ties into Mattie's death. Needless to say I have found the only way to survive grief is to have others walk this road with us, and I thank you once again for walking this journey as we now say good-bye to Patches. (NOTE: this was all written before 4:40pm--before Patches was put to sleep)

It is now 5:40pm, and Patches is gone from our world. Patches' vet is in Dupont Circle, and though I LOVE the vet and the people working there, I HATE the location. I get so frustrated with parking that I want to drive literally into a building and leave the car exactly where I crash it! Today Peter was driving thankfully. As some of you may recall, the last time I was at the vet in January (for Patches' diagnosis), I got an $100 parking ticket and I avoided being towed by seconds!

Peter and I drove around and around for 15 minutes today looking for parking. With each minute I was getting more and more agitated!! At which point, Peter dropped Patches and I off and continued to look for parking. Fortunately a local hotel took pity on our situation and allowed Peter to valet park right in front of the hotel. To me that was an act of mercy! There are angels amongst us.

Meanwhile, while Patches and I were inside, I processed the paperwork and bill. Though Peter and I weren't exactly on the same page about Patches remains, I made the decision for a private cremation. I want Patches ashes. To me they are important, as are Mattie's which are with me too. Naturally if I was being pragmatic, I would be saying to myself...... "Vicki you have no children, who is going to inherit these ashes?!" But as I tell people always, there is NO rationalization with grief, which is why Peter did not even skip a beat when I told him of my final decision. In the end, I know Peter wants me to do whatever I need to do to find peace. So in two weeks, Patches will be back home with us in some form. We had time to say good-bye to Patches, hug her, kiss her, and Peter even cut some of her fur to preserve. Needless to say, we are not in the best of moods or place tonight.

As so many of you shared with me, putting an animal to sleep is a VERY peaceful process. The vet administered a sedative to Patches NOT within our presence. That was probably a good thing. When Patches came back to us she was very calm and then through an IV was administered a lethal dosage of a barbiturate. Within 20 seconds Patches' heart stopped beating. Unlike Mattie's death, Patches' death seemed humane and peaceful. The vet assured us we were making the correct decision and were sparing Patches further pain and suffering. Patches was no longer the girl we knew. Her face was distorted, she was unable to eat or drink, but I have to tell you her spirit was still with us. She responded to us, meowed, and trotted around after us. An amazing cat!

 
Before we took Patches to the vet today, I snapped two pictures of her. Patches spent the afternoon on our couch, sitting where I typically sit on the couch. There is something symbolic to this photo, as if Mattie is looking down on Patches. I believe in my Catholic religion, it is deemed that animals don't go to heaven. Just another issue I have with religion. If animals don't go to heaven, then I am very perplexed. Our pets are innocent, beautiful, and loving creatures, and in my opinion deserve a direct passage through the pearly gates. If Mattie has anything to do with things, I have no doubt they will be reunited.
 
Here is a close up good-bye photo of our dear Patches resting today! I am worn out, not physically feeling well, have a violent headache which I have had for over a week now.... so I am signing off. I am leaving you with a message from my mom. Much thanks to all of you for your continued support!
 
The End of an Era by Virginia R. Sardi

The end of an era! That's what it feels like today contemplating Patches' final day with you. It is the final blow that leaves only memories of those brief happy days of the past when Mattie brought sunshine into our lives and Patches, his sidekick, was a willing co-conspirator in whatever happened to be on Mattie's radar that day. Together they made beautiful music and their like will not be seen again any time soon. Patches, like our Mattie, will never be forgotten!! May she join up with her pal in Heaven to engage in their familiar antics and pranks that enlivened our lives unforgettably so that the Angels will know exactly what it is that we who are left behind miss so dearly!

March 19, 2013

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 -- Mattie died 184 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken on April 20 of 2002. Mattie was literally 16 days old. What I love about this photo was it not only shows how alert Mattie was from day one, but check out who was on the couch with my two boys. PATCHES! Patches was passed out on the couch by day because she knew by night there was NO peace or sleep happening in our home. Patches has walked the journey of our married life and with that came the birth, growth, cancer, and death of Mattie. 


Quote of the day: The naming of cats is a difficult matter. It isn't just one of your holiday games. You may think at first I'm mad as a hatter. When I tell you a cat must have three different names. ~ T.S. Eliot


Peter and I had a very upsetting evening with Patches. Patches is starving and desperately wants to eat. She took her seat at our dining room table and was really begging for what we were eating. So we cut up some chicken for her and she ate it. However, eating sets off a chain reaction which is horrific to watch. She literally jumps around, hits her head on the wall or floor, and then tries to scratch out her mouth. It is beyond awful to watch and then to see her paws covered in blood. Last night's episode depressed Peter and he couldn't eat dinner. It was abundantly evident to both of us that Patches needs to be put to sleep. To make it through the night, we began giving Patches liquid pain meds. This seems to be bringing her some peace until we can schedule an appointment with the vet.

I called Patches vet this morning and we decided to put Patches to sleep on Wednesday at 4:40pm. In the mean time, she is on pain meds around the clock, because we do not want to see her in pain. We very much appreciate the messages you are leaving us on the blog or the emails you are sending to us personally. I also appreciate the personal stories some of you have shared with me about the loss of your pet and how you can relate to our feelings and concerns. As so many of our readers know losing Patches is doubly hard for us because now our home will truly be quiet. It is back to being just the two of us.

I love TS Eliot's quote because he was right, Patches has multiple names. NOT just one. Certainly she is Patches, but over the years she has been called the following: Beanie, Freanbean, String Beanie, Pole Cat, Miss Bean, Patchkin, Patchkinator, Mistress Bean (because she TRULY loves Peter), and of course NURSE PATCH! We have a long history together, therefore a name for almost every occasion. I would like to share two recent pictures with you of Patches.





Patches, like any cat, loves boxes. All packages that come into our home have been historically inspected by Patches and claimed. Over the weekend, I turned a large box I was saving for packing purposes on its side and put a blanket inside the box. Patches took to the box instantly and she is really looking for cozy and cuddly places now to settle.



By day, Patches is my working buddy. As I sit in the kitchen working on my lap top, she is sitting in her perch watching me. Though she doesn't have the energy to watch me anymore, she is still in her perch keeping guard over my daily routine. I will miss her presence by day, her vocalizations by night, and of course her comfort and compassion when I am sick.


 

March 18, 2013

Monday, March 18, 2013

Monday, March 18, 2013

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2008. A month before Mattie was diagnosed with cancer. Almost hard to believe! Patches was always very good with Mattie. In this particular case, Mattie wanted to feed Patches and he wanted to pet her at the same time. Patches was never a very cuddly type but she put up with it when it came to Mattie. Patches was patient with Mattie and she survived his tail pulling and chasing phases. But eventually he became a gentle and compassionate pet owner. So much so that when friends came to visit and tried to chase Patches, he would instruct them on how they needed to act and behave around her.


Quote of the day: There are no ordinary cats. ~ Colette


I began my day with a phone call to Patches vet. We discussed the next steps. When growing up, my family put many of our sick cats to sleep, however, I was never involved in the process. All I can recall is dropping the cat off at the vet, but never being in the room for a cat's last breath. I am sure most pet owners do not elect to do this, but in all reality Peter and I have been up close and personal with death. Helping Mattie die was horrific, because he did not want to die! We basically had to induce a coma and then of course we sat with him as he flat lined. A sound I will never forget. I don't care how experienced one is as a medical professional or how many patients a doctor may have lost in his/her career. The fact of the matter is when it is your child dying, it is different! The horror is all too real and personal and in so many ways it feels as if you have been transported to a war zone.

The vet today explained the process of "letting go." Frankly when she talked in these cutesy terms I had NO idea what she was talking about. Letting go could mean just about anything to me. So I had her clarify what on earth she was talking about. We walked through how an animal is put to sleep which involved both a sedative to calm the animal and then an IV drug to stop the animal's heart from beating. Not unlike what we did with Mattie. If I denied that this whole process doesn't remind me of Mattie, I would be kidding myself. In so many ways, this is like a double whammy.

After Patches dies the next question I asked the vet is what do we do with her remains? We have three options: 1) we take her body home and bury her somewhere outside the city limits (which though this is lovely, we do not live outside the city, nor do we have a backyard), 2) we allow her body to be cremated with other animals, and with this opinion we do not get her remains back, or 3) we have her privately cremated and get her remains back. A lot to absorb and take in. But right now as I am writing this, Patches is running around our home trying to rip the insides of her mouth out. Her mouth is bothering her (since the cancer is in her jaw) and both of her paws are bloody from tearing the insides of her mouth. As I told Peter tonight, I CAN'T take it!!! I can't take seeing her like this, in pain, unable to eat, and when she tries to eat, she freaks out and tears at her mouth. If you ask Peter his opinion on this he would simply say that he is tired of helping to assist with DEATH!
 

March 17, 2013

Sunday, March 17, 2013

 
Sunday, March 17, 2013

Tonight's picture was taken in March of 2009. Mattie's friends gave him these shamrock items as gifts. Mattie got all dressed up with them and I snapped a photo of that moment in time. This picture will always remind me of St. Patrick's day.


Quote of the day: I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul. ~ Jean Cocteau








Tonight's quote is SO touching. My readers who have animals, or who ever had a pet, know all too well the dimensions an animal can bring to our lives. I can't think of a better way to teach a child about responsibility, patience, and the art of nurturing another living creature than by having a pet. Patches has filled our home for 17 years now with her liveliness, grace, and antics. Not to mention her vocalizations at all hours of the day!!!

Since Patches was diagnosed with bone cancer on January 7, 2013, she has slowly declined. I remind myself often that her vet wanted to put her to sleep in January, but we have cared for her and given her two extra months of life. Now we have to stop and assess her life. Are we prolonging her life now for us or her? She is emaciated, can't eat (ANYTHING), and can hardly drink water. In addition, she is becoming quite congested. With all that being said, she is still very responsive to us. She follows Peter around where ever he goes (a bit like Mary had a little lamb, but she always did this) and she wants to be a part of our threesome. When I see this behavior it is hard to accept that we need to put her to sleep. I am calling Patches' vet tomorrow morning and finding out what our next steps are because physically Patches may not make the week.


This morning while we were having breakfast, Patches jumped up on our table and snuggled up to Peter's arm. Despite the fact that she is physically falling apart, she appears to be her beautiful self. I never understood why someone abandoned Patches on the streets of DC. She is a beauty and very intelligent. The only catch is that Patches is demanding and extremely VOCAL! Funny how sounds I once may have been annoyed with, now will be greatly missed!