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: 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

Random Shots of Mattie, Family and Friends

August 15, 2015

Saturday, August 15, 2015

video

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Tonight's video was taken in August of 2009. By this point we knew that Mattie's cancer was terminal. Because Mattie's cancer journey was so aggressive and he never had a period of remission, we were never able to fill out an application with the Make a Wish Foundation. Mattie had many wishes while he was battling cancer, but we couldn't fill them because he was always in treatment. As he came to the end of his journey, Linda (Mattie's child life specialist) contacted the Lego store at our local mall and arranged for Mattie to meet and work with two Lego master builders. The special part about this was the store was closed to other customers. Only Mattie and his friend, Abbie were in the store.. Mattie had the whole store to himself, and that was very special. The master builders gave Mattie the chance to build ANY THING he wanted in the entire store. He could have picked a Lego kit, but that was NOT what he selected. Mainly because that year we practically went through EVERY kit in the store. It was our form of therapy while in the hospital. So Mattie wanted to do something different. It was his idea to design from the ground up a NYC taxi cab. I am sure that came to his mind since he rode in several of them while undergoing experimental treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering on several occasions. The master builders helped Mattie with the design and this little video clip was humorous, because Mattie did not want the rest of us who were observing to know his plans. Which was why he started whispering and also asked the master builders to whisper. He wanted the final taxi to be a surprise. This taxi is still on display in our living room. 



Quote of the day: The battles that count aren’t the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself–the invisible battles inside all of us–that’s where it’s at. ~ Jesse Owens


Peter and I spent the majority of the day outside tending to our garden. A week a way from it required a lot of tender loving care. Things are looking back in shape now and cleaner. While we were in Boston, my mother-in-law gave me this outdoor MOON light. We put it outside yesterday afternoon and when we got back from dinner last night, the moon immediately caught my attention. See what you think...........................


video


August 14, 2015

Friday, August 14, 2015

Friday, August 14, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken on August 8, 2009. Mattie's cancer diagnosis became terminal on August 5, and now three days later we decided to surprise him with something he always wanted, which was a ride on vehicle. When Mattie was healthy, he always wanted a big car that he could drive. One of our neighbors had such a car, which gave him the idea that he too needed one. But because these vehicles are expensive and I figured it was a fad that he would play with for a couple of minutes and then forget about, I refused his request for such a large gift. Yet when your child is dying from cancer, it is amazing what you wouldn't do! Things that you said NO to many times before now seemed ridiculous to deny. This ride on car being one of them. Tonight, I am going to show you a series of photos leading up to how Mattie was surprised with his gift. In this photo, you can see Peter wheeling Mattie outside to our deck. Peter asked Mattie to close him eyes. Mattie knew something was awaiting him, but he really had no idea what it was! 


Quote of the day: I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took any excuse. ~ Florence Nightingale


When we opened our front door, this was the huge box Mattie saw. We live in a complex in which we park our car, one floor below where we live. So that meant we had to get this large box out of our car, through the parking garage and onto an elevator! That alone was a feat. Mind you Peter and I were physically exhausted by that point in Mattie's treatment trajectory, not to mention emotionally on over load. But something kept driving us to accomplish this important task and that was Mattie's happiness during his last days. 







This was Mattie's face as he saw the big box on our deck! He was happy as we explained to him what was inside. 











As the box was being opened, I snapped a photo of Peter and Mattie together. Mattie was excited to touch the car and couldn't wait for Peter to assemble the car so he could ride on it! 








As you can see, Peter tried to make the assembly process fun! Because there were MANY parts to put together, and it was getting boring for Mattie. Peter jumped into the box to liven things up! 
















Mattie was supervising the assembly process that day. It wasn't a short process either, but he was eager to watch and be involved. Which was no surprise since this was something he truly wanted for a long time! 















Here was a photo of Mattie in the final product! Mattie named the car, Speedy Red! Though I was anxious about Mattie driving this car, because it literally drives like a real car with a gas pedal and break, Mattie quickly learned the art of driving within days. At first I was his side kick in the passenger seat, but soon thereafter he dispensed with me and wanted his freedom. I always ran after him as he was driving because he had oxygen and a pain pump on board and all those things made me anxious. After Mattie died, Speedy was a part of our life for a long time, and sat parked on our deck. I couldn't seem to part with Speedy, or donate him. 


August 13, 2015

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Thursday, August 13, 2015


Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2007. Peter and I took Mattie to Roosevelt Island, and before crossing over the bridge to get onto the Island, Peter snapped a photo. We ventured to this Island often with Mattie. It was a wonderful place to journey because it was close to home and yet once on the Island there was so much to explore, walk, and see. Mattie never came home from a Roosevelt Island adventure empty handed. He always had a stone or branch in hand, which only added to the collection he started in our common's area. 




Quote of the day: 'I must do something,' always solves more problems than 'something must be done.' ~ Unknown



Today was our last day visiting Peter's parents in Boston. We started our morning by walking around Horn pond. We have gotten used to seeing this mother swan and her six signets with each visit. 







We even experienced a great blue heron fly over and when he settled in one location, I was able to capture this wonderful photo!










Near where the heron was perched, was a field of sunflowers. In fact, I can't get over how many sunflowers I saw planted in gardens all over New England. This really caught my attention, mainly because I love sunflowers. They remind me of the time in which Mattie battled cancer. For it was during that time, Mattie's support community frequently gave me sunflowers as gifts. Not because I liked sunflowers back then, but I suspect people thought that these flowers would brighten up our home and spirits. As a result of such kind gifts, the sunflower evolved into a symbol that represents to me community, support, and compassion.  

This is a photo Peter took during take off from Boston. You can see Hull, a peninsula which is in the center of the photo. 










As we were landing in Washington, DC, we flew right over National Harbor. You can't miss its landmark Ferris wheel in the middle of the water. 









A view of the Downtown Mall! Moving in a straight line down we literally could see the Lincoln Memorial (by the water at the twelve o'clock position in the photo), the reflecting pool, the Washington Monument, and the Capitol Building (which is almost at the six o'clock position in the photo). 

August 12, 2015

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2007. While visiting Peter's parents in Boston, we took Mattie to the beach. Mattie loved to check out the sand and particularly collect things along the way as he was walking. Mattie wasn't so much interested in going in the water. So he and I related to each other perfectly! 



Quote of the day: It is not fair to ask of someone else what you are not willing to do yourself. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt


Today we visited Revere Beach. Rather ironic, since the photo I posted above was also taken at Revere Beach with Mattie back in 2007. I uploaded that photo to the blog before I left DC, and I had NO IDEA we would be heading to this beach today! Revere beach is considered America's first public beach, which was established in 1896.





What I did not realize until today was that located alongside the beach was a famous amusement park called Wonderland. Wonderland Park, Revere Beach’s Mystic City by the Sea, was America’s foremost self-contained amusement park. Conceived in 1905, it opened in 1906. Some people believe it to be the inspiration behind the Disney theme parks of today. The similarities are striking. The park had it all, from carousels, roller coasters, to ballrooms! Why this name sticks out to me is because my 85 year old friend, Mary used to talk to me about Wonderland ALL THE TIME!!!



Here is a photo of what the giant coasters at Wonderland looked like at one time. Of course NOW there isn't even a trace of an amusement park left by the sea! Instead the amusement park has been replaced with a Greyhound racing track. 






One of the highlights on our trip to Revere Beach today was to see the remaining sand sculptures on display. The Revere Beach 12th Annual International Sand Sculpting Festival was help on July 24-26. This free event is open to the public and draws crowds from all over New England. In 2014, the event attracted over 600,000 attendees. At the heart of the festival is the Master Sand Sculptor Competition. Over the course of 4 days, over 20 sculptors (invited from around the world) compete for a prize. I have seen photos of sand sculptures before but I have NEVER seen them up close and personal. This was a first! I know Mattie would have absolutely LOVED this! 


There were about 20 sculptures on display. During the actual festival, there were gates all around each sculpture. But now that the Festival is over, you are allowed to walk up to each structure and examine and touch it! Which is actually very special. We took a photo with this one. I selected it because of its content. It has a motto at the base of the child's figure, which reads, "While there is life, there is hope!" This resonated with me, because in the world of cancer, this is indeed true. As long as we had Mattie alive, we always had great hope, no matter how grave things looked. As you can see this sculpture won second place. 






Barbara and I posed by this incredibly large sculpture. When I went on line to learn more about these sculptures, I could see that the base of this beauty was started using what looks to be boxes. If you want to see what I am talking about, go to this link:

http://reverebeach.com/2015-sand-sculpting-festival-coverage/




Although I do not know the names of these pieces, this one clearly features Lady Liberty, with what I imagine to be her welcoming an immigrant to our Country. Someone in search of a better life for herself and her family. I suspect this, as this woman is holding a boat in her right hand. Symbolic of the journey she took to get here and perhaps of what she is leaving behind.











Thought this woman clearly looks like she went on one massive shopping spree, I think the content of this sculpture is more in depth than this. But I could be wrong. Since the signage is no longer in tact and the sculpture itself is missing parts, one is left to one's own imagination. Maybe that is okay too! 














Here is another example of the intricate detail and nature of these sculptures. Not only are they works of art, but clearly they also have meaning and messages behind them! I would love to get a hold of one of these artists and encourage them to sculpt something for childhood cancer. To bring awareness to this issue and to let this message go viral. But in a format that people would find engaging, such as a sand castle. I can't think of a better medium that symbolizes children! Most children gravitate to the beach and playing in the sand.  


August 11, 2015

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Tuesday, August 11, 2015 -- Mattie died 309 weeks ago today. 

Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2007. Mattie was outside in my in-law's backyard in Boston. What was he looking for? Mattie was in search of chipmunks. Each day the resident chipmunk came out and Mattie was fascinated by him. Mattie named him, Chippy! 

In fact, this photo of "Chippy" was used by Mattie for a kindergarten class assignment. His teacher asked him to bring in about five or six photos that would inspire him to begin the art of writing. Mattie and I went through several photos together and one of the six we chose was "Chippy." 






Quote of the day: What you allow is what will continue. ~ Unknown



Today we ventured to Salem, Massachusetts and went to the Peabody Essex Museum to see the special exhibit entitled, American Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood. I have to admit I really had no idea at first who Thomas Benton was however, as we began touring the exhibit it became clearer that I knew his works from his famous lithographs advertising the Grapes of Wrath and the illustrations in many of Mark Twain's novels. 

This is the first major exhibition on Thomas Hart Benton in more than 25 years and the first to explore important connections between Benton's art and the movies. After working briefly in the silent film industry, Benton became acutely aware of storytelling's shift toward motion pictures and developed a cinematic style of painting that melded European art historical traditions and modern movie production techniques. In paintings, murals, drawings, prints and illustrated books, Benton reinvented national narratives for 20th-century America and captivated the public with his visual storytelling.


Benton wanted to become the major American artist of his time. He trained in Chicago and Paris and was a member of New York's artistic vanguard, but by his mid-20's, Benton had yet to make the kind of defining contribution to the art history of the United States that his ancestors, U.S. Senator Thomas Hart Benton and John Charles Fremont, had made to the nation's political history. Casting about for work and opportunities, Benton became a set painter on silent film productions in Fort Lee, New Jersey - the nation's "first Hollywood." 

"Benton developed a modern cinematic painting style to communicate epic narratives as memorably as the movies of his day," says Austen Barron Bailly, PEM's George Putnam Curator of American Art. "He wanted to capture the feel of motion pictures on canvas: the illusion of three-dimensional space, rhythmic motion and the glow of projected light." To achieve this, Benton adopted techniques used by 16th-century Italian painters to sculpt and illuminate clay models before sketching the forms to work up a final painting. Early filmmakers also adopted these Old Master techniques to study scene composition. Benton's meticulous artistic process parallels the storyboard-to-final-take methods developed by the film industry.

Benton became acutely aware of the motion picture industry's rising influence and mass appeal. Themes of cultural identity, westward expansion, prejudice, tolerance and the American Dream were given epic treatment on movie screens, and Benton sought to paint them. Like the movies, murals are a form of public art, so Benton embarked on a self-commissioned, independently produced mural series, American Historical Epic. This sweeping series painted between 1920 and 1928 runs to more than 60 feet in length and appears in the exhibition. Benton selected episodes from American history familiar from 1920's silent films, but he depicted the nation's past in unconventional ways to engage the hot-button issues of the day: citizenship, race relations and national identity. As Benton explained, "history was not a scholarly study for me but a drama." 

Simultaneously, Benton started traveling regularly around the country in search of distinctly American subject matter. Like Hollywood, he recognized typecasting as a way to transform individuals into a cast of American characters and personalities, among them Yankees, bootleggers, musicians and cotton pickers. Inspired by his characterizations, 20th Century Fox commissioned Benton to create a series of lithographs (as seen here) in 1940 to promote John Ford's filmed adaptation of John Steinbeck's best selling novel The Grapes of Wrath.

After we our our Museum adventure, we then headed to a large warehouse in Salem that featured four floors full of antiques. It literally had something for everyone. It seems to me this particular warehouse is the best kept secret in the area for antique furniture at a wonderful price. I even met the buyer of the pieces and commended him on his prices. All I know is if I had a house and wanted to purchase furniture for it, I would be heading to visit this fellow! Antique desks, tables, dining room sets, and so forth.... all at very reasonable prices! Also in good condition because in many cases he and his business partner recondition them. As I was walking through the warehouse, the fourth floor was like a walk down memory lane. I found things from my own childhood that caught my attention!


I would like to think I am NOT an antique, however, I know when I was a child I had two lamps that were just like this! They were like music boxes. The children sat on a turn table, that could be wound up to play music. I loved these lamps! I did not wind this lamp today, but I would bet you if I did it played the song, "School Days, School Days, dear old golden rule days...." given the fact that over the little boy is a sign that reads, 'School.' 










Now this next photo, I am a bit more sketchy on! These are a pair of roller skates. I know my first pair of skates couldn't have possibly been these, since these skates are from the 50's. So I imagine they probably belonged to a family member of mine. None the less as a kid, I played with them and used them because they were adjustable. Yet I can remember putting them on and rolling all over our house in them!

My last favorite toy find that I spotted today was this cute Fisher Price phone. I loved this phone. Not so much for talking, the dialing, or the noise it made. But I loved its pretty blue eyes, and I can recall walking this phone like a dog. As a child, I would pull the handset like a leash just to watch the pretty blue eyes move along with me. In many ways this was a walk down memory lane today, something that I wasn't expecting to see or experience. But this is the art of antiquing. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Monday, August 10, 2015


Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2007. Mattie had just completed this large puzzle of King Tut at Peter's parents home in Boston. Mattie wanted to prove that he was taller than the puzzle, so he got on the floor and lined himself up with the puzzle. Of course by extending his toes and raising his arms over his head, Mattie was indeed taller than the puzzle! Proving his point! Of course to me this was a noteworthy photo. The sad part about this photo to me is that once Mattie developed cancer and had surgeries on his arms, he was NEVER able to lift his arms over his head EVER again. With the prosthetics he lost that range of motion. 



Quote of the day: No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another. ~ Charles Dickens 


This morning we went for a walk around Horn Pond. This pond is not far from where Peter's parents live, and it is a local gem where you can find people of all ages out and about enjoying a walk and the sights to be seen. The pond never disappoints! This morning we were treated to a visit by a mother swan with her signets. Mattie would have loved this sighting, since he was always intrigued by any mother with her young in tow. 

Someone who was walking around the pond stopped us to make sure we saw this wood duck. People are quite friendly around the Pond and many have an appreciation for the special place that it is. This was my first time seeing a wood duck, but I won't forget the white circle around her eye, which apparently is a distinctive marking of such a duck. 




After our walk, we took an hour long conference call with one of the professional childhood cancer associations that we are a member of. Typically we try not to work over a break, but this call was important because the Association asked us to talk about our National Psychosocial Standards of Care project. Since this project is very important to Mattie Miracle, we made time for the call. 


Later in the afternoon, we all drove into the city of Boston to see the Greenway. In 1991, after almost a decade of planning, construction began on the Central Artery/Tunnel Project, more widely known as the "Big Dig." The project, recognized as one of the largest, most complex, and technologically challenging in the history of the United States, would remove the elevated highway and create a tunnel system below the city.
With the elevated highway to be relocated underground, community and political leaders seized the opportunity to enhance the city by creating the Greenway, a linear series of parks and gardens that would re-connect some of Boston’s oldest, most diverse, and vibrant neighborhoods. 
On October 4, 2008, tens of thousands of visitors came together for the parks’ Inaugural Celebration with the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy. The Greenway encompasses gardens, plazas, and tree-lined promenades and is a key feature of the modern reinvention of Boston, the Harbor and the Waterfront.

The Greenway Carousel features 14 different characters native to the land, sea and sky of Massachusetts including a sea turtle, a cod, a peregrine falcon, a grasshopper, a harbor seal, a fox, a skunk, a whale, three types of butterflies, a barn owl, and a sea serpent. The characters were inspired by the drawings of Boston school children and fabricated by Newburyport, Massachusetts artist Jeff Briggs. There are a total of 36 seats on the Green Way Carousel, considered New England’s most accessible carousel for adults and youth with physical or auditory disabilities.

I have never seen a carousel like this, made out of animal creatures that bobbed up and down! This is a close up of my favorite carousel seat.... the butterfly!


















Rowes Wharf is best known for the Boston Harbor Hotel's multi-story arch over the wide public plaza between Atlantic Avenue and the Boston Harbor waterfront. Along the waterfront can be found a marina, restaurants, a water transportation terminal, and a floating stage offering free concerts and movies during the summer.

We walked through Faneuil Hall and the Greenway and had a wonderful tour of this downtown area. At which point, we took an iced tea break and Peter's parents snapped a photo of us on the Greenway. 








This evening, Peter and I met up with my friend Jen and her husband David. I met Jen on my very first day of graduate school at Boston College. We immediately clicked with each other from that very first day. One of Jen's daughters is actually Mattie's age and in fact both Mattie and Caroline met one another when they were toddlers. They had a play date together when we visited Boston and they got along splendidly. But because of our geographic distance, I haven't seen Jen in ten years. I honestly couldn't believe this, but we recounted this tonight when we met one another. We have kept in electronic contact over the years, but as tonight did prove, there is nothing like face to face communication. At one point, Jen grabbed my hand and said she did not want to let it go because she was afraid she wouldn't see me for another ten years. I understood that feeling. It is ironic that we live in two different states and live different lives, and yet at the core the friendship that we established years ago is built on something that allows us to remain united and connected. To me this is a noteworthy gift.

August 9, 2015

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2007. As you can see Mattie and Peter were having a wonderful time going down the slip and slide at Peter's parents home in Boston. This was Mattie's first experience with such a slide and he took to it like a duck to water. With Mattie you never knew what to expect. Sometimes he approached things very cautiously and if he had a bad experience with them, then he would get turned off of the whole activity. So we learned that he had to move slowly and gradually with Mattie and follow his lead. Once he was comfortable with something, then there was no stopping him. 



Quote of the day: The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good–and how he treats people who can’t fight back. ~ Abigail Van Buren



Last night we went out to dinner at a restaurant called, Brown's Wharf in Boothbay Harbor. It was a very charming setting right on the water and the neighboring restaurant was playing live jazz music. So it actually was a very relaxing and entertaining meal all in one. When I arrived in Boothbay on Friday, my lifetime friend, Karen let me know about Brown's Wharf! The irony is she lives in New York City (not Maine), but we both like food and restaurants, and when we go places, we like to get involved in our dining experiences. For us food is a big part of our trips. We all got a kick out of the name of the restaurant, since my married name is Brown and I am traveling with Peter's family who are all Browns. So this seemed like the appropriate restaurant for all of us to visit on our last night. As you can see Peter snapped a photo of me wearing a lobster bib. I can attest to the fact that Maine lobster is quite wonderful!


This was the sight we could see while dining. There were yachts, lobster boats, sailboats, birds flying over head, and as the sun was setting, we could see absolutely amazing colors in the sky.









On our way back to Boston today from Boothbay, we stopped in Kennebunkport for lunch at Pier 77. This restaurant was hopping today, and I suspect it was because the weather was glorious, the sun was shining, and people wanted to be out and about enjoy it and time together. 

The last time I visited the Maine coastline was before Mattie was born. So it has been over a decade. There is something quite beautiful and natural about this part of our Country. In many ways in comparison to where Peter and I live, Maine isn't built up, there are few people, no congestion, and the way of life seems so different and foreign to me. Yet one can appreciate the natural space, the water, and charm of these beautiful towns. In a way words can't do Maine justice, one has to really visit the state to experience it because I do think in many ways Maine is a sensory experience. 

Case in point, before leaving Maine today, we also went to a large outdoor flea market. This market has a history, it opened in 1977, by Norma Hunnewell and since that time has grown to the number 1 antique market in the State of Maine. It is now run by her daughter, Gena (http://www.montsweagfleamarket.net/). While at the Market, I had the opportunity to talk to several people who have lived in Maine all their lives. They really welcomed me, someone from DC and were thrilled to talk with me and share a host of information with me, such as where to get the best blueberries in town (which is one of the fruits Maine is known for). There was clearly great pride felt in one's town and region and they were happy to share and impart it. But it was the friendliness, warmth, and good nature that was special to experience. Perhaps it is not having competition for space and feeling more free in one's environment that provides one this sense of calmness? I don't know, but there is indeed a measurable and noteworthy difference.