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

September 10, 2016

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2008. In a way this is a great follow up photo that illustrates last night's blog theme..... the beauty of a cardboard box. In all reality there was NOTHING Mattie couldn't do with a box. As you can see, Mattie's psychosocial providers collected a few boxes for him. Mattie taped them together and was transporting them to his hospital room. For yet another admission. I can't tell you how many boxes and creations we stored in our two by four of a hospital room. But it did not bother Peter and me because we knew this was a great distraction for Mattie. 



Quote of the day: Compassion is the antitoxin of the soul. ~ Eric Hoffer


This was what was happening in our living room this afternoon. Sunny is truly man's best friend. He has integrated into our home, like he has always been here. There really was NO transition and very little difficultly! Which is remarkable. He is the ideal dog, and I am beyond perplexed why someone would abandon him. 
This evening, we took Sunny on his first official playdate at my friend, Heidi's home. Heidi's dog is Fenway, and today was Fenway's birthday! Sunny and Fenway took an instant liking to one another. But in all honestly, I have yet to meet a dog that has issues with Sunny! Sunny seems to ooze out kindness, patience, and leadership. But in a loving way. 

Somewhere along the way, Sunny had to be in a loving household. He was trained to understand commands, he isn't destructive at home, has a bladder of steel, and rarely barks! We call him our "Super Pooch!"

September 9, 2016

Friday, September 9, 2016

Friday, September 9, 2016


Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2008. Our neighbor had this special cowboy dog created for Mattie. The pooch even had Mattie's name and a message to him on the bottom of his boot. We got a kick out of this because the stuffed animal was almost as tall as Mattie. When I look back at this photo, I can remember how ignorant and naive we were because we thought that we were aggressively fighting Mattie's cancer and that there was some sort of hope that he could survive the disease. 




Quote of the day: Some memories are unforgettable, remaining ever vivid and heartwarming! ~ Joseph B. Wirthlin



My friend and colleague, Nancy, sent me this book in acknowledgment of Mattie's anniversary. Nancy knows how much Mattie loved cardboard boxes. The book highlights what a child can do with a little imagination and a box. Something I saw first hand. 

At an early age, Mattie gravitated to boxes. He would turn any package or delivery box we received into a car, a house, an airport, etc. 

This love for boxes continued into kindergarten. Mattie's kindergarten teacher ran a construction club after school and Mattie LOVED it. In the club kids got to use everyday items and created masterpieces using hammers, glue guns, you name it! 


These three examples below are some of Mattie's creations from his construction club days. Notice the paper towel roll, the plastic container, a cereal box, and popsicle sticks. 
You may even notice in the lower left hand corner, Patches (our calico) checking out Mattie's creations!












A Mattie tower




















Boxes became crucial in the hospital. In fact Mattie's psychosocial staff would save boxes just for Mattie because they knew how eager he was to create. While creating, Mattie wasn't focused on how he was feeling or his situation. Boxes became healthy diversions! 

In this particular case Mattie designed a box to hide away in, since he didn't like the noise and commotion in the clinic at times. He was hooked up to an IV, but in there he couldn't see the pole. 









In October of 2008, Mattie worked hard at creating the ultimate Haunted House out of a VERY large box. He worked on this house for weeks. After it was built, he even designed a witch and ghosts! He played with this house often while hospitalized and pulled others into his play schemes. 














This large blue plane was designed by Mattie and Peter in the child life playroom (if you can call it that) at Memorial Sloan Kettering. The room is as large as a warehouse! 

The child life staff there did not get Mattie at all. Linda, Mattie child life specialist at Georgetown University Hospital, called to talk to her colleagues in NYC. She told them about Mattie's love for boxes and to save some for his arrival. They literally thought that was a crazy request and were also not intrigued by the final product. They did not get us and we did not get them! It was a mutual distaste. Thankfully Mattie did not have to have treatment there long term. Mattie was so in love with this plane, that he insisted it come back to the hotel with us. You should have seen that going into a NYC taxi. Mattie thought it was a riot to see a big blue plane loaded into a taxi, but he enjoyed seeing the plane in our hotel room and felt proud of his accomplished creation.

September 8, 2016

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Thursday, September 8, 2016 -- Mattie died seven years ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2009. Mattie was home, between treatments and before his sternotomy. As you can see Mattie had a toy kitty sitting on his lap. Mattie missed having Patches around, but because we were rarely home we had to board Patches. Mattie received this kitty as a gift from Linda, his child life specialist, for accomplishing either a physical therapy task or complying with some form of treatment. This kitty gift was very important to Mattie and it still sits in Mattie's room even today. 





Quote of the day: I want to be a sunflower, so that even in the darkest of days, I will stand tall and find the sunlight.



Seven years ago our lives changed forever. Today marks the anniversary of Mattie's death. For those of you who wonder... NO it doesn't get easier in time. It changes and frankly gets more complex. In a way grief becomes like an appendage which you carry with you no matter where you go. Losing your child forever changes your identity, your future, how you see the world, and clouds every social interaction you have. Yet, grief isn't always understood by our society and appreciated for its significance.



It is hard to believe that Mattie has NOW been dead as long as he has been alive and each day moving forever, Mattie will be gone longer from our lives than he has been with us. It is a pain that never goes away and is ever present.

Peter and I posted several photos and comments on Facebook today and we received lots of feedback from friends but also parents who lost a child to cancer. Several of them appreciated my point about loss and grief..... which I am very blatant about. The grief doesn't end and the more we talk about it and share this fact with others, the better off some of us will be. We will know we are NOT alone and do not need to hide how we feel because not talking about our loss, serves no purpose, but instead builds up great frustration, stress, and anger. 

Over the weekend, Peter and I went to visit Mattie's Memorial Tree. We placed sunflowers and ribbon around the tree to mark Mattie's anniversary week. 

Then Sunny and I went out for marathon walks today. We first took a two mile walk around our home and then got into the car and traveled to Georgetown University Hospital. We ran into college students and medical personnel, all of whom fell in love with Sunny. 

As you can see Sunny gave me time by Mattie's paver. He actually sat right beside it! We are very thankful to our friend Tim for creating this paver for us. 


Yet I am saddened that many of the nurses and support staff that cared for Mattie are no longer at Georgetown. This mass exodus leaves another hole in our hearts, because they help us keep Mattie's memory alive. When the memory keepers leave an institution, then the institution is simply only walls, floors, and windows! 














From Georgetown University Hospital, we walked to Holy Trinity Church. This is the church where Mattie's funeral was held. In the church's garden there are memorial bricks. One of Mattie's preschool classmates had a grandmother who we were close to. Her name was Ann Glennon. When the kids were in preschool together, I had the opportunity to get to know Ann each day after school on the playground. She was a bright and energetic woman from Massachusetts, who was an educator and counselor. When Mattie was diagnosed with cancer, Ann would write to me amazing letters (a thing of the past!). Then when Mattie died, she became a big Mattie Miracle supporter and also donated a memorial brick in Mattie's honor to the church's garden. 


This is what the brick said.....
In Loving Memory 
Mattie Brown
King of the Legos
Classmate & Friend
Peace
Sam, Maddie, Ryan (Ann's grandchildren who went to school with Mattie)

September 7, 2016

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2008. Mattie was a month into treatment and what everyone in the hospital quickly figured out was that Mattie loved to create, to build, and to imagine. This was thankfully a blessing since his disease whipped out his energy level and then after his limb salvaging surgeries he had trouble using his arms and legs. But he had enough strength and mobility to still create. It was Mattie's form of play but also his therapy in the hospital. However, I am grateful that Mattie was so prolific in the hospital because all of the items he made we still have and cherish. They are his legacy.  



Quote of the day: What distinguishes the majority of men from the few is their inability to act according to their beliefs. ~ John Stuart Mill



This is a photo of Mattie's school. The high school to be exact. Yesterday Mattie's class of 2020 entered their freshman year of high school. It is hard to imagine that Mattie missed elementary, middle and now high school. This is already a painful reality on top of the fact that tomorrow is the 7th anniversary of Mattie's death. As of tomorrow Mattie will be dead as many years as he was alive. 

This morning looking out the window, I was greeted with a beautiful gold finch. Do you see him, bright yellow in color? For the past several days, we have been visited by these birds, and they clearly love picking at our basil plants. 


















When Peter came home from work tonight he got a lovely handshake! Sunny loves to hold hands, to dance, and to social!
Guess who hopped up on Mattie's bed tonight!? Mattie always wanted a dog, so I know he would have loved this sight!
Sunny and I walked in the rain tonight. I am not sure what he loved more.... getting wet or coming in and getting a towel rub down! He is absolutely so compliant and patient!!! 

September 6, 2016

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Tuesday, September 6, 2016 -- Mattie died 364 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2008. It is one of my favorite photos I took of Mattie a month into his treatment. Peter's mom sent Mattie this foam puzzle and after he put it together (since he was my puzzler), he sat on top of it. I always entitled this photo... Mattie sitting on top of the world. 


Quote of the day: One of the most valuable thing we can do to heal one another is listen to each other's stories. ~ Rebecca Falls


This morning Sunny and I went on a 2.6 mile walk in DC. He absolutely loved it. We paused in front of the Vietnam Memorial. Somehow Sunny seemed to understand that this was a special place, a place of reflection in a way. What a smart boy, as this site honors the many lives that were killed protecting our freedoms. 




On our way back home, we ran into two day care providers with a carriage full of six children. The children were all crying and unhappy. Well that is until they saw Sunny. They immediately started to smile and wanted to pet this great boy! Sunny is super patient, loving, and kind. Like a big 53 pound teddy bear. He was happy to comply for a stop. 

Sunny also went for his first vet visit with me today. Our previous vet moved, and we established a connection with a new vet and facility. Ironically the new vet used to work at the previous animal hospital we went to and she knew Patches. So we have come full circle in a way. The vet spent an hour with us, answering questions, doing testing, and examining Sunny. Sunny got a clean bill of health, factoring out that he has heart worm that must be treated shortly. Dogs have to take heart worm preventative meds once a month, throughout their life. Without these meds, they can catch heart worm, which is how Sunny contracted this to begin with. He has already been on antibiotics for a month, but then will need three shots over the course of two months to totally kill the worms. But as the worms are dying, he must be rather inactive because as the worms are being disintegrated they travel through the bloodstream and could lodge in his heart or lungs. However, I also learned that while dealing with the shots he will be given pregnisone for inflammation and tramadol for pain. 

However, Sunny is a special addition to our home. He brings life into our world and he forces me to stop working, go for walks, and to interact with people all around us. I can't tell you how many people have told us we have a beautiful dog and they think he is a SHE!!! To know Sunny is to love him. I bumped into my friend Heidi today while out doing chores and Heidi gave me three SPECIAL treats for Sunny! One being bacon flavored ice cream, specially formulated for dogs. All I know is the first treat I gave him which was a beef flavored sausage treat.... he devoured! 

September 5, 2016

Monday, September 5, 2016

Monday, September 5, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2008. Mattie was a month into chemotherapy, and at that point Patches was still living in our home. As you can see we had a lot going on. Mattie was on IV fluids, but his surgeries hadn't occurred yet, so he was still walking. Mattie loved Patches!!! However, a few weeks after this photo was taken we had to board Patches at our vet full time for over a year. Patches had her own health issues and needed proper management, and though it was a hard decision to remove Patches from a home environment, I know that for Patches it was the right decision. We were never home (as Mattie's treatment basically resulted in us living in the hospital) to care for her and we needed to be completely focused upon Mattie's care. 

Quote of the day: Work and play are words used to describe the same thing under differing conditions. ~ Mark Twain



This morning after Peter walked Sunny, he came back looking exhausted. I had no place for him to lie down in Mattie's room (where I work), so I pulled out Mattie's old blue comforter. A comforter that I washed years ago and stored. I have to believe that Mattie would want Sunny to sit on his blanket, since Mattie was always determined to get a dog. In a way, Mattie was with us today and I know Mattie would have absolutely LOVED Sunny!

Sunny gets four walks a day. This afternoon we took him for a two mile walk and he got to see the Potomac River for the first time! He loved the sights, the ducks in the water, and the excitement around him. Sunny seems totally desensitized to loud sounds, bicycles, cars, trucks, children, and other dogs. He is a "cool cat" and very easy to walk. Except the fact that he is intrigued by squirrels and rats. It is actually disgusting to know that there are SO MANY rat holes in DC and guess who is finding each and every one of them?! When Sunny sees a squirrel it is a big deal. He literally wants to chase it. The first time he saw one with us we weren't prepared, but now we know how to hold him so he doesn't go flying!  

In addition to all the cat and dog excitement in our home this weekend, we also have been having hummingbird sightings. Can you see this little bird (sort of greenish) right by the pink rose? Before I left for Los Angeles two weeks ago, we put a hummingbird feeder on the deck. We did this because I saw while working at my desk that we were having visitations. Today I saw it for myself..... a hummingbird feeding right outside my window. 

September 4, 2016

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2008. We took Mattie to NYC for the first time to meet with a doctor from Memorial Sloan Kettering. Before his doctor appointments, we took Mattie to the famous FAO Schwarz toy store. He was fascinated by the big piano keyboard on the floor and all the Legos. 

Quote of the day: No farmer ever plowed a field by turning it over in his mind. ~ George Woodbury


Last night we brought up the dog crate to our bedroom and set it up for Sunny. Though I am not pro-crate, I do see why it maybe necessary in the beginning to train Sunny about the art of sleeping. Sunny appears to be nocturnal, not unlike Indie. The first night with us, he really did not sleep and jumping up and down on the bed. Which at 50 pounds is noteworthy! I was given this crate for free from a friend. She advertised that I needed a crate on her neighborhood listserv, and this one came my way!

The point of the crate is to make the dog feel safe and secure. Which is why a blanket is placed over the crate, to make the environment look more den like. As soon as Sunny got into the crate last night, he just knew it was time to settle down. I am not sure he actually slept, but he was quiet and peaceful, unlike the night before. 

Mind you, Sunny's activity at night isn't due to inactivity by day. He gets around four walks a day, each over a mile. 

I entitle this photo....Detente! After just a few days, Indie is making her way out of the closet, where she has been hiding. Can you see her on the desk? Sunny is very clued into her every move. 

This was a photo from this afternoon. Indie is on a dining room chair and Sunny is eagerly watching her. 
We went to a pet store today with Sunny. We thought he would like that experience, but actually he appeared anxious in the store. So we did not stay long. I suspect Sunny isn't used to having toys and he most definitely doesn't understand the art of playing with a toy. Which is sad, since he is such a loving dog. So we bought a ball and will be working on fetch with him. However, what he is chewing on is an elk antler. Apparently very popular with dogs. 

The beauty of Sunny!

Hard to believe anyone would want to give up this great fellow.