Mattie Miracle 8th Annual Walk & Family Festival was an $88,000 Success!!!

Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation Promotional Video

Thank you for keeping Mattie's memory alive!

Dear Mattie Blog Readers,

It means a great deal to us that you take the time to write to us and to share your thoughts, feelings, and reflections on Mattie's battle and death. Your messages are very meaningful to us and help support us through very challenging times. To you we are forever grateful. As my readers know, I promised to write the blog for a year after Mattie's death, which would mean that I could technically stop writing on September 9, 2010. However, at the moment, I feel like our journey with grief still needs to be processed and fortunately I have a willing support network still committed to reading. Therefore, the blog continues on. If I should find the need to stop writing, I assure you I will give you advanced notice. In the mean time, thank you for reading, thank you for having the courage to share this journey with us, and most importantly thank you for keeping Mattie's memory alive.

As Mattie would say, Ooga Booga (meaning, I LOVE YOU)! Vicki and Peter

The Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation celebrates its 7th anniversary!

The Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation was created in the honor of Mattie.

We are a 501(c)(3) Public Charity. We are dedicated to increasing childhood cancer awareness, education, advocacy, research and psychosocial support services to children, their families and medical personnel. Children and their families will be supported throughout the cancer treatment journey, to ensure access to quality psychosocial and mental health care, and to enable children to cope with cancer so they can lead happy and productive lives. Please visit the website at: and take some time to explore the site.

We have only gotten this far because of people like yourself, who have supported us through thick and thin. So thank you for your continued support and caring, and remember:

.... Let's Make the Miracle Happen and Stomp Out Childhood Cancer!

A Remembrance Video of Mattie

Random Shots of Mattie, Family and Friends

June 24, 2017

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2003. Mattie was about a year old and my parents and I took him to the Reston Zoo. The beauty of this Zoo is that it is small and a very hands on experience for children. To me it is the ideal Zoo. As you can see here, Mattie was intrigued by the sheep. The Zoo provides food and bottles for you to feed the animals and Mattie loved the feeding process. Because it was such a positive environment for Mattie, we visited the Reston Zoo often throughout his toddler and preschool years. 

Quote of the day: I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive. ~ Gilda Radner

I can get in a bad mood and can live in this state for a few days. Yesterday's phone call that I was on set me off, and it continues to carry over to today. What instantaneously puts me in a bad mood is when I feel that the work of Mattie Miracle isn't appreciated and acknowledged. Unlike other things I have done, my work with Mattie Miracle is very personal and therefore when this work is not understood, it makes me upset. 

Of course regardless of my mood, I have Sunny on hand. He is very consistent as are his needs and behaviors. However, this morning my routine was off. He knows my every move and has STUDIED it well. But today I confused him because I threw on clothes to sit outside for breakfast. Typically Sunny knows the routine of breakfast, showering, and then walking with me. Since I did not follow my usual routine, check out the look Sunny was giving me from the stair case. He wasn't sure whether to go back upstairs because I hadn't showered yet or to come down the steps because I was dressed and potentially we would be going out for a walk. 

While confused, Sunny had his front paws on one step and his hind paws and rear on the step above. Seeing a 60 pound dog sitting like this on two steps is a riot. Sunny provides diversion and comedic relief to our lives. Which helps during period funks. 

June 23, 2017

Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday, June 23, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2004. Mattie was two years old and as you can see he had flopped into Peter's lap. This was a rare occurrence in our home. Since Mattie had two modes.... on and off. There was no napping or down time. Typically if Mattie wanted to rest his head, that meant he had a fever and wasn't feeling well. Resting was so unusual to see, that when Mattie did stop moving I photographed it!

Quote of the day: Anybody can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody's power and is not easy.  Aristotle

Aristotle's quote was BRILLIANT. There are a lot of things within the childhood cancer space that anger me. Let's start with the disease itself! Which of course is intertwined with the fact that the disease killed Mattie and changed our lives forever. For the most part I am a very level headed person and people tell me all kinds of things, and I don't fly off the handle. But when you start talking about Mattie Miracle, well watch out. It takes great restraint from me not to lash out, especially when I feel two things..... 1) you don't understand the complexities of the childhood cancer non-profit space, and 2) you don't truly comprehend or appreciate what Mattie Miracle does. 

Today I was on a phone call, and retreated from responding. That was the most mature thing I could do, because when so livid, nothing professional nor kind was going to come out of my mouth. So at first I felt angry over this particular conversation. But then I reflected on Aristotle's quote and realize my issues are truly bigger than the phone call. I realize all parents who lose a child to cancer, need to express their grief in their own way. I certainly don't judge that, but there is a fine line between loving your child and honoring their memory and exploiting a very bad situation in order to raise funds. It is the latter that I take grave issue with. 

We live in a society that doesn't always reward or acknowledge substance. I think that is ultimately what makes me mad. Instead of valuing what Mattie Miracle does based on its proven merit, we have a society that rewards gimmicks. In the childhood cancer space there are many of these gimmicks or diversions as I call them. What for example? Let's take mountain climbing, walking, and bicycle riding across the country. Several non-profits select these formats and solicit families living with childhood cancer for money, in order to post a deceased child's name at certain mile markers along the cross country journey. Clearly, there are many ways to react to this, and since these fundraisers tend to generate six figures at least, you can surmise there are many families eager to support this type of activity. I fall on the other end of the spectrum. I find these gimmicks insulting and meaningless. Why? Because I find the gimmicks water down the cause you are fighting for, and worse it takes the focus off the important issue at hand and shrouds it in something more fun and media catching. 

If you doubt this then take the Ice Bucket Challenge for example. An activity in which you video tape a bucket of water being tossed on you and then you tag friends on Facebook and challenge them to do the same within 24 hours, video record it, post it to Facebook and then they have to challenge five more people. If you decide NOT to do the challenge then you were requested to contribute financially to the ALS association. This gimmick was fraught with controversy. I included two articles below that talk about the issue at hand. 

Gimmicks are catchy and they certainly generate funds. But what is the overall impact long term on a non-profit who does gimmicks. Given my almost 8 years of experience running Mattie Miracle, I can say the key to running a successful non-profit is to have values, principles, and be true to your mission and cause. Gimmicks make you lose sight of this. Certainly it takes longer to build a solid supporter base, but at the end of the day as a Foundation leader, you have to live with yourself and the mark you are making for the cause.  

Here are two articles on the ice bucket challenge. That is just the gimmick I selected as an example, but you can replace the challenge with another gimmick, and to me the end result will be the same. 

Herrera wrote in the Huffington Post, "But in the bottom of my heart and in the back of my business-oriented mind, I want people to care. I want them to connect and to be a part of something not because it’s the trendy thing, or because they want to look good to others, but because they are somehow moved and inspired by the stories, the videos, and the photos that, thanks to social media, we are able to share far and wide. So while I agree with the mentality that “something is better than nothing,” I still think we should take a good look at why we are getting involved — is it for ourselves, or for cause?"

Hiltzik wrote in the LA Times, "The explosive spread of the ice bucket challenge could even end up hurting ALS fundraising in the long term. The challenge is a fad, and fads by their nature burn out--the brighter they glow, the sooner they disappear. The hard work of philanthropy always lies in creating a sustainable donor base. But the ice bucket challenge has all the hallmarks of something that will be regarded in 2015 as last year's thing."

June 22, 2017

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2005. This was what our deck used to look like.... filled with Mattie's toys and the occasional kiddie pool. This was Mattie's first pool that he received from Peter's parents. But I would have to say we went through at least three or four pools and every year they seemed to only have gotten larger. One year, the pool took up half of our deck! But it was an activity Mattie enjoyed and so I looked past the inconvenience. It wasn't as if Mattie liked to swim. What he loved was throwing his cars, trucks, and trains in the pool and making up play schemes with water and his vehicles. 

Quote of the day: How did it get so late so soon? Dr. Seuss

I love Dr. Seuss' quote tonight because somehow it relates to the kind of day I had. In many ways it was like I did not exist today, because I did not interact with the outside world at all! I was busy with laundry and a complete focus on writing Mattie Miracle's June newsletter. Fortunately Peter took Sunny with him to work today, which gave me more concentrated time. But without Sunny, my life is a blur. Which is one of the reasons I really wanted a dog. Sunny requires me to move, walk, and get outside. Without him, my reality looks a bit different. Even with all the concentrated time today, I did not finish the newsletter. It isn't like I just write it and it's done! I have to organize photos, organize walk facts, and then on top of that deal with computer issues. When electronics are involved, nothing just runs smoothly. I spent more time creating and re-creating things in order for them to visually look appealing on the electronic newsletter platform. Needless to say, I am WIPED out from looking at a computer screen. But I have more in store for me tomorrow, until this newsletter gets done. 

One of my friends in cancer today wrote to me, and asked me whether I feel like each day is a repeat of the day before!? That is actually an astute comment, because I would DEFINITELY say YES. That maybe how a good chunk of people feel on a regular basis anyway, because we all get into ruts. Therefore our routines can wear us down and we feel almost like we repeat the same pattern from the day before.

When you lose an only child to cancer, you are not just in a rut. You have instead fallen into a deep hole and have nothing to really serve as a benchmark or time point for you anymore. When you have a child, you have to keep your days of the week straight. You have to know what month it is, and when in doubt your child's schedule of school and activities will drill it into you. Losing a child, doesn't only mean a loss of a future, but it always means that you lose your internal time clock. While I see my friends with children progressing on and doing things...... vacations, graduations, religious ceremonies etc, for me life remains constantly the same. As if I am trapped in time, a time warp. For me, Mattie is always 7, I remain the same age, and I typically am confused about what day of the week it is. This reality can make you feel rather disengaged and disconnect. But when my friend mentioned this to me today, as she was checking in on her own feelings, her verbalization made me pause because clearly...... It's NOT just a Vicki issue! It's an issue for bereaved parents period!

June 21, 2017

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Tonight's video was posted to YouTube in 2009. This is another one I recently founded and decided to post it on the blog. This was classic Mattie. He decided to sit by the piano and just play. He was making up the music, out of his head. Keep in mind that I had to carry Mattie to the piano bench, as he could no longer walk, nor lift his arms over his head. Which was a result of limb salvaging surgery. What is a hoot about this video is that while Mattie was playing, the phone rang. Watch his response to this!!!

Quote of the day: I am not anxious to be the loudest voice or the most popular. But I would like to think that at a crucial moment, I was an effective voice of the voiceless, an effective hope of the hopeless. Whitney Young

Look who is DOG of the WEEK at Dogtopia!!!! The Dogtopia team emailed me today and said, "Sunny is Dog of the Week according to the boards! We all know he's Dog of the year though!"

You can see the actual posting in two places....on their website  ( on their electronic board located in the waiting area of Dogtopia of Alexandria. 

Sunny has only stayed at Dogtopia two times so far, but I can see he has worked his charms on a few of the caregivers already. It was so lovely to receive this email today. I feel quite certain that Sunny was a therapy dog of some sort before coming to us. Why? Not only because of his calm and gentle demeanor, but because he really sticks close to one person and follows them around. He watches my every move, if I go upstairs so does he. He comes with
me practically everywhere. He responses to hugs, pets, and affection. As he can give it, he also needs to receive it. He is a fascinating animal to be caring for.

This photo on the left was taken in June of 2016, when he was living in a shelter in South Carolina. This is the ONLY data I had on Sunny, when I selected him electronically from the rescue shelter. I knew he was five years old and a border collie mix. But I KNEW nothing about his personality, disposition, or behaviors. Yet when I saw this photo, I saw something in his eyes that caught my attention. To me, he looked smart and loving. I was RIGHT on both accounts! But it was risky to rescue a dog sight unseen. Fortunately the rescue shelter here in DC gives you a trial week to see if it is the right match for your family. As soon as Sunny saw me enter the room of his foster family's home last September, he walked right up to me and took to me immediately and then sat in Peter's lap. So I think he understood he had found his forever home. 

June 20, 2017

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 --- Mattie died 405 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2004. Mattie was two years old and you can see he had a sense of humor. The yellow glasses he was wearing, and upside down at that, were the glasses that went to his toy, Mr. Potato Head. Mattie thought if the potato could wear the glasses then so could he. Mattie and I were good at being zany together. If I started it, he would play right along. 

Quote of the day: The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole,but true beauty in a Woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she knows. ~ Audrey Hepburn

As Sunny and I were walking today, I saw a truck backing up into the green space you see in this photo. This park is near our home and since I can remember, I have never ventured into this park to sit on a bench. You can't! The benches are always filled with homeless people. Though this park is run by the National Park Service, this park is the meeting ground of homeless people by day and who knows what at night. At times the grouping of homeless people has gotten out of hand with tents and BBQ's, which can be dangerous. As this group caused a fire. But my major issue is the graffiti that shows up. It was the worst I have ever seen it. I reported this wall by the park last year and the city came to clean it. But the graffiti practically multiplied this year and it was hateful to see on each of my morning walks with Sunny. 

So in May I reported it once again to the city and sent in photos. The truck backing up today into the park was from the city. I could tell this from a distance, so Sunny and I walked over to thank these men for their service and for beautifying our city. I am not a graffiti fan, I don't even care for it when it is artistic. If it isn't supposed to be there, I don't want to see it, and instead it diminishes the beauty of our Nation's capital. The men I spoke to today told me they cleaned this wall last year too, and are well aware of the fact that once they clean something, people will deface the property again. They
seemed just as frustrated as me. They also mentioned that they cleaned the other two areas I reported in May (These two photos are the other two locations). The other two areas I drive by, so the next time I am in my car, rest assured I will be assessing these walls. 

If you look at the overpass in the first photo I posted, you see that a portion of the wall is covered in black paint. That is the paint that came off the walls from the cleaning. They use chemicals and a power washer to remove the graffiti and while they were doing it, you can see that the bi-product was the paint seeping down the wall. However, even this is better to look at than the wall behind the silver fence completely covered with words, scribbles, and ugliness. 

June 19, 2017

Monday, June 19, 2017

Monday, June 19, 2017

Unlike with typical blog postings, I am starting tonight's with a video rather than a photo. I came across this video yesterday while we were uploading the 2017 Walk video to YouTube. I certainly remember this day in March of 2009, but I forgot that I videotaped that moment. In some ways watching videos is FAR MORE real than a still photo. Which is also why I don't watch Mattie videos on a regular basis. In this particular video Mattie's school counselor came by the hospital and dropped off a pre-birthday card and big balloon to him. I wanted to capture Mattie's reaction to all of this. You can see he was being partly shy about this whole thing but nonetheless you can see Mattie's character shining through. 

Quote of the day: The greatest challenge in life is to be our own person and accept that being different is a blessing and not a curse. A person who knows who they are lives a simple life by eliminating from their orbit anything that does not align with his or her overriding purpose and values. A person must be selective with their time and energy because both elements of life are limited. 
~ Kilroy J. Oldster

Get the feeling for the rain in DC today? It went from light rain to torrential. With the intense heat and humidity we have, such rain is to be expected. I am not a rain person but now that I have Sunny, I really AM NOT a rain person. With a dog, it doesn't matter the weather, you have to walk him. I got used to the winter by purchasing the right coat and gloves for long walks. But it is hard to protect one's self from rain. 
Sunny doesn't like thunder or lightning. In fact it sends him hiding! His most secure thunder place is the walk-in closet in Mattie's bedroom. But today, he settled for going under the dining room table and sitting on Peter's feet! 

When I was growing up, we had a collie named Heidi. Heidi also didn't like thunder and lightning and whenever she heard it she would urinate all over the house. I told Peter we are lucky Sunny only hides!!!

When I returned home today, Sunny was waiting for me right by the front door! Sunny keeps a bead on me at ALL times!!!

Peter captured the pet reunion on the deck today through our front door screen! You would think these two hadn't seen me all day!!! I was only gone a couple of hours, but I had a full escort into the front hallway. 

June 18, 2017

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2007, on Father's Day. That day we ventured to Union Station in DC to pick up a Duck Boat. This is a boat that gives you a tour on land and water. So it is an amphibious vehicle and we thought Mattie would enjoy the experience, especially since he loved vehicles. That day was filled with ups and downs, especially since the lines to get on the Duck Boats was very long. Mattie enjoyed the tour but by the time the tour was over, he had it. He wanted to go home, rather than go out to lunch as we had planned. 

Quote of the day: The heart of a father is the masterpiece of nature. ~ Antoine-Francois Prevost

Peter is quite sure that we put in about 30 hours into designing and creating the 2017 Walk & Family Festival video. So needless to say it was a labor of love. But on holidays like today, when we aren't sure exactly what to do, we do land up working on Mattie Miracle projects. This will be Peter's 8th Father's Day without Mattie. So we are now celebrating more milestones without Mattie in our lives than when he was with us. That is a sobering reality and not one many people can comprehend nor relate to. 

You can view our video at the top of the blog or below, by clicking on the image. I think we did a great job capturing the spirit and energy of the day and the music most definitely enabled the photos to have more significant meaning. Each photo was selected to go with the lyrics in the song, and the tricky part was determining the length of time each photo was on the screen in order for the music and visual to make sense together. 

Mattie Miracle Walk 2017 Video (click on the image)

June 17, 2017

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2006. We took Mattie to Accotink Park in Springfield, VA to see the Cardboard Boat Regatta. Mattie absolutely loved it because people design boats out of cardboard and then they have races to see whose boat survives! It is actually visually pleasing and also humorous. Mattie liked the whole experience so much that he wanted to do this in the future with Peter. Since Mattie was a born builder, I think this race and contest would have been right up his alley. 

Quote of the day: Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will. ~ George Bernard Shaw

I think Shaw's quote tonight is brilliant. Mainly because he captured how our 2017 Walk Video was created today. Peter and I spent over 12 hours designing this video! Why? Because the music we selected this year to highlight our Walk photos is quite meaningful and filled with emotion. So photos needed to be timed just right to it in order for the whole product to turn out well. I can attest to being exhausted tonight. 

But I have been imagining this video for some time now. With regard to the song chosen, there are lyrics in the song that literally say..... let the words fall out! I imagined that words relating to our psychosocial mission would pop up on the computer screen as that lyric was sung. Tonight so much of what I had imagined for a week became a reality. Again, I am fortunate that Peter is very computer savvy. Mattie Miracle doesn't need to hire people or have tech support, because I can always turn to Peter. I will be showcasing the video soon. 

In the midst of working, I walked Sunny throughout the day. Along our walk by the Potomac River, we saw geese with their goslings. 

Of course no walk could be complete without squirrel hunting. Or I should say chasing squirrels right up a tree and then having a staring contest with them!
Sunny is our mental health break. He forces us to stop working and to engage with the world and of course him! Sunny loves to horse around with Peter. This is NOT something he and I do together, as Sunny has a different relationship with each of us. 
Meanwhile Indie was outside on our deck the entire day. We have a screen door where she can walk in and out of at her own will. But she LOVES fresh air, bird watching, and even loves when it rains. She is one cat that appreciates water. 
 In our commons area, which is completely fenced in, Sunny can go off leash. He loves this freedom and running through the ivy. 

Sunny got groomed yesterday! Doesn't he look beautiful!?
More sunny playtime!

June 16, 2017

Friday, June 16, 2017

Friday, June 16, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2007, during our Memorial Day weekend trip to Amish Country in Pennsylvania. We stayed at a Marriott Courtyard Hotel and that morning at breakfast, Mattie met the chef. The chef gave Mattie a paper version of his hat. As you can see Mattie was one happy camper. Mattie loved the whole hotel experience and having a big waffle in the morning for breakfast was a highlight. I am happy there were these memorable moments and that we always made time for adventures with Mattie. As we learned..... you don't get second chances at some things. 

Quote of the day: Champions are not the ones who always win races - champions are the ones who get out there and try. And try harder the next time. And even harder the next time. 'Champion' is a state of mind. They are devoted. They compete to bet themselves as much if not more than they compete to bet others. Champions are not just athletes. ~ Simon Sinek

Today was a licensure board meeting day for me. Which also means it was a grooming day for Sunny. What this translates to is that I am in a meeting just as long as I am in the car. My meeting was four hours today. But since I live in DC and Sunny's grooming is in Alexandria, I literally drive from DC to Alexandria, Back to DC for my meeting, then after the meeting I drive back to Alexandria to pick up Sunny, and then back to DC to head home. It is an exhausting day! Mind you I have to be fully engaged and on in these meetings because we are talking about laws, ethical violations, and decisions that impact the health and livelihood of people. 

When I got home, I found that Peter sent me an intriguing email. It had a 15 minute video attached to it and Peter said.... I think you will find this interesting! Boy was he correct. Once you move passed the one sided dialogue of this video, the content that this motivational speaker was addressing caught my attention. Why? Because I have observed exactly what he was talking about in Millennials.... which is for the most part they are entitled, narcissistic, self-interested, unfocused, and lazy. Keep in mind that a Millennial is a person born in 1984 or after. 

Now I am quite sure every previous generation had less than flattering remarks and insights about successive generations, yet I think there are very tangible differences in Millennials, which in part are very much explained by the environment in which they have been raised. This speaker goes on to highlight FOUR missing pieces in their development that helps to explain why they are UNHAPPY. If you doubt Millennials are unhappy, then I suggest you have a dialogue with any teacher or school administrator. Certainly in the therapeutic world we know that these teens and young adults are turning more toward alcohol and drugs than ever before and the level of depression and suicide in this age group is high. 

He describes the four missing pieces for Millennials as...... parenting, technology, impatience, and the environment. For example, he cites failed parenting strategies contributing to this overall low self-esteem and unhappiness that Millennials report. Parents have conditioned their children into thinking they are special and they can have anything they want in life just because they want it! Parents will go so far as to write, call, and speak to school administrators if their children are having difficulties with a teacher. In many cases, schools concede and change grades to appease parents. But what is the ultimate lesson learned here? Clearly not that working hard and even struggling with something can lead to success, deeper appreciation, and an inner feeling of satisfaction about one's self. 

But here's the problem. When Millennials are left to function in the real world, they begin to see that they really aren't special, that mom can't get them a promotion, and you get no rewards or special mentions for coming in last. This disconnect from how they were raised produces a shattered self-image. 

His discussion of technology was absolutely brilliant. He discusses what I have always felt about Facebook. Which is why I truly detest it! People report things on Facebook which depict happiness and that life is amazing! Reporting sad things and the reality usually produces MUCH FEWER "likes." So instead what you are seeing is a skewed view of people and the world. Which is one of the reasons I try to stay off Facebook. I find its superficial reality depressing. Yet interestingly enough studies have shown that the more time one spends on Facebook, the higher correlation with depression. 

But disengaging from technology isn't so simple and there is a biological explanation for it! Engagement with social media and our cell phones, releases dopamine. Which makes you feel good. This is the same chemical that makes us feel good when we smoke, drink and gamble. Just like smoking, drinking, and gambling, checking one's electronic devises is also an addictive and numbing behavior. If you doubt this, just think about the excited feeling your phone alerts you that you received a text message or someone likes your comment posted on Facebook. 

Of course the problem with this reliance on technology is that it becomes easier to turn to technology to manage stress than to talk to a human, and the gratification one gets from social media stimulates the production of dopamine. So it becomes a vicious cycle that is hard wired in the brain. End result though is a lack of deeply formed and meaningful relationships. Millennials haven't had the opportunity to develop verbal communication skills and the beauty of investing in the lives of others. 

I encourage you to watch this video, if this topic interests you. It does help give a meaningful explanation to a generation that is displaying lower self esteem, a lack of coping mechanisms, and a desire to have everything done instantaneously. However, some things like job satisfaction and deep connections with others are NOT things that can be found in an Apple App! Ideas happen and innovation occurs when observing and engaging with the real world not a computer!

The 15 minute video about the Millennial Question:

June 15, 2017

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Tonight''s picture was taken in June of 2007. We took Mattie to Pennsylvania for Memorial Day weekend. We had certain activities planned, but this one was something we just found while driving from one place to another. Literally in the middle of a farm field was this GIGANTIC trampoline. However, it wasn't high off the ground like most trampolines. This one was literally part of the ground. We pulled the car over to check it out and as you can see Mattie began running around on it and jumping. They say some of the best activities are unscripted ones. I would say that was the case here. 

Quote of the day: Empathy is the only human superpower - it can shrink distance, cut through social and power hierarchies, transcend differences, and provoke political and social change.Elizabeth Thomas

I am proud to announce that Mattie Miracle has secured its 15 endorser of the Psychosocial Standards of Care for Children with Cancer and Their Families. Our new endorser this week is the St. Baldrick's Foundation. The St. Baldrick's Foundation is the largest nongovernmental funder of childhood cancer research grants, funding more than $200 million since 2005 to support the most promising childhood cancer research. As a volunteer-powered organization, St. Baldrick's empowers its supporters to raise funds through various fundraising platforms and advocate for childhood cancer issues through its Speak Up For Kids Cancer network. 

Here is a listing of our 15 endorsers to date:

  • American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP)
  • American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO)
  • American Psychological Association's Society of Pediatric Psychology (SPP - Division 54)
  • American Psychosocial Oncology Society (APOS)
  • Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Educational Specialists (APHOES)
  • Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses (APHON)
  • Association for Pediatric Oncology Social Workers (APOSW)
  • American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology (ASPHO)
  • B+ Foundation
  • Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology (CAPO)
  • Cancer Support Community
  • Children's Cause for Cancer Advocacy (CCCA)
  • Children's Oncology Group (COG)
  • National Children's Cancer Society
  • St. Baldrick's Foundation

To read the press release on St. Baldrick's Foundation Endorses Psychosocial Standards of Care for Children with Cancer and their Families as Envisioned by The Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation, click the link below:

Press Release

June 14, 2017

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2006. It was during Memorial Day Weekend. We took a weekend trip to Pennsylvania Dutch Country and toured the farms, went on Amish wagon rides, and also went to Sesame Street Place.  Mattie loved the whole experience and staying at a hotel. While in the hotel room, Mattie took my camera and photographed his cute feet! Which is what you are seeing tonight. 

Quote of the day: When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That's when you can get more creative in solving problems. ~ Stephen Covey

For the past several days, I have talked to various people who are pining over the fact that their child is graduating from high school and moving onto college. I am sure if Mattie were still alive, I would eventually fall into this category of parents. But since I am not afforded this opportunity because my child is permanently gone, I definitely have a different take and perspective on high school graduation. 

For the most part, I keep my thoughts to myself, because I know when someone is expressing concern and pain, adding your pain to the mix is NOT helpful. But while listening, I internally am chuckling. Chuckling because as moms tell me their feelings, raw emotions, and concerns about these pending changes to their family, I am internally pausing and wondering..... do these people know who they are talking to???? If anyone gets saying good-bye to one's child.... THAT'S ME! The clear and direct difference however, is my child won't be graduating, won't be going to college, and has NO future. 

However, with that said, I always believe (unless having a BAD day and feel threatened) in communicating with empathy. If you want to be able to connect deeply with someone, that means you need to listen, process, and feel what they are saying. Without doing all these things, relationships are meaningless. Of course listening empathetically can be tiring and perhaps one-sided. Nonetheless, it is very rewarding to see people's faces when they realize they are being understood, that you think their feelings are valid, and yet at the same time try to reframe their thinking about a situation in a more positive light. If no positive light can be found, then the hope is that tomorrow one will feel differently, if not, the next day, etc! 

June 13, 2017

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Tuesday, June 13, 2017 -- Mattie died 404 weeks ago today. 

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2008. Only weeks after Mattie completed kindergarten. Sitting next to him was his "girlfriend" Charlotte. The same girl he proposed to in our car and gave her a plastic ring! They brought out the best in each other. Though Charlotte is 15 years old, she is very thoughtful with Mattie Miracle and is always a significant teen fundraiser each year at our Walk. It was Charlotte's family that created the Mattie J. Brown Scholarship Fund at Mattie's school, so that his legacy would always live on. To me this scholarship doesn't only memorialize Mattie, but it is a constant reminder to me of the beautiful friendship these two children had with one another. 

Quote of the day: Compassion for animals is intimately associated with goodness of character, and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man. ~ Arthur Schopenhauer


Sunny had a vet appointment today. This is his third one with this doctor since we adopted him last September. When we adopted Indie and Sunny, we changed veterinarian practices. I liked our former vet but she was moving out of the area and when I asked her who I should go to, she recommended this other practice. It is always challenging to start with a new practice, but I really like Sunny and Indie's doctor. She is very personable, loves animals, and has a good rapport with them. Sunny needed vaccines and blood work today and though these aren't fun things to do, she did them effortlessly with Sunny. I would describe Sunny as a good and compliant patient. At least once he was in the exam room. In the waiting room, he was VERY anxious and whining. He seemed VERY bothered that a cat was in a cage! He wanted this cat out and about. It was fascinating to watch, as he kept walking over to the cat's cage to check on her. 

Many dogs came into the waiting room too, and each one of them was intrigued by Sunny. Sunny is like a grand ambassador and gets along with ALL dogs. Feisty ones, aggressive ones, and of course easy going ones. Sunny greeted every dog and then continued his ambassador tour right outside the building where the vet is located. I brought two masses to the attention of the vet today. I believe in being proactive about issues and health. Now the vet could have dismissed me, but she examined the mass on his eye lid and the one on his hind leg. She feels confident they are benign tumors, but wants them both removed in the Fall when he gets his teeth cleaned. She feels giving him anesthesia once will be better for him rather than multiple times. Some vets would have taken the wait and see approach with these masses, but I like her conservative approach and her desire to work with facts about the issue. She says that masses on the eye lid usually continue to grow and if it gets larger, she won't be able to remove the mass without it affecting his ability to close his eye. NO THANK YOU! It is coming out. 

June 12, 2017

Monday, June 12, 2017

Monday, June 12, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2009. Mattie was most likely coming in for an admission to the PICU. I can tell because if he were leaving the hospital, he most likely would have been in pajamas. That was Mattie's clothes of choice in the hospital. Naturally I wasn't going to fight him on that!

Pictured with Mattie in the front row from left to right is Tricia and Kathleen. Both outstanding HEM/ONC nurses. Though Tricia has been adopted into our family in a way. Standing next to me is Bernadette, who was a nurse tech on the floor. The only nurse tech I actually liked. Not all techs are created equal and as Mattie's issues got more pronounced, only nurses worked with him. Which I appreciated!

Quote of the day: Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet. ~ Colette

This morning, Indie was the first to come home. She was thrilled and they love her at the vet. They think she is shy but very lovable. Indie has spent the ENTIRE day outside sitting on our deck! Mind you it is in the upper 90s today, with high humidity. She isn't affected at all. 

Meanwhile, this was Sunny's report card from Dogtopia. I love that I received text messages from Dogtopia daily, that I could see Sunny for myself each day on their webcam, and when I pick him up, I get a little report card about his week. 

When Sunny got home, I took him for a three mile walk around the Potomac River. It was broiling outside and when he came back home he literally passed out under the air conditioning vent for two hours!
Indie was inside and outside! She has readjusted to being home and is eating up a storm!

Peter went with me today when I picked up Sunny. After we picked him up, I had to visit Mattie Miracle's PO Box, which isn't far from Dogtopia. When I got out of the car to go into the Post Office, Peter captured Sunny's reaction to my departure! It was a hoot for me to see.


June 11, 2017

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2005. This was Mattie's third visit to the Outer Banks, and actually our last time there. Peter and I did not return to the Outer Banks until 2014 for the first time. As you can see Mattie was having a good time with Peter outside on the deck of the house we rented. What a great smile! 

Quote of the day: Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else. ~ Lawrence Block

My joke with Peter is that the condo we rented is much cleaner now after we stayed there for a week. When we first entered the property there was a horrid smell. The smell is gone, just in time for the next guests. Little do they know the work we did. I should also let you know that I complained so much that the owner of the condo purchased a new washing machine while we were there and had it delivered during our stay. 
The condo unit radiates old, tired, and dark. We are quite sure they haven't upgraded anything for decades. The on-line photos when we booked this unit looked much better than this. The last condo we rented in the Outer Banks in 2014, was absolutely fine, updated and clean. 
When we arrived at this condo last week, all of the shades were closed. The condo had NO light coming into it. Clearly you see we changed that around. 
Thankfully on good weather days, we spent a lot of time on the deck which had a magnificent view of the ocean. It was fun people and dog watching. Not to mention dolphin and moon watching as well. 
Our view. Every morning and at dusk, we saw dolphins! Except for the days it was raining and the waves were about 15 feet tall and crashing onto the shore. 
The beauty of the Outer Banks. The beaches are never packed with people and for the most part, beach goers are families. I can't tell you how many store owners I talked to that all fell in love with the Outer Banks and chose to retire here. I certainly get that in the spring and summer months. But in reality they like the peaceful seclusion that the winters also have to offer. 
Before we headed home this morning, we stopped at Miller's. Miller's is a local restaurant that has been on the beach since the 1970's serving breakfast. Breakfast is always very fresh and the service is always very friendly and helpful. 
That is where the peace ended! Our trip home was bordering on horrific! Traffic upon traffic. What should have taken 5 hours, took over 7 hours. Toward the end of the trip we decided to drive on the toll portion of the road to get away from the masses of cars. As I told Peter, the toll was worth the journey. 
Some photos of Mattie Moon from the beach! This was Friday night's red moon. 
A beauty!
This was the moon on Saturday night. 
Even the Atlantic was all a glow in red. 

As I always do, here is a listing of the Restaurants we dined at:
Monday: Roadside Grill (excellent food)
Tuesday: Watermen's in Waves, NC (forget it!)
Wednesday: Kimball's Kitchen (wonderful and right on the sound)
Thursday: Mulligan's (food is decent but not a repeater)
Friday: Ocean Boulevard (excellent food)
Saturday: Avenue Waterfront Grille and Lost Colony (both had good food)

June 10, 2017

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2005. We took Mattie to the Elizabethan Garden in Manteo, NC. If you look closely, Mattie had something in his hand. I bet it was a penny that I gave him to throw into the fountain. We always kept Mattie busy and stimulated, as he had an inordinate amount of energy and brain power, that needed positive outlets to be expended!

Quote of the day: Traveling tends to magnify all human emotions. ~ Peter Hoeg

This is our view from the deck this morning. The trifecta.... kayak, dolphin and pelicans. 
We went to visit the Elizabethan Gardens today. The same gardens in which tonight's photo of Mattie was taken. Fanciful and elaborate gardens were kept to entertain Queen Elizabeth I during her reign. This garden was created as a living memorial to the time when Sir Walter Raleigh’s lost colonists lived in this very place over 400 years ago. 

In 1950, Mrs. Charles Cannon, wife of the North Carolina philanthropist; Mrs. Inglis Fletcher, a North Carolinian and noted historian and author; and Sir Evelyn Wrench, Founder of the English Speaking Union, and Lady Wrench, were visiting Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and The Lost Colony outdoor drama on Roanoke Island. The idea came to them to ask The Garden Club of North Carolina, a non-profit organization of 17,000 women, to sponsor a two-acre garden on a ten-acre tract adjoining Fort Raleigh National Park. It was their thinking that the creation of a cultural attraction such as a garden would enhance the value of this area as a permanent memorial to Sir Walter Raleigh’s lost colonists. This Garden grown since its creation in 1950, and it a charming and historic place for beauty and tranquility. 

Colorful flowers and foliage surround you.
There are at least three fountains within these Gardens. Something Mattie always gravitated to. 
This is a flower that gets many visitors' attention..... it is the snowcap hydrangea. It looks flat like a snowflake, not round like your typical round shaped flowering hydrangea. 
This is a towering bronze statue of Queen Elizabeth I, of whom these gardens are named and inspired by. 
The beauty of the gardens, filled with Italian masterpieces. Italians are proud of their classical art, especially the carved marble statues and ornamentals in their historic areas. Several decades ago, Mrs. Mildred Howard astonished Italians with photos of their beautiful statues tucked within the lush green landscape of a North Carolina sound-side garden. Howard served as board chair of the Manteo, NC attraction in 1957 and 1964 and used a visit abroad to pursue her curiosities. The Italian historians she consulted were unaware these treasures had been relocated to America.
 In 1953 The Elizabethan Gardens received several museum-quality Italian statues including a fountain with a pool, wellhead, sundial, birdbaths, stone steps and benches. They were a gift from the Whitney family estate. Gilded-age socialite and famed architectural designer Stanford White imported the items from Pompeii in 1906 for the family as a showcase for their Greenwood Estate in Thomasville Georgia.

The Gardens are filled with beautiful hydrangeas. 
After the Gardens, we drove into the town of Manteo. It is a charming little town on the water. The town is filled with shops and restaurants. All the shops feature items either made in North Carolina or the United States. 
One of the charming streets of Manteo. 
It's a boaters paradise in Manteo. No body is running around, glued to their phone, and disengaged. People seem to enjoy life better than we do in our major cities. 
Right in front of this store front, was this priceless calico cat. 

After two weeks of posting photos of the Mattie Miracle Walk, I can say that tonight concludes the photos. 

Two days before the Walk I was contacted by Sarah Kelly, who is a clothing vendor with LuLu Roe. She asked if she could showcase her items at the Walk. I agreed to have her attend and she and her husband had a great time. Both lost their first spouse to cancer, so I think our Mattie Miracle mission has meaning to them.

For the first time, we had a carnival style photo booth at the Walk. People could go in the booth, put on costumes, and take photos. The nice part, was that a tangible keepsake photo was provided to participants. 
This is a picture of a picture, but it gives you an idea of the keepsake people went home with. Featured in this photo is Morganne (the Mattie Miracle funded child life specialist at Georgetown University Hospital) and Jane (our philanthropy contact at the Hospital).