Mattie Miracle 9th Annual Walk & Family Festival -- Raised over $97,000

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

August 1, 2017

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Tuesday, August 1, 2017 -- Mattie died 411 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2008, during Mattie's first month of chemotherapy. On the second floor of the hospital was an outdoor courtyard. A place we used to escape to during pleasant days. If Mattie was receiving hydration (which was basically all the time!!), we would roll him outside with his IV in tow. We were very lucky that Mattie's nurses understood the importance of getting fresh air and seeing the outside world. They would come down an check on him periodically while we were outside. One of the places Mattie used to visit in the courtyard was the stone garden near the medical library. Mattie was a collector of objects in nature prior to cancer, but once cancer impacted his life, we did not go on nature walks anymore, because they were impossible to do in a wheelchair. Yet throughout Mattie's treatment we went to this rock garden. To this day, we still have a LARGE rock Mattie took from this garden. It is our front door stop during warm weather months! As you can see in this photo, Mattie was showing rocks to his cousin Will who came down from Boston to visit us.  

Quote of the day: Approximately 18% of Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder and the rate of youth depression increased from 8.5% in 2011 to over 11.1% in 2014. ~ Journal of Pediatrics

Peter sent me an article yesterday entitled, The Therapy Robot that Lives in Facebook Messenger wants to Treat your Anxiety.  I know he sent it to me to see how I would react. I would say I had a whole range of emotions as I was reading this article. I tried to put my mental health professional hat aside, and evaluate what I was reading as a mom who saw Mattie struggle with anxiety during cancer treatment. Not to mention even for myself, contending with all sorts of issues after died died. During Mattie's battle with cancer, my cell phone became a vital part of my life, it was like a fifth appendage in a way. My lifeline to information and communication with others. As Mattie got sicker, he wanted to hear NO talking!! Therefore, all my dialogues with people (EVEN PETER) were through written messages on the phone. I am mentioning this because I know FIRST HAND how therapeutic written messages can be. BUT, the one caveat is I knew that at the other end of my message was a LIVE human recipient. I wasn't communicating with a computer, nor was I getting a formulaic response back. 

Dr. Alison Darcy, a former adjunct professor at Duke University, left her academic position to become the founder and CEO of her own company, Woebot Labs, Inc. Keep in mind she is a clinical psychologist and is well aware of the growing mental health epidemic in our country and most certainly with young people in general. She is quite upfront about the fact that Woebot is not therapy, nor should take the place of a skilled professional. 

So what is Woebot? It is a "digital therapist." It was crafted by Stanford engineers with a touch of artificial intelligence magic to be “your charming robot friend who is ready to listen, 24/7.” In the article, Darcy stated that she "believes the chirpy chatbot is useful for different problems, be it breakups, death, or illness, but it was originally built for two issues plaguing American society, and specifically high school and college students: anxiety and depression. Woebot ushers users through a process of learning about oneself and how one’s thinking can potentially be biased, skewed, and undermining one’s health. But you ultimately have to do all the work and all the learning yourself.” 

Originally when created a Woebot user would receive messages every other day, but recipients really demanded daily touch points, and the company is accommodating. In fact, there is a cost to using Woebot..... $12 per week or $39 per month following a two-week trial, roughly (as the company mentions) 5% of the cost of regular therapy sessions. If you aren't thinking this already, then I will state it..... this form of support appeals to a certain demographic (18-35 year olds). Which to me makes sense, since millenials grew up in the technology/internet age and turn to technology for education, communication, and information. So Woebot in a way is a logical next step for some, and clearly maybe a tool to screen some individuals. I can appreciate that and do understand that with the change in times (and cost associated with care), alternatives need to embraced. 

Now with that said, from a personal standpoint, would I turn to a device that has NO HUMAN interaction/intervention capability for support with medical or mental health concerns? The resounding answer is NO. The problem or BEAUTY of human dynamics and behavior is that we can be unpredictable. Also how people perceive or deal with the same issue varies greatly and therefore there can NEVER be a standardized one size fits all response to an issue. That is where the art of therapy or intervention comes in! A computer maybe able to retrieve a profile on you, study your responses over time, and therefore spit out likely responses to you, but again, this is very black or white thinking and with humans there are many shades of grey. I can't possibly imagine Woebot would be able to help me during Mattie's battle with cancer, much less help me now dealing with life long grief. In fact, I would take this one step further, I find FEW mental health providers who are skilled enough to manage these issues, because childhood cancer is not an area one is well versed in unless personally going through it. I would also lump grief into this category as well. Not all grief is the same, regardless of how we are trained at the university level not to judge or compare losses. So if we are at a loss for quality clinicians in our communities (and as a Foundation leader, I hear this concern expressed by many parent of children with cancer) to handle these tough life and death issues, how on earth can Woebot help us? 

At the end of the day, it is the ties we develop with real human beings that produce empathy, understanding, and change. After all, if change in thinking was so easy to obtain on-line, then the mental health crisis would be abating. But it isn't the case. I would propose that quite the opposite is happening, computers make us turn inwards and as such, we are losing the art form of verbal communication and discussing issues and problems with friends and family. 

I encourage you to read the article for yourself:

1 comment:

Margy Jist said...

Vicki, I am glad to know Mattie had the rock area outside the hospital when his nature walks ended. It was by no means the same but the fact that he chose a rock that you still have, says a lot. Mattie's picture, one month into the Ray shows a sadness that reality of his now life was creeping into his world. He is such a beautiful child even without a smile. But the missing smile is not what I noticed but rather the look in his eyes. I am an eye watcher and many times. A smiling child in treatment did not tell how they were on any level, physical or emotionally but often their eyes would. I watched the eyes of parents too.

I want to read the article, before I comment on the other half of you blog! However, we all need the person or two who is willing to listen to our life hurts that lead to anxiety or depression. Without this, we wander unable to rid ourselves of nameless dread. Don't see how anyone
Could find the needed help without talking