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

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


TODAY'S BLOG FOCUSES ON THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF SUNNY.......

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.

Sunny:
https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=503836166614109&id=100009631901344

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)