Mattie Miracle 10th Anniversary Walk was an $119,000 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

December 2, 2017

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2007. It was the photo I featured on our Christmas cards that year. Today, our Facebook friend, Tim, transformed the photo into this lovely Christmas ornament. An absolutely charming Christmas memento. The beauty of all of this is we do not give the photos to Tim, he finds them on our blog and then surprises us with these electronic gifts. 



Quote of the day: One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done. Madame Curie



It was a full day of Foundation work today. Not unlike most of our weekends. If you look closely you can see Indie trying to participate! Just to get our mass mailing out next week, we have been working on components of this campaign for two months now. Everything from ordering special Mattie Miracle gifts for donors to colorful envelopes. The whole thing is a process that can't be put together in a matter of days.
While I have been working on updating our mailing database, Peter has been doing assembly. Which is a hard and laborious task. 

I appreciate all the help though, as I am now in day 7 of an intense migraine. I don't know a day without a headache, as I have had one daily for 16 years. But when the intensity of pain in constant for days, I always wonder..... will it always be like this?

December 1, 2017

Friday, December 1, 2017

Friday, December 1, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2008, about five days after Mattie's second limb salvaging surgery. Because Mattie had a 12 hour surgery, they wanted him to work his lungs to remove any possible fluid build up from lying flat and being under anesthesia. Mattie did not like the standard pulmonary breathing exercises. So instead, we had to make his exercises fun and turn it into a game. One of the ways we did this was with straws! One of Mattie's friends brought us a wild straw. It basically was like glasses made out of straws and when you sucked into the straw you could see the fluid fill up around the glasses. Mattie wanted me to try them first, before he would attempt this. Which was what this photo was illustrating.  This was not atypical for Mattie, as I was the guinea pig for most of his physical and occupational therapy exercises. I always did them first!


Quote of the day: Grief is not as heavy as guilt, but it takes more away from you. ~ Veronica Roth,


It was another full day or running around. One of my chores today involved going to Mattie Miracle's post office. Every year before we do our mass mailing, I check in with the post office, to prepare them for our 500 envelopes. Since I know they prefer bulk mail delivered to them a certain way, I like to follow the process. With each annual fund that we do, I get a little smarter. 

This year, I bought our holiday stamps in October. Yes October! This way, I can get 500 stamps easily! In October people are not thinking about holiday cards yet, so there is no demand on stamps. I have also learned that before I put a stamp on our envelopes, I bring in a sample envelope to the post office to weigh it and confirm the amount of postage needed. Ideally I would love our envelope with our small gift taking just one stamp! Fortunately I had the where with all to take a sample with me today. 


I thought one stamp would suffice on this year's annual fund envelopes, but THANKFULLY I checked. Because we needed 21 cents more this year. I can't imagine how I would have felt mailing out 500 envelopes, to only find them all returned because of insufficient postage. Not only the labor and effort would have been lost, but we would have also been out the cost of a forever stamp. The post office was great today, as they really weighed this sample envelope multiple times in hoping that one stamp would suffice. But no luck! Any case, I view this as a crisis averted. 

In the midst of running around and doing chores with an continued migraine, I could see Christmas trees and decorations, and Christmas music was playing everywhere. In theory I like Christmas, but that is where it ends. To me the festivities of Christmas are for children, and therefore without Mattie, I am left to wonder how the holiday applies to me? In my heart it doesn't, which is why I have been closed off to Christmas for years. I am not sure why my friends thought I decorated for Christmas. But I haven't decorated our home for Christmas since 2007. This is when Christmas ended for me. I may go through the motions of the holidays, but at the end of the day, I really do not buy gifts, exchange gifts, attend holiday parties, and my list of NOT'S is much larger than my lists of SHOULD'S!   

November 30, 2017

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2008. Mattie was in his fourth month of treatment and as you can see his art therapist printed out a LARGE picture of a roach. Delightful no? Mattie loved to watch my reaction whenever he brought up the subject of roaches. Because of my disgust with these creatures, this intrigued Mattie and caused him to want to know more. Learning more meant painting a picture of a roach, creating roaches out of model magic and the list went on. Don't you just love that devilish smile Mattie had here as he was teasing me with this roach?


Quote of the day: To ease another’s heartache is to forget one’s own. ~ Abraham Lincoln


I am losing track of the number of days I have had a migraine this week. All I know is it is one day too long. Despite feeling awful, I keep plugging away. Mainly because with my headaches, if I give in, I would have a lot of down days.

This fire orange colored plant was near where I parked my car today. I literally had to stop and snap a photo of it, because to me it screamed out Mattie Miracle. I saw this plant right outside MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. I took that as a sign. 

I went to the Hospital to push our snack and item cart around the pediatric in-patient units. I try to do this at least once a month. I do this for various reasons, but the top reason is to better understand how the cart is meeting its intended purpose. Which is to provide access to free treats and snacks to families caring for a child in the hospital, so that parents do not have to leave their child's bedside to meet their own needs. 

Today was a very busy day for the snack cart. In several cases, children themselves were allowed to pick items from the cart, and you could see their smiles and excitement. Several families I interacted with only spoke Spanish, but some things are communicated universally. I had many parents thank me and told me how grateful they are for the cart. I even had nurses, who I don't know, telling me what a difference the cart is making. I love unsolicited feedback and one nurse told me she wished her patients were as happy to see her as they are the cart. Cute! That made me laugh. So despite a bad headache, I sucked it up, because I know what life is like living in a hospital setting, and in comparison my migraine is nothing. 

November 29, 2017

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2008. Mattie was in the hospital recovering from his second limb salvaging surgery. It was practically impossible for him to move since three out of his four limbs were operated on, bandaged, and attached to all sorts of monitors. Yet with Mattie's one free leg, who was nicknamed George (for Curious George), he was able to play on the computer. Mattie used George and his left foot like an arm and hand. It was truly remarkable to watch him in motion. Given the severity of his issues and the pain he was in, I still don't know how Mattie managed each and every day. Though I remember someone once telling me...... he manages because of you (me)! A lot of it was Mattie, but it does help to have solid caregivers. 


Quote of the day: Emotions come and go and can't be controlled so there's no reason to worry about them. That in the end, people should be judged by their actions since in the end it was actions that defined everyone. ~ Nicholas Sparks



We were contacted today by Curetoday, who has learned about Mattie Miracle and wants to do an article that features the life of Mattie and our mission and work. I was very pleased to hear this, since we get their magazine and value the publication. 

The CURE magazine, is the indispensable guide to every stage of the cancer experience. With nearly 1 million readers, CURE is the largest consumer publication in the United States focused entirely on cancer, with broad distribution to cancer patients, cancer centers and advocacy groups. CURE also include its online resource, curetoday.com. 

I can't believe it is almost December. I have no idea where the Fall went. Though I must admit the candy drive is a major feat, what I find is there is never any down time to recover because our annual fund mailing has to get out ASAP. So I feel like I am always racing from one activity to another, and of course once we hit the beginning of the new year, my focus turns to fundraising and the Walk. It truly is a vicious cycle running a non-profit and makes it hard to balance other things that pop up in life like caregiving. I am signing off for tonight because on top of all of this I am balancing a major migraine. May tomorrow be a better day. Though I said that yesterday and unfortunately today has been a repeat of yesterday!  

November 28, 2017

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Tuesday, November 28, 2017 -- Mattie died 428 weeks ago today. 

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2007. Mattie went to Peter's office for a visit. As you can see Mattie helped himself to the markers on Peter's dry erase board and started creating! Typical of Mattie he chose to draw something with wheels. But the tell tale Mattie symbol integrated into all of his art pieces was the SUN! He added it unsolicited to drawings and paintings. 



Quote of the day: I believe that most caregivers find that they inherit a situation where they just kind of move into caregiving. It's not a conscious decision for most caregivers, and they are ultimately left with the responsibility of working while still trying to be the caregiver, the provider, and the nurturer. ~ Sharon Law Tucker


The week prior to Thanksgiving, Peter and I took on the unexpected role of a caregiver for our neighbor. Our neighbor took a serious fall and was in the hospital for two weeks. When released from the hospital, she came home with a leg and arm cast, and no family geographically close to assist her. We are now moving into week two of this caregiving experience and I have several observations. 

First I must note to my readers that caregiving is not a new topic for me. In 2003, I completed and successfully defended my dissertation. The title of my dissertation was The relationship among the use and non-use of eldercare services, self -efficacy, and job satisfaction on the perceived stress of employed caregivers of older adults. You can see my dissertation by Clicking on this text. In fact when I entered my doctoral program, I knew my research focus would be on family caregiving. Why? Because when I was in college my maternal grandmother (who lived with me and my parents as I was growing up) suffered a massive stroke leaving her partially paralyzed, having swallowing issues, and a whole host of other side effects.  My mom became my grandmother's primary caregiver and from this experience I learned first hand the intense stresses of caregiving. So much so that my mom landed up in the hospital critically ill for weeks because she was so depleted from caregiving. This experience changed my perspective on life so much so that my specialty in the mental health field became gerontology with the focus on caregiver stress. Mind you this was when I was in my twenties. 

I of course had no idea that later in life, I would once again be involved with family caregiving, this time for an unsuspected person...... my seven year old son. But it did not end there. After losing Mattie, I became intensely involved in the care of my friend's parents until they both died. So besides understanding the art of caregiving from a research and clinical stand point, I have intense personal experience with the subject matter. I not only have heard about the stresses from my research subjects, but I have lived and breathed these stresses. 

So who are family caregivers? They are relatives, friends, or neighbors who provide assistance related to an underlying physical or mental disability but who are unpaid for those services. 
A recent study says that 26.5% of all American adults today are family caregivers. The value of the voluntary, "unpaid" caregiving service provided by caregivers was estimated at $310 billion in 2006 — almost twice as much as was actually spent on home care and nursing services combined. By 2009, about 61.6 million caregivers were providing "unpaid" care at a value that had increased to an estimated $450 billion. Family caregivers provide an average of 20 hours of care per week.

Peter and I spend at least 14 to 16 hours a week meeting the needs of our neighbor. Think about it, if you are in an arm and leg cast, it is very hard to cook, clean your home or yourself, grocery shop, or do laundry. So we have taken on all of these necessary tasks. But here is my number one observation I have made........

When you are ill, you quickly learn who your friends are. I learned this first hand when Mattie was battling cancer. People who I thought I was close to, and would step up to offer support, really backed away. Of course my situation was much more intense than the issue my neighbor is facing. However, there is a commonality. Caregiving scares people away..... as the time commitment, energy, and financial expenditures maybe more than friends are willing to take on. 

At the end of the day, I feel as if Mattie trained Peter and me quite well. We understand how medical systems operate, we know who the gate keepers are, how to work the system, and demand things to get what is needed. What a terrible way to develop such skills, but I find people turn to us in medical crises because unfortunately we can size up and assess what is needed right away, which is half the battle. My neighbor may not be aware of this, but since we have removed a lot of her daily stresses, she can focus on healing. Which is the key in this case to recovery. 

November 27, 2017

Monday, November 27, 2017

Monday, November 27, 2017

Tonight picture was taken in November of 2005. We took Mattie to Great Falls. If you look closely, the backdrop in the photo was the water and falls. Mattie loved the freedom this park provided with its wide open spaces! I think Mattie would be very happy to know that Sunny also enjoys this park. 


Quote of the day: Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud. ~ Maya Angelou



I had lunch with my friend Christine today. Christine's son, Campbell, and Mattie were the closest of friends in kindergarten. These two boys were very bright and creative and had no trouble with imaginative play. Meaning they did not need electronics/technology to have a good time playing with each other. Their fun came from within. Naturally as Mattie played with Campbell, I had the opportunity to make a friend as well. That was 11 years ago, and Christine is still involved in our lives as a steadfast supporter and she also runs our registration tent at our annual walks. Which is a huge job. 

When Mattie died, Christine and my friend Ellen gave me two plants. Each plant was tiny back in 2009. Not even knee height. I took a photo of the two plants for Christine to see today. That wispy plant in the corner is a Dracaena. That was one of the plants Christine gave me. Look how tall it is now!!! Note that I have also snipped many branches off this tree and started baby plants from this mother plant. 


The second plant Christine gave me was a rubber fig. It is the big tall leafy plant in the corner. We have nicknamed this plant, Jack. Like Jack in the Beanstalk. Jack actually was ceiling height, but we cut it in half over the summer. Clearly that inspired it to leaf out more. But again, when I received this plant it wasn't even knee high!

I received two gifts today. Not physical gifts, but verbal ones. Which to me are the best kinds of gifts! At lunch Christine was telling me about her older son's wedding. While at the wedding, Abba's Dancing Queen started playing. Christine said that her son told her he couldn't dance to this song, because all he could think of when hearing it was Mattie. Dancing Queen was the song Mattie played while doing physical therapy at the hospital. Which is why Mattie Miracle starts every Foundation Walk with Dancing Queen. I was very touched to hear what an impact Mattie's life and story has had on this young man. Moms who lost a child to cancer really need to hear these kinds of stories and messages, otherwise it is very easy to think that no one remembers or cares. 

This evening, I received an email from another friend of mine. She wanted me to know that she went back to read the blog from 2008, when Mattie was in treatment. She wanted me to know that my words were poignant and eloquent. So much so that my words and experiences give her insights as she helps and supports other parents like me. That to me is the ultimate gift to hear, that my words have meaning and purpose. Every writer wants to know that his/her words deliver a gift! The gift isn't always sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes the gift is opening up new ways of thinking, offering different perspectives, and hopefully allowing our minds and hearts to be transformed so that we can have more authentic connections with others in our lives. Needless to say, I received two unexpected gifts today and both are cherished, because at the end of the day they circle back to Mattie. Which was and continues to be my life's mission.... to raise Mattie and to nurture and preserve his memory. 

November 26, 2017

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2004. Every August we took Mattie to Los Angeles to visit my parents. That day we took Mattie to the Descanso Gardens. A place Mattie loved to go because they had an enchanted train. The train made for a fun way to get around the gardens. Of course Mattie was very much into trains and anything with locomotion!











Quote of the day: Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children. ~ Alex Haley


In honor of my mom's birthday today, I posted several wonderful photos of her with Mattie. From the moment I found out I was having a baby, a switch flipped and I began taking photos of everything. Thankfully I did this. Naturally I took photos to hopefully share with Mattie in the future, never realizing that these would be my only Mattie reminders for years to come. 


This adorable photo was taken on an extremely HOT day at the Los Angeles Zoo. I remember this day vividly, as we bought this purple spray bottle and fan for Mattie to use at the Zoo. I still have this gizmo in Mattie's closet today. 

This photo was taken right in front of the US Capitol Building. Peter took a wonderful photo of all four of us, and whenever I go to Los Angeles, I see this framed photo daily. 
This photo was taken at Balboa Park in San Diego. What a fabulous and beautiful Park, which has something for everyone. In Mattie's case, he loved the train museum and fountains the best. 
This photo was taken at Griffith Park in Los Angeles. I can't tell you how many times we visited this park with Mattie. It had to be one of his favorites. Here we were sitting on a train that took us on a short loop of the park. Along the way, we passed farm animals and cute Disney type scenery. Mattie loved the train, the pony rides, and the dentzel carousel at the park. Ironically I never visited this park (and neither had my parents) prior to Mattie's birth.

Mattie was in love with Legos. Therefore it should be no surprise that Legoland was his favorite theme park. My parents took Mattie to Legoland several times, and he never got tired of his adventures. Particularly Mattie loved the roller coasters at the park, which was a surprise to me and my parents. As we are roller coaster averse. Thankfully Mattie went on these rides with Peter. Mattie got a wonderful Legoland driver's license at the park, that is still hanging on Mattie's closet knob. 

My mom and Mattie by my parent's pool. Mattie had a very cautious nature about water. Which in my opinion was a good thing. He wasn't the kind of kid that wanted to jump into the water, and it took many swimming lessons to get Mattie acclimated. 
Peter and I rarely were home for Christmas, as we have spent the majority of our married life visiting family over the holidays. Regardless of our traveling, for many years we would decorate. In this case, our tree made a beautiful backdrop for this photo. Many of the ornaments on our tree were made by Mattie. Though we no longer decorate (we haven't had a Christmas tree in our home since Mattie died) I have kept all of Mattie's creations. 
In the midst of working today, we took Sunny for a walk on the National Mall. As you can see Sunny was very focused on what else? SQUIRRELS!!!