MATTIE MIRACLE VIRTUAL WALK WAS AN $110,000 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

April 7, 2018

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2004, during Mattie's second birthday party. It is funny, but we have very few photos of the three of us together. My mom snapped this photo of us before Mattie's party began. Though Mattie's first birthday party was challenging, he enjoyed his second birthday party a lot more. 

Quote of the day: When our children die, we drop them into the unknown, shuddering with fear. We know that they go out from us, and we stand, and pity, and wonder. Henry Ward Beecher




It was a whirlwind of a day. We left this beautiful sight today! This was the view of the Gulf of Mexico from our hotel balcony over the last 8 days. 
Our balcony also faced Naples, and I loved looking at the houses and their canals. 
This is "swany." She was left on our bed last night! The funny part is we never received a towel animal at any other point during our stay!
As we drove into the Ft. Myers Airport, we were greeted by these lovely sandhill cranes. The beauty of the West coast of Florida, is it is filled with natural beauty, as it isn't as built up as the East coast. We left 80 degree weather and landed to the DC special.... 40 degrees, GREY, and cloudy! 
It was one chore after the other as soon as we got home. It started with four loads of laundry, picking up all our mail, and grocery shopping. 

The Mattie Miracle toiletry drive is underway in honor of Mattie's 16th birthday! Peter picked up ALL the packages of toiletries that were donated to us over the last 8 days!

This picture just shows some of the boxes!!!








Here is what was sent to us by supporters over the last 8 days. This is on top of what we received before we left. The drive goes until April 16, and I know more is still coming in. 

Peter and I opened every one of these packages tonight, sorted the donated items and then went to recycle all the boxes in our complex. It was a busy, busy re-entry to DC!

April 6, 2018

Friday, April 6, 2018

Friday, April 6, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2003, as we celebrated Mattie's first birthday. Mattie wasn't a happy camper that day. There was too much noise and commotion for him. In fact, he and I went upstairs several times to reset. Nonetheless, we wanted to celebrate Mattie's birthday and we were happy for any part of the party he enjoyed. 


Quote of the day: As someone who has lived the nightmare of losing a child, I know that the enormous hole left behind remains forever. Arthur Honegger


Today is our last day in Naples, FL. We head home tomorrow. Despite the heat, we took about a three mile walk. On our walk, we stopped by a local beach for a few minutes. The beach we went to was MUCH nicer than our hotel's beach. It wasn't crowded and the sand was like powder. However, between the walk to the beach and then going on the beach itself, the HEAT hit us. 

Along our walk, we passed many beautiful banyan trees! 
You can't walk anywhere here without seeing a wonderful bird or wildlife sighting. 
How do you like this bromeliad? There was a row of these wonderful flowers lining the pathway to the beach. 
This is the beach we walked to..... it was serene and beautiful and the people sitting on the beach were lovely. 
The beach was filled with shells. All intact shells, unlike the shells you find along the Atlantic Ocean. 
This is our balcony, which we have had the pleasure of sitting out on for a week. Tomorrow I will greatly miss it. 
This is our view from the balcony. I have loved looking at the houses and their waterways. In that sense, Naples reminds of Ft. Lauderdale. 
Looking down from our balcony is the pool and a view of the Gulf of Mexico. 














As I typically do, I have listed all of the restaurants below that we had dinner at along our journey. There were many that I would NEVER recommend, and several that were stellar. 

Thursday: Catch of the Pelican (Okay)
Friday: T-Michael's (not good)
Saturday: HB's at the Beach (lovely setting, food so so)
Sunday: Mire Mare (owned by FISH, terrible service, food was okay)
Monday: FISH (Terrible and left) and then Ocean Prime (Great)
Tuesday: The Bay House (Good, but where I got bitten by No See Ums (bugs that are as big as a flea and bite!!!-- Very painful and welting)
Wednesday:Baleen (Great, amazing view)
Thursday: Yabba Island (Great, on 5th avenue, main street of Naples)
Friday: Sea Salt (headed there tonight)

April 5, 2018

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken by Peter on April 4, 2002. At 12:53 am,  the morning that Mattie was born. Peter followed Mattie into the nursery of the hospital and watched him being cleaned off, weighed and so forth. But what I love about this photo, was you could tell how alert Mattie was from day one! 



Quote of the day: There's no tragedy in life like the death of a child. Things never get back to the way they were.Dwight D. Eisenhower


I have found my favorite restaurant in Naples, FL. It is called Baleen and it is located at the LaPlaya Beach Resort. The setting is just incredible and the food matches the beauty! Which in Naples is a rare combination. This is where we dined on Mattie's 16th birthday last night. 
From our table, we got to watch the sun setting into the Gulf of Mexico. 
A glorious sight!
People all around us were photographing this moment, and when the sun finally disappeared into the water, people were clapping. As if they had just seen a show! It was a first for me. 









Today we headed to Marco Island. Marco Island is about 40 minutes from Naples. I have heard about this Island for years and since we were so close to the Island, I felt we had to see it. Our first stop on Marco Island was to Brigg's Boardwalk. This nature trail is about .5 miles long. 





It was 91 degrees today, but felt hotter in the sun. From the boardwalk, we could see many birds wading in the water from the trail. 
The trail took us through a forest of Slash Pines. I had never heard of this type of pine. But apparently you can tap this tree and from it they make turpentine, tar, and resin. The bark is fascinating as it reminds me of a California Ponderosa. 
Of course no trip would be complete without an alligator sighting! This was a tiny, baby alligator. 
After the boardwalk, we headed to the only other major attraction on Marco Island, Otter Mound. 

The Mound is named for a previous resident, Ernest Otter a one-time owner who had occupied the property until 1997. Otter is credited for the unique whelk shell terraces that define the preserve’s signature man-made feature.

While at the Mound, we had the opportunity to talk to two other visitors there. It turns out that the man we were talking to was the nephew of Ernest Otter. He had never visited this property before, so for him it was like visiting a piece of his family's history. It is a shame that his family doesn't still own this property.  


Otter Mound and the property surrounding it was a home site for early settlers who worked in the Marco Island clamming industry. The "Mound" on which Otter Mound Preserve sits was constructed by the Calusa native inhabitants from oyster, southern surf clam, lightning whelk, and other shellfish species and dates between 700 AD – 1200 AD.


Ernest Otter's amazing work! Walls and walls made of whelk shells. Shells that were left behind by Native Americans. 







There was once a house on the Mound. But it no longer exists. The only remaining structure was the house's outhouse!














Our last stop on Marco Island was to see the JW Marriott hotel. I have heard about this hotel from so many people, that I wanted to see if for myself. It is certainly a lovely property, that captures the beauty of the Gulf. Yet I have learned that Marco Island is not for me. It is too beachy, without much else to do. 

Peter and I love being by the beach, but we are not sun or water worshipers. So we know when visiting a beach area, there has to be other attractions to visit. 

In the hotel lobby is this wonderful sand castle!
This is why the property is sought after! It is for this view and access to an amazing beach. 
On the beach was this cute Easter sandcastle! It says Happy Thanksgiving, followed by April Fools! Since Easter was on April Fools this year. 
If someone is going to get bitten, it's going to be me. Peter hasn't been touched. I have met the Florida sandfly, also nicknamed the No See Ums. They are absolutely hateful. You can't see them but what a bite. Not your ordinary bite either as they produce BIG and very itchy welts. I have read that you shouldn't scratch them, as it makes it worse. So I am complying, but WOW! My legs and neck have been eaten alive. 

Where did I get most of these bites? Not on the nature trails, but at a restaurant called The Bay House. The restaurant is located on one of the inlets and while eating dinner, they attacked me.  

April 4, 2018

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Wednesday, April 4, 2018
Mattie's 16th Birthday


Quote of the day: To lose a son under those circumstances - a violent death like my son went through, it just puts a burden on your heart. Brian Jones




It is hard to believe that Mattie would have been 16 years old today. We can't even imagine what teenage Mattie would be like, as to us he is forever 7. We celebrated 7 birthdays with Mattie and now 9 without him. A rather depressing notion. No matter how much time goes on, we are left wondering why Mattie? Why us? In fact, we went to an ice cream store this afternoon (a Mattie favorite thing to do) and while there I observed a mom with four children, and she was pregnant with her fifth. All I could think was...... here is a clueless mom, who doesn't know life with childhood cancer. I know a rather mean thought coming from my head, but I am not perfect and have my angry and NOT so NICE side as well. 

Peter and I visited the Naples Botanical Gardens today. They were rather underwhelming, but within the flowers and bushes they displayed animated dinosaurs. Mattie would have gotten a total kick out of these displays and would have enjoyed the scavenger hunt through the gardens in search of dinos. Before I share those photos with you, you will find a letter I wrote to Mattie after he died. I had this letter on display at Mattie's celebration of life ceremony n October 10, 2009. The letter highlights the day Mattie was born. Mattie loved hearing about the day he was born and under stressful times, Mattie always requested this story. In fact on August 5th, the day Mattie's cancer was deemed terminal, Mattie crawled into my lab and requested to hear about April 4, 2002! 

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Letter on display at Mattie's Celebration of Life:


My Dearest Mattie,

It is said that parents love their children right from the moment they are born. However, in your case, our love for you began as soon as we learned we were going to have a baby. In fact, right after seeing your sonogram picture, we felt like proud parents. We posted those pictures everywhere. We shared these pictures with practically anyone who would listen or showed interest, and each September when I taught prenatal development in my undergraduate human development class, out would come your sonogram pictures to illustrate my points. Even my students got a sneak peek at our baby, a baby who would have a profound and meaningful impact on not just his parents but also every community he touched. Daddy and I did not only love you, we FELL IN LOVE with you, and that love grew stronger with each day. Your energy, spirit, love for life, intellectual challenges, sense of humor, and loyalty to your friends and family were only some of the wonderful traits we always admired in you.

This video is a tribute to you and your wonderful, yet short life. It seems fitting as we celebrate you, and say good-bye to your physical presence that I share the story about how you entered the world. The story of your birth had to be one of your most favorite stories to hear, and I found during times when you were reflective, overly tired, or in need of hugs and tenderness, the request for this story arose. In fact, I remember on August 5th, the day we found out that your cancer metastasized everywhere, you and I were sitting in the hospital’s rose garden, and you requested the story. It was almost as if you knew this was going to be a bad day, so in essence we might as well brace ourselves, cuddle, and prepare for this together.

Here is the story I always shared with you. A story Daddy and I will never forget. On April 2, 2002, at 11pm, I decided to head to bed. I was anxiously awaiting your birth, and as your due date approached, I couldn’t help but wonder, when will “the baby” be coming? I was restless and uncomfortable, so while in bed, I began to watch television. I was having trouble concentrating on what I was hearing, mainly because you were kicking up a storm inside of me. At which point, the kicking became so intense, that I literally felt something pop. You clearly wanted OUT, and you were going to kick your way into the world on your terms. Naturally after feeling this pop, I looked down at my tummy, and when I jumped out of bed, I realized my water had broken. This only happens to 25% of moms, and in retrospect, I should have guessed that this was just the beginning of how different our lives were going to be together. I immediately called the doctor and told her what happened. She asked if I was in pain, which I wasn’t, and she instead told me to get a good night’s rest, because my baby was going to be born the following day. Well I can assure you after hearing this news, sleeping was the farthest thing from our minds.

So on April 3, 2002, Daddy and I headed to the hospital and we were admitted to the maternity unit at 8am. The labor process began, but it was a VERY slow process for me, and at times as you moved inside my tummy, Daddy could see your head pushing against my backbone. Needless to say Dr. Mike, the anesthesiologist, became my favorite doctor that day. The hours kept rolling by, and still there was NO sign of our baby! I was getting weaker, I developed an 102 fever, and by 11pm I really had no energy to give birth to you. In addition, to how I was feeling, your oxygen supply was getting cut off, and your chin was positioned in such a way that would make the birthing process almost impossible. So it was at that point that the doctor recommended an emergency c-section. Things began to happen very quickly around me. I was signing paperwork for surgery and Daddy was being transformed by putting on a bunny suit so he could enter the operating room.

I had never been in an operating room before in my life, but I really wasn’t concerned at that point about myself. I was solely focused upon you. I was wide-awake for the c-section, but unable to see the process, which as you know, was probably a good thing. Daddy on the other hand found the whole thing very exciting, and began to videotape and take pictures of the surgery. Literally a team of people surrounded me and I will never forget Dr. Mike, the anesthesiologist who sat by my side, and talked with me and did whatever he could to keep me pain free.

When you have a c-section, your arms are strapped to the operating table, so I couldn’t move, and directly over my head was what appeared to be a rope with a clamp that was holding open my abdominal cavity. Normally by this point I would have passed out, but when it came to you, I developed strength I never knew I had. As the doctor began cutting, and finally got to you, the first thing she said was, “what is this?” That is NOT what you typically hope to hear when having a c-section. The doctor let me know that I had a grapefruit sized tumor on my bladder, and my immediate thought was, did this affect the baby? The next thing I knew, I felt her tugging, and I heard the loudest cry ever. Now here is the part of the story that I know was always your FAVORITE! I would always try to replicate the sound I heard coming from you that day, a sound that will always remain in a parent’s ear. It was a very large WAAHHH! WAAHHH! At which point the doctor told us two things: first, that you were one of the most beautiful babies she had ever seen, and second, that you had quite a set of lungs on you! I concurred with both statements.

The doctor then brought you over to me, and she felt that I needed to be the first person to touch you. So despite my arms strapped to the table, my right hand miraculously reached out and grabbed your tiny, soft, and cute foot. It was a moment I will always cherish, a moment in which I will never forget, and a moment I am so happy you too enjoyed hearing about. Each time I retold the story I felt as if it further bonded us together, and I always enjoyed hearing your comments, thoughts, and reactions to your story.

Seeing you made Daddy very happy! Though he was worried about me, since after the c-section, I had to have bladder surgery to remove the tumor, we both agreed that Daddy should stay with you and accompany you to the nursery. It is there that Daddy got to see you cleaned up, he learned that you weighed 6 pounds and 13 ounces, and that you had high Apgar scores of 8 and 9. Within an instant, Daddy became one of your fiercest protectors, and he cared for you for five days straight while we were in the hospital together. In fact, Daddy is the first person who changed your diaper, and though those were five very challenging days in the hospital, they were days that helped us form our strong family ties. Ties that were imperative and that we relied on for seven years of your life!

Your presence is so greatly missed. Nothing seems the same, is the same, looks, feels, or tastes the same without you in our lives. May you always know that Mommy and Daddy love you, cherish you, and that feeling will remain with us forever and always. Good-bye my Mooshi Moo angel and goodbye Daddy’s best buddy. With love from Una Moon and Daddy!

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The Naples Botanical Garden consists of 170 acres of cultivated gardens and preservation land, representing seven distinct natural habitats and ecosystems, and featuring over 1,000 species. 

Usually I wouldn't enter the children's garden, but it was within this garden that they had a small butterfly house. Peter snapped this photo of me on a butterfly bench in the house. 
It is hard to tell but all the dinosaurs were animated and also made noise!
This one matched Peter!















A big t-rex!
This dino made such a loud sound, you could hear it throughout the gardens. I get why they had the dinos, but frankly it was very distracting to the adult visitor who was looking for tranquil beauty! 
The gardens were filled with many water themes!
It was blazingly hot today, but we did try to go on the walking trail within the gardens. Along our pathway, we got the attention of an osprey! 
This is what the gardens looked like. More foliage than flowers. But still beautiful. The confusing part to Peter and me was that all the ecosystems within this garden looked exactly alike. We could hardly tell where the Brazilian garden started and the Florida garden, for example, began. 
I can't see any water lilies without thinking of Monet!
Peter pointed this out. See the ladybug?!




















The Gardens had an extensive display of orchids. 
A poinsettia tree! A typical sighting in the Caribbean. 
Do you see this alligator made out of plantings? 
 The beauty of orchids. 
 Orchids in all colors!
Many of the orchids were attached to trees, and growing like air plants. 
Another beauty!
A bromeliad like no other.... it has a zebra pattern.