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

August 31, 2019

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2007. Mattie was five years old and was enjoying his time with us in San Diego, CA. In front of our hotel was this pond and fountain. The pond had flamingos in it, which were an unexpected sight to see. When I snapped this photo, Mattie decided to give me his flamingo impression!


Quote of the day: No matter how little money and how few possessions you own, having a dog makes you rich. ~ Louis Sabin


Though I am still running a fever and feeling awful, I got myself up and out today. As I wanted to go with Peter to the pet store, to pick up a special birthday treat for Sunny.

Sunny is officially 8 years old! He came into our lives during Labor Day weekend of 2016. Sunny was born and lived in Pickens, SC.
It is hard to believe that Sunny was abandoned on a highway. When he was found, the authorities called his owners, but the owners DID NOT want him back! 

Don't you just LOVE this face? Sunny complies with my party hats, because he probably can smell a treat near by! Recently we did a DNA test on Sunny and we learned he is NOT a border collie. Instead he is an Australian shepherd. But still a herding dog! 
We picked up a doggie donut today, with vanilla frosting and sprinkles. Mattie would have totally approved of this choice. As Mattie loved the human equivalent. 
 Our boy loves his food!
I found Sunny through a Facebook ad. I never met him in person before adopting him. Which was really taking a great chance. But I fell in love with his face. Because I was out of town when Sunny was transported from South Carolina, he went to a foster family in DC. The foster family communicated with me for two weeks, so I got a good understanding for what kind of dog Sunny was before I picked him up. I got only good reports and his foster mom called him a big love! 

Peter and I can't say enough good things about City Dogs, the rescue agency we used in DC to get Sunny. They take adoption seriously. As we filled out an application, they wanted a note from our complex and our vet verifying who we are and that we are capable of being good doggie parents. In addition, the agency did a house visit, inspection, and face to face interview. They also required us to take a three hour training class at the shelter before receiving Sunny. So it was a commitment, but I respect the process and understand why the agency has these rules. 

The day we picked Sunny up at his foster family, we weren't sure what to expect or how to really act with him. As soon as I walked in the door, Sunny greeted me, wanted my attention and then sat in Peter's lap. So I really think it was love at first sight. 

HAPPY 8TH BIRTHDAY SUNNY!!!!

August 30, 2019

Friday, August 30, 2019

Friday, August 30, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken on August 23, 2008. It was Mattie's first month of chemotherapy and we were learning quickly that our lives were changing drastically. I can tell we were new to the process, because Mattie was still wearing his hospital ID bracelet and also had hair. As treatment continued, Mattie refused to wear the bracelet and in time the majority of the hospital staff knew him. However, right from the beginning Mattie's child life specialist and art therapists knew he loved creating and therefore always had activities to keep his hands and mind busy. Which was desperately needed when confined to a hospital room for months on end. 


Quote of the day: Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow." Mary Anne  Radmacher


It has been a red letter day today. I woke up feeling very ill, with close to an 101 degree fever, chills, lethargic, and aches everywhere. This is my reaction to yesterday's Shingrix vaccine. Whereas Peter is absolutely fine. Which is remarkable to me since every part of me isn't happy. So I had that to contend with today and then Peter brought me our mail. Look at what we received today...............................

You can click on it to see it in more detail. But understand it is addressed to:

Peter Brown
Parent of College Bound Student

Where do you even go with this? It is a terribly insensitive mailing and I would like to know where they got our address! Someone is keeping addresses of college aged children in this Country, but clearly no one is combing through the list to make sure the information is current. 

But it speaks to a LARGER societal problem! Childhood cancer and children dying are NOT on people's radar scope. This letter confirms what I wrote about on last night's blog..... people think all children are guaranteed to grow up. It is particularly sobering to receive this letter given that we are moving into September. A month I truly don't like, as it was on September 8, 2009, that Mattie died. While most of the parents we know are focused back onto school or transitioning their child to college, we are focused on ways to acknowledge Mattie's 10th anniversary of his death. 


Any case, I decided to investigate the company who sent us the letter. The company is Right C3. Here is their mission.....Right C3 is centered on helping the next generation make wise decisions by pursuing the right career and attending the right college at the right cost.


I did write a complaint email to the company, but in all my digging around today I learned that this company is a scam. Check out the various resources below outlining the issues. One of the big issues is that parents sign their child up for college planning and assistance, but then are billed $2,000, specifically after being told the services are free. It is hard to believe such a company still exists!


Articles about Right C3 scam:

August 29, 2019

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2005. Mattie was visiting my parent's in Los Angeles. We took him to Griffith Park and he got to ride on a pony. Despite being strapped onto the horse, Peter went and walked along side Mattie to be safe. Rather ironic, as we thought about all the possible ways Mattie could get hurt or sick, but in our wildest imagination, childhood cancer never crossed our minds. 


Quote of the day: One in every 3 people in the US will get shingles in their lifetime. No matter how healthy you feel, your immune system declines as you age, and that puts you at an increased risk for shingles. ~ Shingrix.com


Today I had the pleasure (and I am using that term lightly) of going to see one of my medical specialists. She doesn't know me very well as I typically only see her once a year. She doesn't have much of a personality usually, and comes off as more of a researcher scientist than a bedside physician. Today it was like she had taken her happy pills, as she was all chatty and interactive. I honestly wanted to say..... 'what happened to you?!' Given she was chatty, I wanted to reward this quality, so I listened and politely responded. However, I did not want to really hear the content she was talking about! She was going on non-stop about her children, the end of summer, the kids going back to school, children learning to drive and the list went on! I learned more about her from this one visit than I have in three years! 

In her conversation, she was telling me that today was her son's half birthday. He turned 14 1/2. She said her son can't wait to turn 15 and 16, so he can drive. She told me that she said to her son 'of course you will turn 16 and be driving soon enough.' To me the response caught my attention, because this medical doctor made the assumption that children grow up and that nothing would really prevent this from happening year to year. Naturally childhood cancer is no where on her radar scope..... thankfully! But as I was listening, all I could think of is turning 16 isn't guaranteed for her son or any of our children. 


After that fun, I spent several hours on the phone calling all over the DC area to find the Shingrix vaccination for the shingles. Both my doctor and Peter's doctor recommended that we get this shot this year. Given that two of my close friends contracted shingles this year and it took months to recover, I decided to be proactive. As I don't want shingles and find it scary that 1 in 3 people get the shingles. Notice in the Penn Medicine advertisement it says that your risk is higher for shingles if you are under a great deal of stress. That was all I had to hear, as I find for Peter and me, life without Mattie is stressful on a good day. 


Shingles is an itchy and painful skin rash caused by reactivation of the varicella zoster virus (the same virus that causes chickenpox). SHINGRIX uses your body’s own immune cells to boost your immune system’s defenses against shingles. It is the only shingles vaccine proven to be greater than 90% effective in clinical trials. If you’re one of the 99% of adults over 50 years old who have had chickenpox, the virus that causes shingles is inside your body and can reactivate at any time. 

This photo shares some facts about shingles. After calling several CVS stores, I found one in Arlington, VA that had the vaccine available. Peter and I went today and we spoke with the pharmacist, who gave both of us the shot. Naturally before getting the shot, I asked lots of questions. As I wanted to know about side effects, effectiveness, and whether we would ever need another shingles vaccination in our lifetime. 

I have to admit getting the shot hurts, as it is inter-muscular (like tetanus), but so far I don't have a fever, stomach or arm pain. So I hope that is a trend. In 2-6 months, we will need a booster shot and then hopefully we will be done. However, when the pharmacist saw Peter and me, he was confused as to why we needed this vaccine, as he deemed us to look younger than the onset age one typically gets the shot. He scored major points with me!

August 28, 2019

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2005. To me this was classic Mattie. He was in my parent's kitchen, walking around with a box on his head. There was something about boxes that intrigued Mattie. Whether he was creating with them or wearing them, Mattie always had a plan. 











Quote of the day: The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity. ~ Keith Ferrazzi



I am rarely on Facebook, but a friend in cancer posted something today, so I clicked through to read more! The posting showed the 1 minute video above and brought awareness to Dunkin Donut's non-profit called the Joy in Childhood Foundation. The Foundation was founded in 2006, and is an independent 501(c)3 organization powered by Dunkin’ and Baskin-Robbins as well as the generosity of franchisees, partners, employees and guests. The mission is to provide the simple joys of childhood to kids battling hunger or illness.

Why did my friend post to Facebook today? Well September in National Childhood Cancer Awareness month, and advocates are beginning to push alerts to friends, family, and the community about the importance of going GOLD (childhood cancer's awareness color) in September. Frankly until seeing the video and reading about the Joy Foundation, I had no idea all the work Dunkin and Baskin-Robbins do for childhood cancer. 

If you click on the video above (the photo of the cute little boy) you will see it features some of the children with cancer who have provided their voices to Waze users in September. Throughout the month of September, Waze (a GPS navigation app) users can download a Change Voice pack allowing them to receive voice navigation from kids impacted by cancer. Created especially for Dunkin’, it features the voices of both children with cancer as well as siblings. Learn how to https://www.joyinchildhoodfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/Change-Voice-KOC-Read-Only.pdf

To learn more about the Joy in Childhood Foundation, go to:
https://www.joyinchildhoodfoundation.org/. Needless to say, I have read through their website and have already submitted a request for a grant application, since I believe their mission is very much aligned with Mattie Miracle's mission. 

August 27, 2019

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Tuesday, August 27, 2019 -- Mattie died 517 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2005. Mattie was three years old and was learning about water and swimming. Mattie did not take to swimming like a duck to water. He was cautious and fearful, which actually was a great thing, because water in my opinion is something that needs to be respected. Mattie had a sixth sense like that! For several summers in a row, we encouraged Mattie in the water and I would say by the summer of 2008 (age 6), right before he was diagnosed, he began to swim independently and feel more comfortable in the water. 


Quote of the day: It's wonderful that going to the theatre is considered one of the things that you want to train a service dog for, rather than thinking that theatre is out of reach for people who require a service animal, because it isn't. ~ Ann Swerdfager


My lifetime friend, Karen, sent me the cutest article today. It is entitled, Adorable photo of dogs attending a Stratford performance takes off online. If interested, you can read it for yourself:
https://www.cbc.ca/radio/q/blog/adorable-photo-of-dogs-attending-a-stratford-performance-takes-off-online-1.5246983

Naturally when you see this photo, what is your reaction? If you are like me, it probably brought a smile to your face. As animal lovers, we are always absorbed, intrigued, and fascinated by our furry friends. However, in this particular case, these furry cuties were actually working. These are service dogs being trained and acclimated to being in a theater. After all, theaters are crowded, have loud noises, tight spaces, and lots of people. These service dogs need to be aware of all these challenges in order to be an effective helper to their companion. 

The theater staff and performers were very impressed with these pooches. As they sat quietly like a human theater goer and were focused on helping their handlers. Meaning they were not distracted during intermission by concession stands. All I can say is WOW! My Sunny is a good boy, but he is motivated by his stomach. First and foremost! 

I am sure reading this article would have brought a smile to my face whether I was a dog owner or not. But now that Sunny is in my life, I have a greater appreciation for the art of the dog. Dogs are sensitive, perceptive, and very keyed into their owner's emotions. They have a way of making a bad day seem just a little better, and I can absolutely understand why people turn to dogs as service and emotional support animals. There are times I look inside Sunny's eyes, and I swear I am looking at a person. All I know is Sunny gets me moving and walking everyday, regardless of weather and circumstances. I admire the dog-human bond and isn't it wonderful that this dynamic duo can now experience theater together. 

August 26, 2019

Monday, August 26, 2019

Monday, August 26, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2007. Mattie was five years old and that weekend we went for a walk on Roosevelt Island. There is one beachy area on the island that we would sometimes visit. Notice the backdrop in this photo. It is Georgetown University, where the Hospital is located. Ironically a year after this photo was taken, we were practically living in that location for Mattie's cancer treatment. But in 2007, the Georgetown campus did not have the same significance to us as it does now. 

Quote of the day: Why does watching a dog be a dog fill one with happiness? Jonathan Safran Foer 



In honor of National Dog Day, we celebrate Sunny! Who came into our lives during Labor Day weekend of 2016!

National Dog Day celebrates all breeds, pure and mixed and serves to help galvanize the public to recognize the number of dogs that need to be rescued each year, either from public shelters, rescues and pure breed rescues. National Dog Day honors family dogs and dogs that work selflessly to save lives, keep us safe and bring comfort. Dogs put their lives on the line every day - for their law enforcement partner, for their blind companion, for the disabled, for our freedom and safety by detecting bombs and drugs and pulling victims of tragedy from wreckage, now they're detecting cancer and seizures...things even humans cannot do. 


Excerpt from nationaldogday.com:


While we feel that American's have the constitutional right to purchase a pure breed dog, we strongly discourage buying dogs from pet stores supplied by puppy mills, backyard breeders, the internet and newspaper ads. Rather, we encourage those seeking new canine companions, to consider choosing adoption first. You'd like a pure breed dog, look into a pure breed rescue in your city, to see if they might have some little furry soul just waiting to make your life complete. Another great place to find a new best friend is at large chain pet stores that host adoption drives for local shelters and rescues. When considering buying from a breeder, verify that you're buying from a reputable breeder by checking out their licensing, internet reviews and ask for local references such as from a veterinarian. It's vital to educate yourself about the breed you're considering parenting.

"Millions of dogs are killed each year because they're simply unwanted, says Colleen Paige, founder of National Dog Day. They're unwanted because no one realized how to properly care for the demands of the breed. They're unwanted because they were bought as a Christmas gift for a child that didn't keep their promises about caring for the dog...unwanted because they shed too much...unwanted because they bark too much. UNWANTED...simply because someone changed their mind. All a dog wants to do is love you and be loved by you. Dogs are amazing, courageous, sensitive and sentient beings that deserve compassion and respect. Please consider bringing what was once considered "unwanted love," into your heart and home on National Dog Day!"


The photo I snapped today of Sunny out and about on his walk! I am friends with one of the guards near our neighborhood Embassy. I stop to talk to Al each day. When I do, Sunny sits and waits. 








This is the photo I fell in love with through Facebook. I saw Sunny's photo displayed through City Dogs' page and though people 'liked' the photo, no one wanted to adopt him. I suspect because he was already five years old. In any case, I adopted a dog I never even met!
The day we took Sunny home. His first encounter with Indie (our tortoise shell kitty). 
A Sunny favorite.... 'let me at that squirrel!'
Sunny at Mattie's memorial tree. 
Sunny at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, sitting by Mattie's memorial stone. 
Sunny in the snow!
Sunny awarded his certificate of Good Citizenship!
Tipping through the tulips!
Our star spangled boy!
Last September, Sunny turned 7!
Sunny on a play date with his buddy, Fenway. 
Sunny, watching TV! Do you see the squirrel he was watching???

August 25, 2019

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2007. I went to a conference in New Orleans, and brought home this mask! Mattie loved it as you can see, because he decided to wear it around our home. Mattie was a child that was fully on, loved connecting with people, and engaged directly with his environment. It was a huge adjustment for us when he died, as he filled our home with great activity and life. It took us years to adjust to the quiet.






Quote of the day: That no one dies of migraine seems, to someone deep into an attack, an ambiguous blessing. Joan Didion


I continue to feel congested and not myself, so I spent the day resting. On our deck, we have a resident butterfly! Isn't he glorious??? My Mattie weekend sighting. 
We planted this perennial this year and I am thrilled it attracts butterflies!
A close up of my Mattie butterfly!