Mattie Miracle 2021 Walk was a $125,000 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: 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

March 21, 2020

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken on April 1, 2009. Mattie was in his very small hospital room and he was visited by Brandon, his cancer buddy, and Whitney and Lesley (child life interns). As you can see, Mattie was the life of the party. The reason we were able to manage and cope with these incredibly long and stressful hospital days was because we had an amazing support team inside and outside the hospital looking out for us. 

Quote of the day: Update on the Coronavirus from the CDC

  1. Total cases: 15,219
  2. Total deaths: 201
  3. Jurisdictions reporting cases: 54 (50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and US Virgin Islands)

Data from DC (12% of those tested are positive; over 573 people tested): 

Those who tested positive:

  • March 7: 2 
  • March 9: 4
  • March 11: 10
  • March 14: 16
  • March 15: 17
  • March 16: 22
  • March 17: 31
  • March 18: 39
  • March 19: 71

Peter and I were reflecting the last time we dined in a restaurant. It was on March 11. Only ten days ago. A lot has happened in ten days. Life as we know it has ceased to exist. Or has it? We took Sunny for a walk today on the National Mall. Thinking we would walk passed the cherry trees and find no one there. To our surprise there was incredible traffic and people were walking in GROUPS everywhere! Hoards of people to be specific and NO ONE seemed worried about the virus and they certainly weren't heeding the social distancing guidelines. 

Well you could have two reactions to what I am reporting! One could be.... how refreshing, people are acting as they normally do and carrying on with life, or two, you could be disgusted for the blatant disregard for what our nation and world are facing now. Unfortunately, I side with the latter. I was absolutely angry at what I was seeing, because this is exactly what we don't want...... groups of people milling about with the potential of further spreading the virus. Needless to say, Peter and I kept our distance from all these people and walked on the other side of the road. 

Our beautiful amaryllis is blooming in this chaos. 
Do you see the traffic!? These are NOT parked cars, these are cars waiting at a traffic light as they try to approach the trees and take in their glory. 
Because the trees are so full of blossoms, it is hard to capture the number of people all around them. I was across the street from the trees and wasn't interested in getting closer to prove my point. 
Even the crab apple trees are blooming! They have an incredible fragrance. In a way, nature reminds us that there is always hope and that it won't always be like this. 
A robin sitting in a crab apple tree. 

March 20, 2020

Friday, March 20, 2020

Friday, March 20, 2020

Tonight's photo was taken on March 18, 2009. That day we took Mattie to see the circus. It was his very first and last trip to the circus. We received a private box from Mattie's clinic to attend the show and Mattie loved the whole thing. Typically Mattie wasn't into NOISE, but the box seats made us all feel protected and more secure. We got Mattie all sorts of circus gear from a pretend sword to this light up elephant. In the audience was his friend in cancer, Brandon. During the intermission, we met up with Brandon and his family and Mattie truly had a great time that day. The sword and this elephant remain in Mattie's bedroom today. 

Quote of the day: Today's Coronavirus update from the CDC.

  1. Total cases: 15,219
  2. Total deaths: 201
  3. Jurisdictions reporting cases: 54 (50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and US Virgin Islands)

The status of things seem to be changing by the minute with the Coronavirus. As now the Canadian and Mexico borders have been closed, Americans have been advised not to travel internationally and states like California, New York, and Illinois have a 'stay at home' mandate. With grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals, laundromats, and take out food all still being open. 

We had two things going on today. Sunny had to go to the vet for his teeth cleaning, for biopsies of two skin growths and for xrays for his hips and back legs. Literally Peter dropped Sunny off at 8am. By noon, I called, and Sunny was still waiting to be sedated. As 4pm rolled around, I couldn't take it any longer and called back for an update. At which point, the vet spoke to me all with GOOD news. We were worried about his back legs and a lump we felt in his hip. Turns out to be muscular and with ten days on a muscle relaxant, he hopefully will be back to himself. Needless to say, he is loopy tonight on pain killers. I do think with this virus scare and staying at home, our minds went wild with what was wrong with Sunny. 

The vet did not allow any pet owners into the office. Instead, we had to call ahead, wait outside and a tech came to pick up and deliver Sunny to us. They are taking Coronavirus very seriously, and I am good with that. While waiting for Sunny, we participated on a nationwide conference call with the American Psychosocial Oncology Society's pediatric special interest group. It was a good meeting, where we all got to hear how two clinicians are actually implementing the Psychosocial Standards of Care at their treatment sites (one in Seattle and the other in Cleveland). After the meeting, I wrote to each clinician to thank them for promoting the Standards and I am hoping to capture some information from them which I can share in an upcoming Foundation newsletter. However, it is wonderful to see our vision slowly being executed around the Country. The big take away today was programs which thought they offered outstanding and state of the art psychosocial care, realize now after using our newly created checklist (that helps programs assess and rate themselves on a likert scale, as to how well they are meeting each standard of care) that there is vast room for improvement. I appreciated the candor in the conference call and I commend programs who want to assess how they are doing with the hopes of providing the best possible care to their children and families. 

In the midst of what we are all living with and the inordinate amount of stress we face each day, I thought posting these touching stories below, would provide some hope. That even under the worst of times, the human spirit finds a way to persevere. 

Grandma gets 95th birthday surprise from safe distance amid coronavirus pandemic:

Granddaughter reveals engagement to quarantined grandfather in touching photos:

March 19, 2020

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken in March of 2009. Mattie was in the outpatient clinic at the hospital and was working on the pottery wheel. Mattie had never worked with a wheel before, but that did not stop him. He figured it out and throughout his time in treatment made many beautiful clay pieces. Pieces which are part of his legacy and are on display in our home. 

Quote of the day: Update on the Coronavirus in the USA by the CDC:

  1. Total cases: 10,442
  2. Total deaths: 150
  3. Jurisdictions reporting cases: 54 (50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and US Virgin Islands)

Today I received an email from the City of Alexandria. They wanted me to know that the City has pulled all permits for events through May 17. The date of our Walk. Peter and I have been debating what to do about the Walk, but now the guessing is over. The City determined the fate of the Walk. An event we have held every year for TEN YEARS regardless of weather conditions. 

This afternoon, we attended an on-line training about virtual fundraisers. It was helpful in the sense that it enabled us to explore other options and think outside the box. So as of today, we will have a Virtual Walk Challenge on May 17th (from 10am to noon). We are able to do this thanks to the power of Facebook. If you want more information, check out our website:

We took Sunny for a Walk around the National Mall. These two ducks were enjoying the World War II memorial and were thankfully oblivious to the Coronavirus. 
I almost forgot that this is cherry blossom season. We walked passed the tidal basin and the trees were in their glory. Usually this area is swarming with people at this time of year. But the Coronavirus changed all of that.  
A close up of the basin. It was a beautiful way to see these flowers, without crowds of people. Yet given the circumstances, I rather have the crowds of people. 
The beauty of Washington, DC in the spring. 
The quintessential photo of the cherry trees and the Washington Monument. 

March 18, 2020

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2009. That day Mattie was in the pediatric physical therapy clinic at the hospital having a session. I was taking the picture and with me was Mattie's physical therapist, school counselor, and child life specialist. Mattie built this pyramid of blocks and was asked to use his legs and feet to knock it down. Therapy sessions couldn't be boring or routine, because Mattie would have become disinterested and not participated. Also Mattie was always in great pain, so the more enticing the activity, the more likely he would comply. The crowd of us watching on were the cheering squad!

Quote of the day: Today's data on the Coronavirus from the CDC

  1. Total cases: 7,038
  2. Total deaths: 97
  3. Jurisdictions reporting cases: 54 (50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and US Virgin Islands)

Though we are technically NOT on lock down, we might as well be! Everything around us is shut down and the feeling all around us is tense! You can feel the stress whenever you go into the grocery store or pass people by on the street. Like with cancer, the problem with this virus, is very little is known about it. Such as its trajectory, how to stop its spread, how to treat it, and how long it will remain active within our Nation. I have heard all sorts of predictions and when you hear that schools are thinking of closing for the remaining academic year, you realize we are in this for the long haul. Yet how long can we all live like this? I ponder on the mental health effects as well. On an aside, I have been seeing my family doctor for almost two decades now. Yet when I went for my annual check up yesterday, it was the first time she did a depression screening. It wasn't optional either. I realize this is probably an insurance required assessment, but I said to her if she gave me this checklist a few weeks from now, my answers may be quite different! 

In the midst of the chaos is Sunny. Sunny keeps us grounded. He needs his walks, a lot of attention, and consistency. Unfortunately Sunny has been having issues with his back legs. So he is going into the Vet for sedation, xrays, teeth cleaning, and biopsies on Friday. The office is taking the virus seriously and they won't let us into the building. They will be coming to the car to get Sunny. Hoping all will be well with this cute boy!

I have been posting Coronavirus articles each night. The two below caught my attention today, because they indicate that the virus does have an impact on the Millennials. Not only because they can infect the rest of us, but because data seems to show that this age group can develop long term lung consequences from the virus. 

Millennials may be at a higher risk for catching coronavirus, official says:

Coronavirus doctor says lung scans for young patients were ‘nothing short of terrifying’:

March 17, 2020

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Tuesday, March 17, 2020 -- Mattie died 546 weeks ago today. 

Tonight's picture was taken on St. Patrick's Day of 2009. That day, Mattie had a clinic appointment. He decided to wear his shamrocks to the hospital. Several friends gave Mattie these green themed gifts and he was proud to show them off. To this day, I still have the glasses and the headband. 

Quote of the day: Daily report from the CDC (cases in the USA):

  1. Total cases: 4,226
  2. Total deaths: 75
  3. Jurisdictions reporting cases: 53 (49 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and US Virgin Islands). Though I hear West VA just had its first case today. 

Though I was hesitant to go, I had my annual physical today at my doctor's office. I honestly wasn't sure what I was going to find. As the office is located within a hospital. However, unlike a typical day in her office, there were only 5 patients in there with me. The office looked like a ghost town, because they are advising patients who are sick over the phone. I know my doctor's nurse and she told me she is returning calls from patients throughout the day and staying much later into the evening hours each day. I have a feeling, doctor offices maybe changing their policy about non-emergent care shortly. I feel like I was lucky enough to get in today and of course I chatted with my doctor about the procedures she is following if myself or Peter feels symptomatic. To my surprise I learned that her office doesn't have access to testing kits. 

Tomorrow I was supposed to visit my dentist to get crowns put on the two teeth which had root canals. However, the office called me to reschedule as the American Dental Association has asked ALL dental offices to close down for four weeks. Meanwhile, I decided to go back to the grocery store today to stock up on vegetables and more meats. The produce section was a disaster. There were no plastic bags to put vegetables in. I asked the grocery store folks about this and they said they were all out of bags. So I went to the front of the store and grabbed the plastic bags they put your groceries in when you check out. As I was filling these bags with vegetables, a store employee started yelling at me. He was saying that if I put my vegetables in these bags, the check out clerk won't be able to see what's in the bags. Total nonsense and to me it made more sense to bag my items than to put them on the check out conveyor belt loose. Any case, I was in no mood to deal with his attitude and I snapped back at him. My intention was to signal to him..... leave me alone.  

This afternoon, Peter got all of us outside on the balcony. For fresh air and to try to have a moment of peace from the news. 
Our balcony view. 
We aren't far from Reagan National airport, so we are still seeing flights coming and going. 
Despite the absolute chaos around us, some of our perennial plants are in bloom. The trees, flowers, and birds are the only things that seem to be stable right now. Nature has always been a sign of hope to me since Mattie died. 

Each night, I have been sharing a story about the Coronavirus. Tonight's story is about Italy. Just today alone, they had another 2,500 citizens diagnosed with this virus. Because they are having trouble keeping up with patient care, they have decided to allow 10,000 medicine school graduates start work eight or nine months ahead of schedule and waive the mandatory exams they normally sit for before qualifying. These students are needed to help support general clinics and nursing homes, so that the qualified practitioners are freed up to address patients with coronavirus. 

Italy rushes new doctors into service as coronavirus deaths rise above 2,500:

March 16, 2020

Monday, March 16, 2020

Monday, March 16, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken in March of 2009. That day, Mattie was in his bedroom and decided to put on his knight gear. It may have looked like Mattie was standing and walking around, but he wasn't. Mattie could balance on his feet, but was unable to walk around without assistance. You will notice that all around Mattie were THINGS. I frankly couldn't keep up with the amount of gifts and items coming into us each day, which was why you see things stacked all around him. In front of Mattie, on the floor, was an aerobed mattress. This was the bed either Peter or I slept in whenever Mattie was home from the hospital. Given that Mattie was always connected to IVs and had mobility issues, he needed help throughout the night. 

Quote of the day: Restaurants and taverns licensed in the District of Columbia shall suspend table seating effective March 16, 2020 at 10pm to April 1, 2020 at 6am. (120 people tested and 17 tested positive for the virus) ~ Mayor Muriel Bowser

Given that the whole city is coming to a stand still, the only outing we look forward to is going for a walk. Washington, DC is in full bloom. We passed incredible cherry trees today. 
Have you even seen a Star Magnolia? The Star Magnolia is a slow-growing shrub or small tree native to Japan. It bears large, showy white or pink flowers in early spring, before its leaves open.
The Star Magnolia in pink. 
Grass is green, trees are beginning to bud, and daffodils are out in full force. A pretty sight against the American flag. 
Meanwhile Mattie's memorial garden in our commons area is springing to life. The sparrows and other birds are singing up a storm.  
Mattie's memorial daffodils! 
A close up of these cheerful flowers. We all need as much cheer as possible now, and what we learned from Mattie's death, is the way to cope with a crisis, is to turn to nature for peace and some stability. While chaos is going on all around us, nature is unfurling its spring time glory. 

March 15, 2020

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken in March of 2009. This was a photo of Mattie with Meg, his child life intern. When it came to getting Mattie up on his feet to participate in physical therapy, we called on Meg. Meg became Mattie's opponent. They would have races around the floor, in hopes of egging him on to walk and take steps. Meg was great at hamming it up, and Mattie thrived on the competition. Of course you know that Meg always let Mattie win, which was part of the fun and further inspired Mattie to participate. 

Quote of the day: All licensed nightclubs have been ordered to shut down operations, and all eating and drinking establishments are to eliminate bar seating while the city works to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Following up an advisory announced Friday that limited all gatherings to 250 people or less, the new guidelines include:
  • Suspending all bar seating and service to standing patrons
  • Limiting all individual tables to six people or less
  • Mandating that all tables and booths be spaced at least 6 feet apart.
The city announced six new positive cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, bringing the D.C. total to 16. ~ The Washington DC update

It seems like the safest activity one can do is to be outside and walk. So today we went back to Great Fall Park and bought a one year's pass to all the National Parks. The side I am standing on is in Virginia and across the water, the other side of Great Falls is in Maryland.

We snapped a photo of the Maryland side from where we were. I don't know if you can see the people sitting on the rocks. We shared our hellos from across the water. 

Sunny loves Great Falls! He is always up for an adventure and gets a lot of attention from the other walkers. 

Peter and Sunny. 

The sky was ominous today. It seemed to match how we are all feeling regarding how our daily lives and freedoms are rapidly changing. 

The three articles below caught my attention today! Slowly state by state, we are seeing schools closed, people working from home, and now restaurants and other activities closing down for a month. Totally unheard of in American history. 

California, Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts and Washington close bars and restaurants in effort to slow coronavirus:

Coronavirus: Gov. Newsom orders all bars closed; Californians over 65 should self-isolate at home:

129 Photos depicting how the virus is changing our way of life: