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

June 13, 2020

Friday, June 12, 2020

Friday, June 12, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2006. Mattie was at Legoland in San Diego. I would have to say that it was one of his favorite theme parks. As Mattie was the "king of the Legos." He loved them before and during cancer and Legos became a therapeutic tool for our entire family. As we would focus on building the Lego structure together, which enabled us to take a break from focusing on cancer. In this photo, Mattie posed right near Diego, the character from Dora the Explorer. A favorite TV show of Mattie's.

Quote of the day: Today's coronavirus update from Johns Hopkins
  • number of people who were diagnosed with the virus: 2,048,986
  • number of people who died from the virus: 114,669

Today is day four of our time in Los Angeles. I just can't get over what we have accomplished in such a short period of time. My dad was visited by an occupational therapist for an evaluation this morning. One would think that when a professional comes over that this would free us up to do other things. But in all actuality, this is far from the reality. Each visitor needs to interact with us, to get accurate information and then also to teach us strategies to work with my dad. So though the therapy is meant for my dad, it can't be effective unless we participate. Something I learned from Mattie first hand. 

But literally my day starts at 6:30am, so that I can get up, showered, and dressed before waking my dad up. We then get him up, help him to the bathroom and get him dressed and downstairs for breakfast. When that is done, sure enough a therapist of nurse arrives. In between, I am on the phone and trying to get information about products my dad needs and I am getting an education on long term care insurance and how it works and what services it will cover. 

Seeing a loved one change and be transformed before your eyes is hard, but keep in mind on top of this my parents are moving out of their house next Thursday. I am on overload and there would be no way I could manage this without Peter's assistance. Peter and I have been packing up their house for several days now, and after we pack things up, we take them to the new house and begin unpacking and setting up the space. My most productive hours to manage their move starts at 3pm, when my dad settles down in his easy chair to rest for a few hours until we get back and then we all sit and chat and watch TV together. 

By the time I sit down to write these blogs at night, I am absolutely spent and I am not sure I have the energy to string two words together. But the blog is my commitment to Mattie and very little would prevent me honoring our connection. 

June 12, 2020

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2006. Mattie was four years old and enjoying a trip to San Diego. Mattie absolutely LOVED Legoland and could spend an entire day there exploring Legos and all the rides. Unlike me and my family, Mattie loved roller coasters. He was all about the adventure and fortunately Peter had no problem joining in the fun. 

Quote of the day: Today's coronavirus update from Johns Hopkins

  • number of people diagnosed with the virus: 2,023,347
  • number of people who died from the virus: 113,820

We arrived in Los Angeles on Tuesday morning. My dad has been sleeping in his chair since he was discharged from the hospital on June 3. For the two nights that we were here, Peter slept downstairs on the couch, so that my mom could get rest in her own bed. 

I took a photo of my dad with his physical therapist, Jon, today. Jon spotted my dad as he went up the stairs for the first time today! It was quite a sight to see and my dad was thrilled with the prospect of sleeping in his own bed tonight. 
My dad walked up the stairs. Jon had him walk to his bedroom and wanted to see him get in and out of bed. After that, he had my dad walk to the bathroom, and then back to the bedroom to get in and out of bed again. It was a lot of walking for my dad. 

But it did not end there. He then did strength building and balance exercises with my dad!
I took photos of every exercise, so that we could do them each day! 
There were six different exercises, and I would say the whole session was 60 minutes. Prior to Jon's visit, we had the visiting nurse come in and check my dad's vitals and to do an assessment. My dad's blood pressure, sugar levels and oxygenation are all normal and stable. So he got an excellent report today, on top of which we are finding that he is becoming more lucid and less confused and disoriented. 

I am quite convinced that my dad experienced delirium. It was a very frightening and disheartening set of symptoms (restlessness, agitation, exhaustion, withdrawn, quiet, and in a mental fog) that came on suddenly and the fear was that things would always be this way. 

On Friday, we meet my dad's occupational therapist for the first time. It is hard balancing the host of people who come over during the week and for the most part, I tell them they have to come in the morning, because as the day wears on, my dad gets too tired to participate. 

My days start around 6:30am, in which I get up, and get myself dressed and ready to go. Then by 8am, I make sure my dad gets up. I help him change into clean clothes and then we have breakfast. I am finding having structure to his day helps him and it aiding in his physical and mental recovery. Basically we keep him up, engaged, and moving to some extent until 3pm. At that point, he relaxes in his chair, and then I can focus on packing things up for my parents to help make their move from one house into another next week go more smoothly. Fortunately Peter is with me for this move, so I can focus on energy on my parents. 

June 11, 2020

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2007. Mattie was visiting my parents in Los Angeles and that day we took him to the La Brea Tar Pits. A place he absolutely LOVED to visit. The Tar Pits has a wonderful museum that explains the history of the Tar Pits and showcases many of the prehistoric animal bones found in the tar over the years. In fact there is still an active tar pit that excavators work on to bring life to the many animals buried in these pits. In this photo, you will notice Mattie was trying to cover his nose! That was because the smell of tar is overwhelming at this site. 

Quote of the day: Today's coronavirus update from Johns Hopkins

  • number of people diagnosed with the virus: 1,999,900
  • number of people who died from the virus: 112,924

It is 9pm, Los Angeles time, and it has been a long day. I did not sleep well or at all last night. I knew Peter was downstairs with my dad and I was worried about him as well. As we had a long and stressful day just trying to fly across the country during COVID-19. 

By 4am, I was up and decided to just get myself ready and start the day. Fortunately I did because I got my dad to eat breakfast, got him completely changed and in fresh clothes, and had a productive morning. Doing all sorts of challenging things like creating healthcare directives. 

Later in the morning, we took my dad to see the doctor. It has been one issue after the other and yet Peter and I are also working hard to pack up my parent's home. We make several runs back and forth to their new home and I am on day 2 and already exhausted. 

June 10, 2020

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Tuesday, June 9, 2020 -- Mattie died 558 weeks ago today. 

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2007. Each August, I would take Mattie to Los Angeles to visit my parents. We knew Mattie needed physical activity and stimulation, so we introduced him to Griffith Park. Ironically, when I was growing up, I never visited this park. But it became a favorite of Mattie's. At the park, he could do everything from taking a train ride, riding horses, to going on an old world carousel. 

Quote of the day: Today's coronavirus update from Johns Hopkins

  • number of people diagnosed with the virus: 1,979,850
  • number of people who died from the virus: 112,006

I woke up at 4:00am today, so we could catch a 7am flight to Los Angeles. Naturally we had no idea what to expect at the airport or on the plane, given that we are still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. There was no passenger screening for temperature checks. For the most part, everyone was masked and keeping their distance. 

When we boarded the plane, I could smell the clorox or bleach, while walking down the jetway. Things smelled clean and we could see that everything was wiped around our seats. Though I came prepared with gloves and disinfectant of my own and cleaned our entire space anyway. But what as also a wonderful surprise was the plane was new. Things looked fresh and clean, which was appreciated. 

In the midst of this, we had a wonderful flight attendant. He even wrote us a note saying how grateful he was that we flew with him today. As our presence enables him to have a job. It was very touching. This fellow couldn't do enough for us and he even brought me hot tea almost every two hours with a special tea bag! I did not ask for it, he was just that kind. 

When we landed, we managed our way to the rental car agency and picked up a minivan to help with my parent's move. From there, we went grocery shopping and then headed to my parent's house. Los Angeles is now in phase 3, which means more freedom than Washington, DC. We took my parents out to lunch today, the first time they have been outside in months. Our goal was to change the setting, to try to inspire my dad to eat. 

I would say that my dad got around today with his walker and really made good strides. He was lucid by day and even did a better job eating. However, as 5pm rolls around, you can see that he becomes exhausted and his confusion and disorientation increase ten fold. He can ask you the same question twenty times and he has no memory of asking the question or of the responses you have been giving him. Yet he gets agitated and fixated for a response. He does things that make no sense. For example, he was released from the hospital a week ago tomorrow. Yet in this 7 day time period he has refused to take his socks and shoes off. He says he is more comfortable with them on! Rest assured, I got them off today!

We had the opportunity to meet my dad's physical therapist today, who is lovely. He agreed with me that my dad needs an occupational therapist and a nurse to help us with his bathing. If all of this wasn't enough to adjust to and manage, let's add a move to the mix. Peter and I are trying to figure out how best to accomplish my parent's move especially since we don't have as much time as we would like to devote to this, because my dad needs our full attention. 

June 8, 2020

Monday, June 8, 2020

Monday, June 8, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2009. That day we took Mattie to a Nationals baseball game. I will never forget that experience, ever! It wasn't positive! I can't tell you how many people stared at Mattie and us. They looked at us like we had the plague and couldn't get far enough away from us. As if childhood cancer was contagious! The one highlight at the park, was a representative from the Army. He was  handing out "Army Strong" shirts to ticket holders. He came over to us and said that he knew Mattie was "Army Strong," and gave Mattie a t-shirt! It was a very kind gesture, in a sea of unkindness. 

Quote of the day: Today's coronavirus update from Johns Hopkins

  • number of people diagnosed with the virus: 1,956,499
  • number of people who died from the virus: 110,932

Doesn't ask me how Sunny and Indie knew they were going to get boarded today! We did not have Indie's cat cage out and we started our morning just like any other morning. In addition, our luggage wasn't even out! So I don't get it! Though I believe Sunny and Indie are very sensitive animals and they study Peter and me all the time!

We checked in on Sunny this afternoon, and this new facility says Sunny is a love! No surprise to us. Sunny's surgeon did not want him to stay at his usual boarding facility because all the dogs roam freely in a room together. Which could cause Sunny to jump or twist his leg (which was operated on 9 weeks ago). Another issue that many facilities are closed due to COVID-19. Fortunately we found a top notch facility, that has its own pet hospital on-site, that is open. It is open because they are caring for first responders' pets! 

Meanwhile, Peter and I are now packed and ready for our 7am flight to Los Angeles tomorrow. I will be there for three weeks, with the hope of stabilizing my dad and also moving them out of their rental into another rental. Got to love the owner of their current property who wants his house back during a pandemic. I absolutely love his compassion and sensitivity!

June 7, 2020

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2009. Mattie was in the hospital recovering from a sternotomy. In which his chest was opened up to remove 9 lung tumors. That evening Mattie's day nurse, Sarah Marshall, and his night nurse, Ellen came in and gave him a kiss on his head. Notice that Mattie did not seem to notice! But don't let that fool you. Mattie was processing everything going on in the room and also multitasking with his coloring book. 

Quote of the day: Today's coronavirus update from Johns Hopkins
  • number of people diagnosed with the virus: 1,928,594
  • number of people who died from the virus: 110,110

We are now done with all Virtual Walk admin work and are getting ready to board Sunny and Indie tomorrow. As Tuesday, we fly to Los Angeles. This isn't the best time to travel, but given that my parents need help, we are proceeding forward with our arrangements. For those of you just tuning in, my dad was rushed to the hospital on Friday, May 29 at around 10pm. He had fallen for a second time and when the paramedics came, his vitals were anything but stable. My dad did not want to go to the hospital, but the paramedics said they couldn't leave him at home. That he had to go! It was a matter of life or death. 

Naturally with COVID-19, my mom was not able to accompany my dad to the hospital. This alone is a psychosocial stressor for all of us, including my dad. Because my dad was really too sick to understand what was going on and without family oversight, we do not have a good idea for how he was behaving in the hospital. Meaning specifically was he eating and was he disoriented/confused? 

My dad was released from the hospital on June 3, at 5pm. This was contrary to what his family wanted, but he was cleared by all his doctors and his physical therapist. Therefore, we had no recourse to fight this decision. My mom picked up my dad at the hospital and then had a rough transition home with my dad, mainly because my dad needs a lot of assistance. The in-home care services prescribed by his doctor did not show up for two days and even when this nurse came, he only did a basic assessment and offered no help. So you got to love the hospital's decision to release my dad, regardless of whether his home environment was ready and able to assist him! Says a lot about our medical system and health insurers! 

Since June 3, progress has been made. My dad no longer is hiccuping! That's a great milestone and he is now able to get out of chair and take a few steps unassisted by my mom. Another great feat! But the big obstacles are that my dad isn't eating, says he isn't hungry, and he reports being very disoriented. He can be talking to you, and mid-sentence he forgets what we are talking about. He is very aware of his confusion and naturally being cognitively impaired is very scary! But what accounts for this disorientation? Is it temporary or permanent!? A great question and no one seems to know the answer! 

In the midst of all of this going on, my parents also have to move out of the house they are renting. As the owner wants it back! Got to love an owner who has NO heart or compassion, as these are older adults being asked to move during COVID-19 and while my dad is recovering from kidney stone surgery and a bad urinary tract infection. So Peter and I will be working around the clock to help stabilize things and to transition my parents to their new home. 

To prepare to leave for Los Angeles, there is so much we have had to do. Everything from putting together food and treats for Sunny and Indie to creating the framework for 22 days of blogs while I am away. It is hard to leave Sunny, especially as he is still recovering from his own surgery, but we can't balance it all. I know the facility Sunny will be staying at has an on-site hospital if he should need medical attention of any kind and our vet loves Indie. I am told they are all awaiting Miss Indie's arrival!