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

January 6, 2011

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in February of 2008. Mattie was in kindergarten and on a field trip to Martha's Table with all four kindergarten classrooms from his school. Martha's Table is dedicated to fulfilling the needs of low-income and homeless children, families, and individuals in the District of Columbia. That particular day, I witnessed close to 80 children put together and wrap sandwiches, muffins, and cupcakes. All the children wore aprons, hairnets and gloves. Watching them first wash their hands and then dawn on this attire was a site! Mattie's teacher asked me to take pictures of the event, since I always carried a camera with me where ever I went. There were several parent helpers on site and I recall my friend, Christine, was also there. Christine joked with me, that if I took a picture of her while she was working with all this wonderful attire on, that this would be the end of our friendship! She was joking of course, but she got me laughing. I was fortunately spared all the kitchen attire but in lieu of that, I tried hard to snap pictures of every stage of the process, and all the children involved. As you can see, Mattie was the child right in the middle of this line up. Charlotte, was right next to Mattie observing what he was doing. However, in kindergarten Mattie, Charlotte, and Campbell were a trio. They traveled and did everything together. I distinctly recall Charlotte telling me one day that when she goes to college, Mattie and Campbell would be attending the same college as her and all three of them would be roommates. I will always remember this comment, because it spoke to the connection Charlotte felt to Mattie, and in her mind there was longevity to this feeling.   

Quote of the day: The cocoon represents their lives and their being wrapped up by their pain and hopelessness. The butterfly represents their freedom from the pain. ~Lloyd Carson

Last night I received an email from my friend Charlie. Charlie was a former student of mine, for those of you who are unaware of the connection. In fact, I taught Charlie's cohort as a new mom and graduate. I started teaching Charlie's class when I had a Master's degree, and then mid-semester I defended my dissertation, and received my PhD. That semester I did not know if I was coming or going. With a child who was less than a year old, I wasn't sure which end was up most days. None the less, I was a full time mom, worked for the department at the University (which paid for my tuition), and was writing a dissertation at the same time. Honestly when I look back at that now, I am not sure how I completed that. I suppose it was good training ground for dealing with cancer, because I learned to work and be coherent on very little sleep.

I started teaching at the college level in 1991 in Boston. Teaching has always been a part of my life, and for those students closest to me, they wonder when I will be returning to the classroom. To them, they feel I belong in the classroom. That to me is a high compliment, because the only part I loved about teaching, was my interaction with the students. For those of you who think it is easy to work in an university setting, I encourage you to try it for a semester. Colleges and universities are a microcosm of the real world, all the stresses and dysfunction in the outside world are very apparent and present in the so called "Ivory Tower." It is interesting that this week I would hear from several of my former students, all at once. Many of them have followed Mattie's story and continue to read the blog. They wrote to me because they want to go back to school and become mental health therapists, occupational therapists, and other related professional helpers with children. I have been deeply touched by their messages this week, and for remaining connected with me.

Getting back to Charlie's email. Charlie let me know that in one of our professional counseling association publications there were two articles about the grief associated with losing a child. She wanted to make sure I saw the articles. So last night, I opened up the publication I received in the mail and read both articles. The first one was so simplistic, I discounted it and moved onto the second article. The second article was written by a mental health professional who specializes in grief, however, this man wrote the article from his personal perspective since he lost his son during the birthing process. I realize the article was brief and therefore he couldn't emotionally elaborate on the pain he and his wife are experiencing. He did a good job highlighting how men and women grieve differently and how friends would sit, listen, and hug his wife, and only pass him by and pat him on the back. As if men don't grieve or need to be heard! He did a good job at expressing our society's gender stereotyping. However, he then went on to explain how after the birth and death of his son, he returned to work. Rather immediately. I realize he had to do this for financial reasons, however, what caught me by surprise was how he interacted with his clients after the loss. He stated, "I spent months telling my story to one client after another and then dealing with the emotional fallout that each one of them expressed. It was difficult to watch client after client go through a tiny version of my own grief while knowing I had to maintain good professional boundaries and stay within the therapist role."  I read this, and all I could do was simply shake my head! I was fine with the fact that he told his clients! How could he not?! It was be disingenuous. The part that bothered me was his use of the term, "maintain good professional boundaries." Here is where I differ from most of my professional colleagues. I felt this way even before Mattie had cancer and died. When you are talking about death and dying issues on some level professional boundaries do exactly that. They create boundaries between people. They aren't natural, they aren't real. I am not suggesting this therapist seek comfort and therapy from the client, but not being able to express one's self honestly and perhaps cry (if one needs to) isn't natural. I think it is important for clients to understand that their therapists are real, human, and model the behaviors we expect clients to learn. If we can't do it ourselves, how on earth will our clients gain such insights in our presence? I chatted back and forth with Charlie last night about this, and she asked me whether I read some of the books mentioned in the article. I was familiar with both of them, and also told her I did not feel either book spoke to me. I am not sure what I am looking for in a book, but I will know it when I read it.

I woke up with an intense sore throat today. The concept of staying in bed was quite appealing but Ann suggested we meet for lunch. So I got it together and met up with her. It seemed like we had a lot to catch up on since we haven't seen each other in two weeks. I can get into funks where I don't want to talk, but today was a talkative moment for me. After lunch, I went to visit Ann's mom, Mary. I brought her a New Year's gift, and we opened it together. I got her a scarf, hat, and glove set. They were a very soft material and believe it or not, the pattern on them was leopard. Animal prints are very popular now, and Mary always admires my own scarf, so I knew she could handle being bold and stylish! I put the hat and scarf on her and they looked lovely. Her response to me was she couldn't wait to go outside to wear them. Very sweet. Mary was very chatty with me today and we exchanged stories about our holidays and life in general. In her own way she tried to fill me in on the things and people I missed while I was in California. It was very touching to me, because on some level I realize I was missed.

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