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

July 15, 2017

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2007, on our wedding anniversary. There was a lot going on in this photo. We had Mattie's big inflatable pool on the deck, which took over almost 2/3's of the space and we had Mattie's sandbox on the deck too (lower right hand corner, in green). If you look closely you can see Patches' (our calico cat) ears, as she used to like sitting outside with us. But why I am showing you this photo? Because on the table we had two goblets, one was blue and the other cranberry colored. On our anniversary we used to take these goblets out and toast the occasion. Why? Because these goblets belonged to my paternal grandparents, who were also married on July 15. 

Quote of the day: For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love. ~ Carl Sagan

Amazing after all these years! Today Peter and I celebrated our 22nd anniversary. We met each other 29 years ago, when we were teenagers. Marriages are always faced with challenges, but knowing that our union produced Mattie, who developed cancer and died, is the ultimate test of a relationship. However, some bonds can not be problem even by cancer.

If you were to ask Peter how we met, he would tell you the tale of our encounter in college. We were in the same dorm, and our floor had a common kitchen. While I was in the kitchen one day, he passed by whistling and playing with his soccer ball. Apparently he saw me, and instead of passing by came into the kitchen to talk with me. His opening line to me was.... "how is choir going?" At which point I looked at him and said..... "why do you want to know?" Peter then said, "because I am in choir with you." Honestly I don't remember seeing Peter in choir and I frankly did not believe him when he told me he was in choir. So at which point, Peter marched down the hallway to my friend Dave's room, as Dave was in choir with us. Peter woke Dave up and asked him whether he was in choir with us. Dave turned to me and said, "of course Vicki!"
Boy was I embarrassed! In any case, thanks to Peter's persistence, and he would also say the help to his TV.... since I liked watching Days of Our Lives each day, the rest is history!!!

When we got married in 1995, there was NO SUCH THING at digital photography. So literally we took a photo of a photo to share memories of our special day on this blog. 

Though we were living in Washington, DC in 1995, we decided to have our wedding in Scarsdale, NY, where I grew up and most of our family and friends lived. We even got married in the church we used to attend when I was living in New York. 
There was a lot of activity in my room before the wedding. Which of course included a photographer capturing these special moments. 
The day we got married it was over 100 degrees with humidity. I am not sure how any of us managed photos outside for what seemed like an hour. 
Peter and I with my parents. 
Peter and I with Peter's parents.
Me with my lifetime friend and maid of honor, Karen. Karen and I have known each other since 6th grade!
I still keep in contact with three out of my four bridesmaids. Karen is my lifetime friend from NY, and Jen and Colleen are wonderful friends I met when pursuing a master's degree at Boston College. My fourth bridesmaid is Christina, who we went to college with, but unfortunately we lost track of her when she moved to Colorado. 

Left to right: Jen, Karen, me, Colleen, and Christina

Peter and our groomsmen. 

Left to right: Rich (a childhood friend of Peter's), Dave (the same person who Peter woke up to prove we were in choir together), Peter, Chris (Peter's brother), and David (Jen's, one of our bridesmaids, husband)

All of us together standing outside in TREMENDOUS heat!

In honor of the day we went to Chez Francois. It is my favorite restaurant to celebrate special events and occasions. Their outdoor patio is like no other. It is so relaxing and peaceful, as you are surrounded by trees, beautiful plantings, and have hummingbirds and butterflies flying by. 
Peter and I both appreciate the stellar service at the restaurant. They follow old world traditions and they pace the meal so you are never rushed. Which is UNHEARD of today in our fast paced world. 

There are gardens and fountains that surround us. This was one of the scenes our table overlooked. 

Here was another scene I could see from our table. See the man in the background by the building. He was refilling the hummingbird feeders, and WOW were there many hummingbirds around us!
Another glorious table scene. I absolutely love the red chairs and umbrellas, perhaps because this is my favorite color. 
Now if you look at the center of this begonia, you will see black wings of a butterfly. We had many butterfly fly overs, which of course to me meant Mattie was with us. 
The way this restaurant works is that you get a four course lunch. You select an appetizer, you get a garden salad, followed by an entree of your choice, and dessert. 

Peter started with three different kinds of salmon. 
I started with gazpacho. It was delicious on a hot day. 
Then Peter had lamb. 
I had trout almondine. 
For special occasions the restaurant always brings you their ice cream covered in meringue. Typically I am not a meringue person, but theirs is STELLAR.

In addition to this dessert, came two others..... a chocolate souffle and a baked Alaska. 
One of the highlights of my dining experience there is ordering hot tea. Why? Because I am in love with their cute tea pots! What an elegant and refined way to be served tea! Rather than just a cup or worse a metal container with hot water.

We sat at our table for a couple of hours. Not rushed, in a tranquil environment and able to talk about all sorts of things together. Peter has a memory like a steel trap, so we talked about some of our vacations, reflections from our wedding day, and of course what life is like for us without Mattie. These are hard conversations, but yet we can discuss them without feeling blame or guilt. Which is a wonderful gift because some of what we have to say really wouldn't or couldn't be heard, understood, or appreciated by most people.  

July 14, 2017

Friday, July 14, 2017

Friday, July 14, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2002. Mattie was three months old and I had him on the couch propped up with pillows. To me his look was precious and priceless! Don't you just love his eyes and his look of inquisitiveness! If we only knew what he was thinking of!

Quote of the day: Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Sunny went to the groomer's today. This is typically something he DOESN'T like doing. However, some things like staying clean are not negotiable. I have met the groomer several times and I like her and Sunny seems to have a rapport with her. He is just not thrilled with the facility that houses the groomer, which is why I won't board him there. In any case, when we entered the doggie day care today, the woman behind the front desk let out with a big "good morning Sunny Bunny!" With that Sunny's tail started wagging. It was the first time I saw him actually happy rather than bolting for the door. Naturally as soon as I turned around to leave him behind, he wanted to come with me. At the end of the day..... you should see how handsome he looks, not to mention smells so much better. Sunny gets groomed once a month and we have been doing this together since we got him in September of 2016. So 11 months of this, he should be getting used to the routine!

Typically on grooming days I have my licensure board meeting. But today's meeting was canceled. Nonetheless, I started my list of to dos..... starting with grocery shopping. Though we live in DC, we RARELY shop in DC. Because Mattie's preschool and elementary school were in Alexandria, this is typically where I do ALL our shopping. Rather funny if you think about it! In any case, as I was entering Safeway this morning, I heard someone say "hi Vicki." I turned around and it was one of my friends from Mattie's preschool. Alexandria City isn't a small place, but I swear you can't go anywhere there without bumping into someone. Totally NOT true in DC, which is a typical city. 

Any case, Safeway had a credit card processing problem this morning. Not just this store, but it was system wide. NO Safeway store was accepting credit or debit cards. Literally panic ensued in the store. People abandoned their shopping carts full of food right at the counter because they couldn't check out! I am telling you it was a scene. So much so, that while my friend and I were talking, we literally greeted each person coming into the store and alerted them about the credit card issue. I felt like Safeway should have hired us, because we literally created quite a greeting committee. 

Later in the day I met up with another friend from Mattie's preschool days. Mattie went to preschool 12 years ago, yet so many of these moms and I remain friends. I am not sure if that says something about the preschool, Mattie, me, or losing Mattie. Many of these preschool moms are also dedicated volunteers of the Foundation. Rather incredible if you think about it. However in both cases in the morning and the afternoon, I had the opportunity to listen to my friends as they were sharing thoughts, issues, and concerns. After both encounters, they told me how much they appreciated me. Mind you I gave them nothing more than my time, my ears, and my perspectives. I would say Eleanor Roosevelt was correct, as I know I receive joy (though not sure that is the word I'd use) from helping others. 

Later this afternoon, we had one of those incredible DC thunderstorms. Lightning, thunder, whipping wind, and rain. Rain going side ways. Not sure my picture does it justice. But at times it was like white out conditions, as we couldn't see buildings across the street from us. 
Meanwhile this was happening under my desk and on my feet. Sunny gets very scared by the thunder and lightning and heads for cover! Usually he goes into my walk in closet, but apparently hiding under the desk by my feet was today's safety plan! It reminds me of when I was going to high school in Los Angeles. In California you not only have fire drills, you also have earthquake drills. What you do in an earthquake is sit under a desk (because we were in school). The desk in theory will protect you from objects falling during a quake. Sunny transported me back to high school today.  

July 13, 2017

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2002. Mattie was three months old and FULLY on. The ironic thing about Mattie was he looked more like Peter throughout the first year of his life. After that point, he looked like the spitting image of me. They say children don't smile until they are around three months old, but I refuse to believe all of Mattie's initial smiles were some sort of reflex. To me Mattie learned to smile very early on as his facial gestures coincided with something that was humorous. 

Quote of the day: Without ice cream, there would be darkness and chaos. Don Kardong

Each summer, I get together with my friend's cousin, JP. JP lives in Boston but stays with my friend two weeks out of every year. When he is in town, we always go on a food adventure together, as he likes to eat. He is like the very hungry caterpillar. Basically always eating, but in his case, never gets heavy or full! My friend Tina joined the food adventure today and she snapped a selfie of us (me, JP, and Tina)!

It was a true food adventure, because Tina and I thought we were taking JP to Holy Cow. Holy Cow is known for their specialty burgers, a food JP loves. They use all sorts of meats and fish. But while in route to Holy Cow the JP changed his mind. He wanted to go somewhere else. It was like a scene out of a comedy show. 
Because JP wanted to go to a restaurant called Johnny Rockets, I turned the car around and headed to the mall in Pentagon City. Literally we got to the mall, parked, and walked all the way to where Johnny Rockets was located. The word to emphasize is WAS! The restaurant closed down!!!
We tried to convince JP to eat at another restaurant in the mall, but that didn't work for him. So we all got back into the car again, and headed BACK to Alexandria to eat at his selected restaurant, Five Guys. I think we got our share of exercise today just finding a restaurant. 

After lunch we went to a new ice cream store called Nice Cream. Literally they make the ice cream in front of you using milk, cream, and fresh items like fruits. Then they add nitrogen liquid and the concoction freezes right before your eyes.  
This is the sign that greets you outside the shop. It basically is owned by a local family who wanted to bring "back the art of crafting ice cream." I would say coming into this shop is a complete visual experience!
Behind the counter are at least 6 large mixers. You order your flavor and the person crafts it right before your eyes. 
This is what it looks like when she added the liquid nitrogen. All I know is if Mattie were with us, he would have found this absolutely fantastic! The science of this would have intrigued him. 
This is the interior of the store. I am not sure about JP, but I am quite sure Tina and I won't be forgetting this day any time soon. Ending on this sweet note, was the way to go. 

July 12, 2017

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2007. We took Mattie to Pennsylvania to experience Dutch Country. While there, we came across a train museum. Mattie LOVED anything with wheels and locomotion. While walking around the museum, there was a TV monitor that captured you as you were walking by. Mattie loved seeing himself and Peter on TV. So naturally I had to snap a photo of the TV monitor! Who knows why I was so picture happy, but I was, and now I am grateful I captured the special moments as well as daily life with Mattie. 

Quote of the day: If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody. Chinese Proverb

This is a photo I downloaded from the internet. I did it to illustrate what I will be talking about in tonight's blog. For the past two days, I have had the chance occurrence to observe two people with a J shaped prosthetic. Like the prosthetic you see in this photo. I have seen these prosthetics before, typically at cancer events. However, I have never seen people in my everyday life with a prosthetic like this. Yesterday while I was in CVS, there were two teenagers in the store on line waiting to check out. As is typical with teenagers, they were chatty and partly goofy. For the most part I was only observing them from the waist up. However, as I was walking out of the store, I noticed the young girl in this duo had a J shaped prosthetic. 

Today while walking Sunny by the Potomac River, a young man was jogging passed us. Considering it was a broiling hot and humid day, his activity and speed caught my attention. Again, just like the young girl, what I initially observed in this fellow was from the waist up. Yet as he continued passed me, I looked down at his feet, and there was the J shaped prosthetic. 

The J shaped prosthetic is comprised of carbon fiber and it is considered a running foot, an ideal choice for runners. This type of foot is compressed by body weight and returns to its original shape as you push off of it. The result of this compression and decompression of the blade is that energy is released as you push off allowing you to run more efficiently by minimizing the amount of energy you need to expend.

Why am I mentioning this? Mainly because when seeing these individuals my first reaction was..... are they cancer survivors? Specifically an osteosarcoma survivor, the same disease that took Mattie's life. I wish I had the opportunity to talk to both of them. Clearly there are a host of other reasons why someone may need a prosthetic, but at the time, the only thing I could think of was osteosarcoma. This is how I see the world now as cancer and non-cancer. 

In both cases, no one else around me was looking at these individuals with the J shaped prosthetic. Which perplexed me. Mainly because when Mattie was battling cancer, we got NON-STOP looks from just about everyone in public! As if they feared they were going to contract some sort of contagion from Mattie. Regardless of how well functioning these individuals appear to be in public, I know that there is a psychosocial story behind their medical experiences and living life without a limb. 

Prior to Mattie getting cancer, I am not sure seeing these individuals would have intrigued me as much as it does now. I truly believe that seeing Mattie struggle with cancer, has enabled me to see beyond the exterior facade of people, such as the prosthetics. Instead my interest becomes trying to understand the psychological ramifications of having a disease or looking different as a result of treatment. 

The point is I have a feeling the majority of the world looks at the J shaped foot and says either.... wow isn't it incredible how this person uses this prosthetic, or how sad this person no longer has a leg. Neither of these things would cross my mind anyone, because ultimately I am more curious about the psychosocial impact, feelings, and thoughts that have arisen for these individuals because of their life's circumstances. 

July 11, 2017

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 -- Mattie died 408 weeks ago today. 

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2007. Mattie was five years old and LOVED collecting tent moth caterpillars in the spring. In fact when he first brought a caterpillar home I was in shock! But instead of dispensing with it, I went with it and decided to jar it and figure out what to feed it, until it produced a cocoon and finally a moth! Mattie was in LOVE with the idea. We have no caterpillars near us in DC, which was why Mattie always imported them from Alexandria, where his schools were located. Mattie and I enjoyed watching the metamorphosis process together and we learned several things from this experience but the top two were that these caterpillars prefer oak leaves and second, they are messy creatures and their jar had to be cleaned out every other day! Of course once they became moths, we always had a moth releasing ceremony on our deck. So when ever I see moths now on our deck, I remember those many ceremonies we had! 

Quote of the day: To ease another’s heartache is to forget one’s own. ~ Abraham Lincoln

Those who know me well, know that I live my life following the philosophy... ONE DAY AT A TIME. I wish I could claim this philosophy as my own, but unfortunately the credit goes to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). I remember as a graduate student in Counseling being required to go to an AA meeting. The purpose of the assignment was to learn about the 12 step philosophy, hear the voices of those impacted by alcohol, and report back on our thoughts and feelings about the experience. What I can say is that AA group was an experience I can recall vividly even today, it made that much of an impact on me. Mainly because the people in the meeting were ALL working professionals, they had careers, they were dressed in suits, and were earning a good income. That was their exterior life. Of course if you cracked the shell and delved into their daily lives and routines, you saw a very fragile picture. I have to admit back then when I heard people saying, "one day at a time," I thought it was a catchy phrase but its significance and meaning did not really hit me until Mattie died. 

I don't want you to think I am equating addiction to grief. These are two separate issues, with different origins and different needs for support. But with that said, they have several things in common.... 1) the issues are not short term, rather they last a life time, 2) set backs can be triggered by stressors, holidays, or milestones, and 3) connecting and relating to others is challenging at best making it difficult to lead a 'normal' life. In fact, because both issues are pervasive and forever present in one's life as well as impact one's ability to have a future, it is easy to become disillusioned and worry that you will be unable to sustain and manage with these feelings for another day. Which is why living in the moment, and appreciating that you were able to cope in any given second enables you to eventually survive from second to second, minute to minute, hour to hour, to eventually day to day.     

Why am I bringing this up tonight? Well it is because of an interaction I had today with a friend. This friend is very close to her son, and he just got into college. He is the first generation to go to college, so this is a huge achievement for this fellow and family. However, saying good-bye to her son is difficult for her, and yet she knows he has to do this so that he can have a chance at a solid future. In any case, the last time I saw her, she was in tears. She wasn't sure how she was going to cope with his leaving. Naturally I listened and then shared with her the ONE DAY AT A TIME philosophy. When I saw her today, she thanked me out of the blue. She said she is managing because she takes it one day at a time. That made me smile because it isn't just words I spout out, but instead a way of life. One in which I share with anyone who is dealing with a loss, a loss of any kind. Seeing the full picture of the loss truly serves NO PURPOSE. It is overwhelming and your life can feel like it is caving in on itself. Instead, taking the loss and what feelings and thoughts it brings each day makes it more bearable. 

All I know is when Mattie died, I went from future focused to present focused. I do not like thinking about the future, and typically will avoid this conversation at all costs. Of course there are days I do revert back to being future oriented and it isn't pretty. Mainly because it feels like I am having an existential crisis. Wondering what my life will look like in the future without having a child, someone who can be there for me when and if I get sick, someone to pass down traditions and family heirlooms to and the LIST GOES ON. 

July 10, 2017

Monday, July 10, 2017

Monday, July 10, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2007. I recently found this photo on our Shutterfly account. Don't ask me where this photo went in my computer files. It was gone. Thankfully we have photos backed up on-line because to me this photo is priceless. It captures Mattie's creativity! I could try to describe Mattie's sandbox scene on our deck, but don't you think the photo does it justice??? 

Mattie was pretending that the sandbox lid was a boat. He had his fishing pole out and was using his toys as fish! But this photo helps you understand all the toys Mattie would drag outside and place either in the sand or his pool. Life with Mattie was anything but boring. 

Quote of the day: We might think we are nurturing our garden, but of course it's our garden that is really nurturing us. Jenny Uglow

A view from my desk, which is in Mattie's room. This is like our secret garden in the middle of the city!

I was listening to a country music artist being interviewed the other day. He was talking about the songs he writes and sings about, all of which focus on REGRET. An interesting subject actually, as he said writing about love, dreams, and so forth is NOT realistic. As life is filled with all the tough stuff and his listeners bond and relate to him through his music. Music which he feels help us as we move through various points in our lives. Needless to say hearing his interview remained with me for several days, so much so, that I am writing about it here. 

We all regret various things in life. Perhaps something we said to someone, our behavior to a family member or friend, or not being present in someone's life when we were needed. We wouldn't be human if we did not regret something. However, parents who have a sick child, or worse have experienced a death of a child, sometimes are filled with the what if's, I should of's, or in other words REGRET. It would be hard not to have regret. Naturally when I heard this artist talk about his life experiences, I applied what he was saying to my own life, in the context of Mattie. 

Prior to Mattie developing cancer, so many decisions had to be made. Decisions that other parents face with typically developing children. Such as employment for example. Starting from day one, I had to decide whether I was going to work full-time or not. Once I completed my dissertation, a year after Mattie was born, I was offered a great job at a governmental agency. The same agency I conducted my dissertation research. The agency wanted to create a position for me in which I would be running their work-life division, within their employee assistance program. It would have been a grade 13/14 position, which is typically not the starting grade for someone coming into the government system, especially in the psychological field. Despite this incredible opportunity, I felt like I couldn't effectively balance raising Mattie and this full time job. At the time, I may have felt guilty or had some regret, because  I knew employment like this doesn't come around often in my field. 

However, this ultimately was the best decision I made. Because if I had worked full time, I would have missed out on Mattie's very short life. If I had taken on this job, I now would be feeling GREAT regret. Regret that I did not spend more time with Mattie, regret that I may have missed out on his milestones, regret that I couldn't volunteer in his classrooms, and regret that we did not have so many adventures together.  I can safely say I have NONE of these regrets. Mattie was always my priority and even in his death, his Foundation is my priority. 

When Mattie battled cancer, I was always right by his side. Despite pleas from some of the medical personnel who insisted I take a break! I did not listen to them, and fortunately I didn't! Nothing is worse than feeling regret over how you raised or cared for your child! I would say living with the memories of Mattie's cancer battle and his horrific and painful death is bad enough, but if these reflections and feelings were complicated with regret, I think it would make the situation volatile! 

Yet I would say that I have been forever changed by Mattie. I understand that the decisions and choices we make in life do have consequences and we need to be cognizant of how we react, behave, and treat others because our actions not only impact them, but they have a way of permanently affecting and altering our own lives. 

July 9, 2017

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2007. A year before Mattie was diagnosed with cancer. He was five years old and as you can see was smiling because he was happy about his big pool that sat on our deck. I will never forget when he and Peter came back from Target with this purchase. At first my instinct was to say.... no way! But naturally I understood that Mattie need to experience fun with water. What was unusual about this photo was the fact that NONE of Mattie's toys were in the pool with him. Mattie always dumped cars, trucks, and all sorts of toys in the pool, as play time with Mattie was anything but boring. 

Quote of the day: We don't meet anyone by chance. ~ Avijeet Das

We took several walks with Sunny today. Both in Washington, DC and Alexandria, VA. Sunny gets around. It was a hot day, but that doesn't stop him. 

Near where we live, Peter snapped this photo along our walk of these incredible Black Eyed Susans. They are one of my favorites and they come back every year guiding our way home. 
Along our walk in Alexandria, we came across this vine. As we looked closer, we could see that tiny pumpkins were beginning to form. 

No matter where we walk Sunny, people always stop us to say.... "what type of dog is this?" or "what a beautiful dog" or better yet.... "can we pet your dog!!!"

I snapped this photo of the beautiful colors on display here.... coleus and begonias plants. 
Our walk by the Potomac River, was FILLED with people. They were everywhere, because it was a beautiful day out. I snapped a photo of boaters and paddle boarders. 
This is our local spray ground. It did not exist when Mattie was alive. Literally people had lawn chairs and umbrellas out today lining this fountain. Kids of all ages were running around and playing in the water. It almost looked like an urban beach!