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

August 5, 2017

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Saturday, August 5, 2017 

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2008. We were home from the hospital, which was a rare occurrence, and Mattie decided to create a big face made out of a cardboard box. Mattie loved cardboard boxes and he had quite an imagination with them. He created a haunted house out of a box, an apartment building with its own elevator, a car, a boat, a plane, a house, and the list went on! This was classic Mattie and his art therapists and child life specialist caught on quickly. They would save all sorts of packing boxes for Mattie, because they knew he would enjoy working on them in his hospital room. Thank goodness for these creativity projects, as they kept us all sane. 

Quote of the day: The purpose you wish to find in life, like a cure you seek, is not going to fall from the sky.... I believe purpose is something for which one is responsible; it's not just divinely assigned. ~ Michael J Fox

Today was a day both Peter and I were agitated. Peter most likely understood why since he is more clued into dates and time than me. Unless I am looking at a calendar, I truly am not always oriented to days on the calendar. However, as I sat down to write tonight's blog, I looked at the calendar on my computer. There low and behold was today's date.... August 5th. This is a day that neither Peter nor I shall ever forget. Why? Because on August 5, 2009, we learned that Mattie's case was terminal. Cancer had spread throughout his body, only six weeks off of chemotherapy. I remember the shock and horror of the day so vividly, and whether you believe it or not, the reverberations from that day 8 years later still affect our lives today. So much so that neither one of us was quite right today. Now I know why. 

Earlier in the week, I got an email notification from the Kennedy Center for discounted tickets tonight or tomorrow night for the King and I. Without thinking I got tickets for tonight's show. Again, totally not paying attention to what the actual date is today! If I was cognizant of the date, I would never have chosen to go to the musical tonight. As I take anniversary dates seriously. When I was a child, my parents used to take me to all sorts of musicals. I loved the stories, the music, the grand sets and costumes. This was something I always hoped to share with Mattie. Unfortunately Mattie did not live long enough for this to happen. Which of course saddens me deeply. As I go to the show tonight, I have mixed feelings and I am upset with myself that I booked something on a date that changed our lives forever. 

To put today into context for you, I have copied and posted the blog from 8 years ago below. 


Blog Posting from August 5, 2009

Tonight, I write with a heavy heart to let you know that Mattie's fight is coming to an end. We learned today, after I insisted on an ultrasound and an abdominal CT scan, that Mattie's cancer has spread back to his lungs, as well as his liver and stomach. It is everywhere! This is a fast moving disease in Mattie, because you will remember he had a sternotomy in June, and every known osteo lung tumor was removed at that point. Almost two months later, there are tumors everywhere.

Mattie has been complaining of stomach pain since May. In May, we started running tests for an ulcer, but as many of you know, we did not get the test results back until last week. Part of me wishes we did an ultrasound and abdominal CT scan in May, but then again, that most likely wouldn't have changed the outcome of things. One thing is certain though, I know my son. I stuck to my convictions that something medically was wrong with Mattie and that this was the explanation for him not eating and drinking. This wasn't a psychological issue, and I knew this in my heart of hearts. Clearly today, medical science confirmed what a mother's love knew all along. I just wish medical doctors would listen to us more often! When I called the hospital this morning, they told me they couldn't fit Mattie in today for testing, so I booked an ultrasound for Friday. Then Ann called me and she asked me in a nice way, what I was doing about this scheduling issue? I am not sure if I gave up the will to fight or was just exhausted, since I would have challenged this testing delay in the past. But the more I thought about what Ann was saying, the more I realized I had to mobilize forces and advocate once again to get this testing done today. Thank you Ann for the courage and support to do the right thing.

I also want to acknowledge Linda (Mattie's child life specialist) today. She helped me every step of the way, getting the ultrasound and CT scans done, quickly and timely. After all I did not have appointments for either, we were add ons. But Linda can make anything happen at the hospital, and I can't say enough about how much she means to us.

Today, I fought every step of the way to make sure Mattie not only received an ultrasound, but a CT scan. Mattie's doctors did not feel he needed both, of course, until a large mass was spotted in the ultrasound. So in essence Mattie went through an ultrasound (smoothly thanks to Linda, and his DS player - something he never plays with, but it caught his attention today) first. I started getting very edgy during the ultrasound, because the tech asked Linda what type of cancer Mattie had. I thought that was a telling question to ask during the test and this prompted my immediate attention and concern. I couldn't shake that question all afternoon. After the ultrasound, Mattie and I sat outside the hospital in the rose garden and had lunch. Normally Mattie doesn't want to sit still, but today was different. He had me telling stories about his baby years. I retold the story of how he was born, how he learned to sleep, walk, and talk. None of these things came easy to Mattie, but he learned them, and through these struggles, Mattie and I became very close. When my mom describes Mattie as an extension of me, she isn't kidding! This is a fair assessment! The conversation in the garden today was so special, loving, and priceless moment between us, which I will never forget. Unfortunately this moment, was disturbed when the doctor called to tell me she saw a mass in Mattie's liver, and would need to do a CT scan.

Mattie seemed concerned that he had to take an unscheduled CT scan later this afternoon. He had to drink a contract dye, and then also had to have one injected through his central line. The prospect of the injected dye sent Mattie into a state of anxiety. He did not want to do the test, and it took a great deal of effort and calmness to talk him through the process. Peter left work today, so he was with me, and Linda also came to provide assistance. Linda is great at managing the techs, who clearly need managing. This tech had no empathy or understanding for what Mattie has and continues to go through. She was in fact annoyed that he wasn't complying with her instructions. Linda removed the tech from the room, and I basically had to give Mattie a pep talk so that he would tolerate the test. I told him I knew he was scared, that he did not want to go through the CT scan, but I had confidence he could do it. I told him there is nothing he can't do if he puts his mind to it. He eventually settled down and the test was completed.

When we got home, the doctor called us with the news. She actually did not want to tell me over the phone, but there was NO way I was going to wait until tomorrow. Needless to say, Peter and I are devastated. As you know, I follow the story of Sammie, a young teen with osteosarcoma in California. She too is dying from this hateful disease, and I always marvel how her family is managing and supporting Sammie. I always feared that Mattie was going to die because of the severity of his illness, but to some extent I lived with some hope. Today the hope within me is dead. I do not know how Peter and I will handle Mattie's disease progression and pain, nor do I know how you live without your child? It goes against the laws of nature to see your child suffer and die before you. Part of me is in shock and not in touch with my emotions yet. Which makes writing tonight very difficult.

Peter and I spent the evening sitting in silence and occasionally walking around. Caring for Mattie tonight was truly challenging, since our minds and hearts are racing. Mattie doesn't know about his disease progression. I haven't figured out how to proceed with that, so for now, I would appreciate this not be discussed around Mattie. After all, he gave the fight of his life this year, and now was supposed to be the recovery time. In fact, today, he told me he misses walking, and wants to walk again. This whole day is heart breaking, and I can't get over all we put Mattie through just to get to the point which we most feared. The words of Sloan Kettering come back to haunt me, as they always will. Sloan felt that Mattie's disease should NOT be aggressively treated since he was most likely going to die. Funny, how I thought that perhaps all our efforts could change the course of Mattie's future. What I have learned through all of this is we humans control very little. We only delude ourselves into this false complacency.

August 4, 2017

Friday, August 4, 2017

Friday, August 4, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2008. Mattie was a month into treatment. I really almost forgot about this until I saw this photo. Anna, Mattie's physical therapist, wanted to introduce Mattie to a wheelchair prior to his surgeries. She had to first locate a child wheelchair within the hospital, as they were not as common. So in this photo Mattie was experiencing what it would be like in a wheelchair and while in the chair they were having a physical therapy session. Anna wanted to keep Mattie's body in shape prior to the surgeries, which wasn't an easy project, given that he was undergoing high dose chemotherapy and adjusting to its various side effects. 

Quote of the day: We love our dogs and they love us, unconditionally. Oxytocin seals the deal. ~ From the Article Below

I was walking down the street today in DC. It is as hot as blazes out and for the most part people were sticking to themselves. However, there was an adorable golden retriever puppy walking down the side walk with his owners and the reactions I was observing were incredible. I mean NOTEWORTHY! People walking and in cars were stopping to smile and watch this puppy! Honestly you would think the people on the streets of DC have NEVER seen something cute or cuddly before. That of course is a different blog and problem! Naturally I thought the puppy was cute, but I was more fascinated to understand the phenomenon unfolding around me. (NOTE: I downloaded this photo from the internet, as I didn't think it would be wise snapping photos on my phone of people all around me staring at a dog!)

People have been trying to understand the bond between dog and human for years. Science wants explanations for the phenomenon I witnessed on the street today and naturally they turn to something quantifiable. As a result the release of the hormone, oxytocin, was assessed! Many of us are familiar with this hormone as we have heard about it during any basic biology class, as it is a hormone that usually triggers labor, and it is well known to be secreted in new moms. As it is a hormone associated with human bonding. But what about with our dogs? Do we release oxytocin when interacting with our dogs? Well scientists wanted answers. They wanted to know what was going on when humans and dogs stared longingly in each others eyes! What they found was that this eye contact stimulated the release of oxytocin in BOTH the human and the dogs. Fascinating no?! 

Based on studies with service dogs, who develop very close bonds with their patients, scientists believe that supplements of oxytocin could provide promise as a treatment to reduce anxiety in people with post-traumatic stress disorder and help those on the autism spectrum build social skills. All I know is that I have many more people, who I don't know, talking to me because I am walking Sunny. Dogs have a way of breaking down barriers and making it safer to have conversation. But what I noticed too about Sunny, is that when Peter takes him to work, people in the office find his presence therapeutic. They may not use that term, but in essence that is what I reading between the lines. When Sunny doesn't visit the office for a week, people want to know when he is coming back. Which begs a bigger question.... shouldn't dogs be allowed in all workplaces? If our furry friends enable bonding, social interaction, and reduce anxiety, isn't that a culture we want carried into every place of business? 

Those puppy-dog eyes trigger chemical connection with humans:

August 3, 2017

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2008. Mattie was a month into treatment. We were pictured in the outpatient clinic, at the art table. Mattie's two art therapists, Jenny (in orange) and Jessie (next to us), were beyond outstanding. These two women entered our lives almost on day one, and I don't know where we would have been without them. Not only did they believe that art came from within the child, they also were very insightful and excellent at helping Mattie get at his feelings and emotions through his art. It was never contrived or planned, but natural! These women set a beautiful, trusting, and respectful tone that produced not only wonderful creations from Mattie, but on difficult days helped Mattie get out of his shell. I am not sure these therapists know this, but all the art Mattie created while battling cancer, I now consider legacy items that we cherish. When people think childhood cancer is ALL about the medicine, I just shake my head. At the end of the day it is how you were TREATED as a person that remains with you always. The medications, dosages, and so forth fade from consciousness. 

Quote of the day: Formal education teaches how to stand, but to see the rainbow you must come out and walk many steps on your own.Amit Ray

It was a full day of one chore after the other. Regardless of what I have to do, Sunny still needs to be walked. One thing is certain about Sunny.... he knows how to get his needs met. At times I feel like a sheep being herded by Sunny. Based on Sunny's breed he has a natural instinct to herd things, but he doesn't do this with Peter. Only I am the lucky one. Later this evening while out walking Sunny, I met my next door neighbor outside. She grew up on a sheep and cattle farm, so she is very familiar with herding dogs. The first thing she said to me tonight was that Sunny looks like he has settled down. I looked at her quisitively. She then explained that when we first got Sunny he looked very anxious, but now she says he is like a different dog. She credited that to me, with my time and patience with him. I would have to agree. Sunny skews nervous, and has anxieties. I am hoping in time he will learn that we aren't going to abandon him and that he has consistent access to food. FOOD is Sunny's number 1. He will give up walks and love for FOOD. He is always food seeking and I have to believe this is part of being rescued. Yet something I need to work on with him, because regardless of how much we walk, he gains weight. 

This evening I went grocery shopping. As is typical in DC during the summer.... we get horrific rain, thunder, and lightning storms. Before I got to the store, it wasn't raining. But while inside the store, I could hear thunder and lightning. However, I was in the store no enough that when I exited it, look what I saw. A wonderful rainbow. It was the highlight of my day. 

As I was seeing the sight above, my friend in cancer sent me this photo from her home. So we traded rainbow photos! Mattie loved rainbows and as is typical of me, whenever something special like this occurs in nature, I view it as a sign from Mattie. 

August 2, 2017

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2008. This is almost a follow up photo from the one I posted last night. Last night you saw Mattie looking at rocks by the Hospital's medical library. But this was what was happening. Mattie and his IV pole were allowed outside to the courtyard to get fresh air and for Mattie to enjoy his visit with his cousins. The lady bending down with us is Miki, one of Mattie's HEM/ONC nurses. Now keep in mind that Miki was working on the fifth floor of the hospital, but in order to give Mattie outdoor time, rode down the elevator to the second floor outdoor courtyard to check on his IV pump. So a month into treatment, I knew Mattie's nurses were very special women. 

Quote of the day: I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet, strange, I am ungrateful to those teachers. ~ Khalil Gibran

Sunny and I drove to Crofton, MD today. I have never been to Crofton, but it is on the way to Annapolis. It is about 50 minutes from where I live in DC. We went to visit Kristen. Kristen is a social worker by training and we met each other soon after Mattie died. She was one of the people moderating a conference panel that I participated on for a palliative care conference. Since that time, I have remained in contact with Kristen. When I met Kristen she did not have any children. Now she has three very cute and charming boys..... Ryan, Zachary, and Connor. 

As you can see Sunny was a happy camper and so were the boys! I don't think Sunny has a mean bone in his body, nothing upsets him and I have never heard him growl. Which is why I know he would be the perfect therapy dog. 

These three boys would like a dog of their own. So in a way, Sunny was a test pilot today. Of course NOT every dog is like Sunny. 

I had the opportunity to visit Kristen, because she is interested in starting her own 501c3. Not related to childhood cancer, but that is okay since I have found that there are some basic commonalities to all non-profits. So I was happy to share my lessons learned from running Mattie Miracle.  
Connor thought Sunny was comfy like a pillow!
Kristen created an organization in her community focused on random acts of kindness. Outside in her backyard, she has a "Kindness Rock Garden." She and her boys decorated all these rocks and they welcome neighbors to take a rock and even create a rock of their own. However, Kristen's organization does more than just create rocks. She is focused on education, awareness, and community events that inspire kindness. 
Kristen and the boys gave me my own Mattie Miracle kindness rock. It is already in my garden. 
Today is a day I will NEVER forget!!!! Why? Because I was certain I LOST Indie, our cat. Indie LOVES outdoor time on our deck. You can see her hanging out on a chair. This chair gives her the bird's eye look, to watch all the activity in the sky. Every morning I give Indie outdoor time. I keep our front door open, so she can come in at will, and I latch shut our deck door, so she can't escape. Indie seems to understand NOT to jump the walls over our deck, so for the most part she really can be trusted out there unsupervised. Naturally I check on her periodically. This morning when Sunny and I were ready to leave for Crofton, I went outside to bring Indie in. When I looked on the deck, I couldn't find Indie. She wasn't hiding, there just was NO Indie. Then I looked at the deck door and it was UNLATCHED. Don't ask me how that happened because I am certain I latched it shut as I always do. Any case, I worked myself up into a silly, thinking that Indie went out the deck door and could be anywhere. I called her, Sunny and I walked all over our commons area looking for her. But there was NO Indie. I even went around the perimeter of the building. Of course by this time, I was already late for my Crofton appointment. Fortunately Kristen understood. 

Peter is in Oklahoma, but I called him in a panic. Once I calmed down, I then began to think logically. I knew I hadn't left her outside long, so if she got out, I would have seen her. Which led me to believe she had to BE INSIDE. But was HIDING!!! 

Inside Mattie's bedroom is a walk in closet. It is my catch all closet for everything. Including Foundation stuff. Do you see that stack of boxes? Well I moved those boxes and took a flashlight behind them. 
Indie had crawled behind the boxes and tucked herself down behind all my things, between the wall and the floor. When I flashed a light in that tight space, I saw two eyes reflecting back at me. I FOUND her! But she scared me to death today. I thought I was going to have to report a missing cat to the rescue shelter, which is what is required of us in our contract!

Indie is a piece of work because I was calling her for over thirty minutes, all over the place and she NEVER responded. It is the temperament of a cat!!!

August 1, 2017

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Tuesday, August 1, 2017 -- Mattie died 411 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2008, during Mattie's first month of chemotherapy. On the second floor of the hospital was an outdoor courtyard. A place we used to escape to during pleasant days. If Mattie was receiving hydration (which was basically all the time!!), we would roll him outside with his IV in tow. We were very lucky that Mattie's nurses understood the importance of getting fresh air and seeing the outside world. They would come down an check on him periodically while we were outside. One of the places Mattie used to visit in the courtyard was the stone garden near the medical library. Mattie was a collector of objects in nature prior to cancer, but once cancer impacted his life, we did not go on nature walks anymore, because they were impossible to do in a wheelchair. Yet throughout Mattie's treatment we went to this rock garden. To this day, we still have a LARGE rock Mattie took from this garden. It is our front door stop during warm weather months! As you can see in this photo, Mattie was showing rocks to his cousin Will who came down from Boston to visit us.  

Quote of the day: Approximately 18% of Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder and the rate of youth depression increased from 8.5% in 2011 to over 11.1% in 2014. ~ Journal of Pediatrics

Peter sent me an article yesterday entitled, The Therapy Robot that Lives in Facebook Messenger wants to Treat your Anxiety.  I know he sent it to me to see how I would react. I would say I had a whole range of emotions as I was reading this article. I tried to put my mental health professional hat aside, and evaluate what I was reading as a mom who saw Mattie struggle with anxiety during cancer treatment. Not to mention even for myself, contending with all sorts of issues after died died. During Mattie's battle with cancer, my cell phone became a vital part of my life, it was like a fifth appendage in a way. My lifeline to information and communication with others. As Mattie got sicker, he wanted to hear NO talking!! Therefore, all my dialogues with people (EVEN PETER) were through written messages on the phone. I am mentioning this because I know FIRST HAND how therapeutic written messages can be. BUT, the one caveat is I knew that at the other end of my message was a LIVE human recipient. I wasn't communicating with a computer, nor was I getting a formulaic response back. 

Dr. Alison Darcy, a former adjunct professor at Duke University, left her academic position to become the founder and CEO of her own company, Woebot Labs, Inc. Keep in mind she is a clinical psychologist and is well aware of the growing mental health epidemic in our country and most certainly with young people in general. She is quite upfront about the fact that Woebot is not therapy, nor should take the place of a skilled professional. 

So what is Woebot? It is a "digital therapist." It was crafted by Stanford engineers with a touch of artificial intelligence magic to be “your charming robot friend who is ready to listen, 24/7.” In the article, Darcy stated that she "believes the chirpy chatbot is useful for different problems, be it breakups, death, or illness, but it was originally built for two issues plaguing American society, and specifically high school and college students: anxiety and depression. Woebot ushers users through a process of learning about oneself and how one’s thinking can potentially be biased, skewed, and undermining one’s health. But you ultimately have to do all the work and all the learning yourself.” 

Originally when created a Woebot user would receive messages every other day, but recipients really demanded daily touch points, and the company is accommodating. In fact, there is a cost to using Woebot..... $12 per week or $39 per month following a two-week trial, roughly (as the company mentions) 5% of the cost of regular therapy sessions. If you aren't thinking this already, then I will state it..... this form of support appeals to a certain demographic (18-35 year olds). Which to me makes sense, since millenials grew up in the technology/internet age and turn to technology for education, communication, and information. So Woebot in a way is a logical next step for some, and clearly maybe a tool to screen some individuals. I can appreciate that and do understand that with the change in times (and cost associated with care), alternatives need to embraced. 

Now with that said, from a personal standpoint, would I turn to a device that has NO HUMAN interaction/intervention capability for support with medical or mental health concerns? The resounding answer is NO. The problem or BEAUTY of human dynamics and behavior is that we can be unpredictable. Also how people perceive or deal with the same issue varies greatly and therefore there can NEVER be a standardized one size fits all response to an issue. That is where the art of therapy or intervention comes in! A computer maybe able to retrieve a profile on you, study your responses over time, and therefore spit out likely responses to you, but again, this is very black or white thinking and with humans there are many shades of grey. I can't possibly imagine Woebot would be able to help me during Mattie's battle with cancer, much less help me now dealing with life long grief. In fact, I would take this one step further, I find FEW mental health providers who are skilled enough to manage these issues, because childhood cancer is not an area one is well versed in unless personally going through it. I would also lump grief into this category as well. Not all grief is the same, regardless of how we are trained at the university level not to judge or compare losses. So if we are at a loss for quality clinicians in our communities (and as a Foundation leader, I hear this concern expressed by many parent of children with cancer) to handle these tough life and death issues, how on earth can Woebot help us? 

At the end of the day, it is the ties we develop with real human beings that produce empathy, understanding, and change. After all, if change in thinking was so easy to obtain on-line, then the mental health crisis would be abating. But it isn't the case. I would propose that quite the opposite is happening, computers make us turn inwards and as such, we are losing the art form of verbal communication and discussing issues and problems with friends and family. 

I encourage you to read the article for yourself:

July 31, 2017

Monday, July 31, 2017

Monday, July 31, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken on August 9, 2008. This was Mattie's first week of chemotherapy and being in-patient at the hospital. We did not know if we were coming or going that week. This scene that I took a photo of, was taken in the hallway of the PICU, right opposite Mattie's room. Pictured with Mattie was Linda (Mattie's child life specialist). As you can see Linda started working her magic early with Mattie. Which was why I used to call her "our medical Mary Poppins." Linda lined the floor with craft paper, and was protecting the walls of the unit with plastic isolation gowns. The goal was for Mattie to paint on the paper and create. Linda learned quickly that Mattie was into building and creating, so this project was perfect for him, and more importantly took his mind off cancer and being in the hospital. We met Linda in the beginning of the treatment process and she became an indispensable part of all of our lives. 

Quote of the day: A dog is able to smell the hormones you emit when you’re happy, nervous, or scared. A dog does not read your behavior and body language with his eyes, he literally “smells” if you’re happy, or sad. He can pick up on the tiny amounts of perspiration when you are having a stressful thought. Dogs can smell tiny parts of adrenaline that are emitted from your body, making you feel that your dog is psychic, however, these abilities are all scientifically based in a dog’s ability to smell our emotions. ~ from the InSitu Foundation

In April I received the magazine, Cure, in our Mattie Miracle mailbox. On the front cover was a photo of an adorable dog. So naturally it caught my attention. Given that it was around the Foundation's fundraising season, I put the magazine in my "read later" pile. Yesterday, I finally read the article that piqued my interest months ago.... The Nose Knows! I have included a link to the article below, if you want to read it for yourself. It was a fascinating and intriguing read!!!

The nose knows: Can dogs be trained to sniff out cancer?

The content for this blog came from the above link...................

The premise of the article is that for decades people have reported that their pet dog identified their cancer. Detected before medical science. It isn't like dogs have x-ray vision, but what they do have is an incredible sense of smell. So much so that they can smell 100,000 times better than humans. The article features the non-profit, InSitu Foundation, which has trained over 50 cancer smelling dogs to date, with almost a 90% success rate. In 2004, a research team in the United Kingdom conducted a study to see if dogs could detect bladder cancer from urine. After seven months of training, the dogs got it right 40 percent of the time. That may not sound like a high percentage, but it was high enough to inspire similar research. 

Studies have established that some dogs, after intensive training, can indeed detect many types of cancer such as breast, ovarian, lung, prostate, thyroid, colorectal, melanoma. Dogs can detect cancer from a variety of biological samples, including breath, urine, plasma and blood. 

Dogs have approximately 300 million odor receptors, compared with 6 million, at best, in humans. A dog’s anatomy allows it to sniff pretty much continuously, separating air into one stream for respiration and into another stream for smelling. Proportionally, the section of a dog’s brain devoted to analyzing smells is 40 times larger than that section in humans. 

Current methods of cancer detection, can be hit-or-miss. In many cases, symptoms don’t appear until the disease is in late stages. Many types of cancer, such as ovarian or prostate, are unable to be detected reliably at early stages. The article interviews Cindy Otto, director of the PennVet Working Dog Center at the University of Pennsylvania, who stated, "there is no early screening tool for ovarian cancer. We would love to be able to shift this, to see if there’s a way to use dogs’ amazing sense of smell to develop a screening tool that saves lives.”

People noticed long ago that illness had a particular smell. Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician, famously sniffed his patients. In the last several decades, medical research found that dogs could smell maladies such as hypertension and malaria.

The smells of disease come mostly from volatile organic compounds (VOCs). We excrete hundreds of VOCs in our sweat, breath, urine and other bodily fluids, creating a signature smell. If we’re sick, it stands to reason that our cells’ metabolism changes, and so does our odor signature.

Not all studies of cancer-sniffing dogs have been successful, and experts need to figure out if that’s due to the dogs’ cancer-smelling ability, or some other factor that affected the results. Training methods for the dogs need to be standardized. Opinions differ on what kinds of samples — breath, urine, plasma, blood, tissue — yield the most accurate results. Studies must be designed so that dogs won’t be tipped off by subtle signals from their handlers. Dogs’ sense of smell is so sensitive that results can be thrown off by changing the kind of preservative used to treat samples, or by the smell of the person collecting them, or by the place in which they were collected, or even by the color of the Sharpie used to mark the sample.

In Situ Foundation, a 501(c)3, has been dedicated to scientifically training dogs to detect early stage cancer in humans for over 12 years. They are the leading experts in the field of training cancer detection dogs, and were among the first to participate in published research, setting the bar for future studies on the subject.:

July 30, 2017

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2008. Mattie was in his second month of chemotherapy, prior to any of his surgeries. As you can see our home was beginning to be transformed into a hospital.... with all sorts of equipment. We had to get up to speed about giving Mattie IV fluids and medications and worse the daunting task of cleaning and flushing out his broviac. A catheter that directly attached to a central vein of the heart. In the beginning of Mattie's treatment, that catheter scared me to no end, given its location and the importance of keeping it clean. However, I am sharing this photo because it illustrates how loving Patches, our calico, was throughout all of this. At first Patches remained at home, but as Mattie's treatment got more intense we had no other choice but to board her with our vet for over a year. Patches had kidney issues and needed consistent care. We felt that our vet would be the most safest place to put her, so we did not have to worry about her or her health while we were solely focused on Mattie. 

Quote of the day: Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy. ~  Dale Carnegie

I think if someone asked me what the key to surviving loss and trauma were, my initial and most accurate response would be staying busy and having diversions. Now I am not implying that in between these diversions, one avoids focusing on thoughts and feelings. Absolutely not! One can try to avoid the reality, but eventually it will resurface. 

On weekends, which can be the hardest times in the week for us, we tend to try to stay busy doing things. Today's task was cleaning out our front hallway closet and our catch all closets in the kitchen. Two tasks I wasn't looking forward to doing. What you need to understand is that Mattie's things are pervasive in our home, even in the closets. So though I am an organized person, aspects of my closets can look as confused and chaotic as my head. 

Our front hallway closets had stacks and stacks of cookbooks. Now you could ask yourself how could purging cookbooks bring about sadness? I don't know but it did! For two reasons. The first is I found several children's cookbooks in my stacks. This one in particular was given to Mattie by one of my students, who was Mattie's babysitter. You can see that Emily wrote a message to Mattie in the book saying, "Hope we can do some cooking together! Happy 4th birthday." Unfortunately Mattie never used this cookbook. 

But the second reason this was so hard was because I looked at all my cookbooks, which I no longer use, and reflected on how I am NOT motivated anymore to experiment with new recipes. I neither have the desire or the energy. With the loss of Mattie, also came the loss of many aspects of myself. Tomorrow I am donating the majority of my cookbooks. 

After tackling the front hallway closet, we then moved into the kitchen. In my large kitchen closet, I store bags. All sorts of bags.... gift bags, recyclable bags, and even paper shopping bags. If you could see how many bags I pulled out of this closet, you would think I had a bag problem or obsession!

I significantly purged my bag supply today and totally reorganized the closet. Yet check out one of the bags I found! It says, "I love you Mattie, Love Kazu." This bag was given to Mattie during Halloween of 2008, by his close friend from elementary school. Needless to say, this bag went right back into the closet. I loved that bag then, and now 9 years later still love its meaning and sentiments. In fact, I snapped this photo and shared it with Kazu's parents, my friends Junko and Tad. I wanted them to know how much I have and continue to appreciate their support. 

What I have deduced about the loss of a child, is that even something mundane as cleaning out a closet, it never simple!  Mattie maybe gone, but physical aspects remain ever present in our home, which is also another reason I don't like cleaning out closets. I will never forget my first massive clean out of Mattie's things, which I did FIVE years after he died. YES FIVE YEARS! Prior to that point, I truly couldn't manage this horrific task. Yet regardless of how much I have cleaned out and donated, Mattie's things are always with us. The point to this is, I just never know when I will come across these items. Such as the cookbook and the orange bag. You can't prepare yourself for the unexpected or the feelings these items can evoke.