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

November 17, 2018

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2003. Mattie was a year and a half old and Peter captured us in the kitchen dancing together. Mattie loved music and he was the boy in constant movement. 

Quote of the day: I had friends saying, ‘Oh, I really wanted to call to see how you were doing, but I didn’t want to bother you.’ I thought, ‘Call me. Tell me a funny story. My day was horrible, but if you make me laugh, it gives me a little break.' Meritxell Mondejar Pont

I was talking today with a friend about her role as a caregiver. She provided care for a loved one who died from cancer. After the death, my friend continued serving in a caregiver role to those left behind in the family. Why am I mentioning this? I am mentioning it because it re-triggered my own feelings about the caregiver-caregivee relationship. 

I come from a long line of family caregivers. My maternal grandmother cared for many people and in turn my mom was my grandmother's primary caregiver. As a teenager and young adult, I observed my mom caring for my grandmother, who had a major stroke. The stroke left her partially paralyzed and with a host of cognitive and physical disabilities. When my grandmother died, my mom had to find her way back into the world. A world in which the majority of people aren't caring and meeting the needs of a very ill individual. That was a big adjustment, but with my grandmother's death the caregiver-caregivee relationship ended. The people left behind for my mom to care for were my dad and me. But that dynamic did not change because of my grandmother's illness.  

This is where my caregiving role for Mattie differed from my mom. When Mattie was battling cancer, we had a whole community of people helping us daily. Whether that was giving Mattie gifts, coordinating meals every day for 15 months, or it was visiting us and sitting through scans and scan results. Though I was Mattie's caregiver, Mattie's community in essence became my caregivers. They understood that I needed a lot of support, in order to effectively help Mattie. But what happened once Mattie died? Well this was the hard part to accept..... many of the members of our community pulled away. After all, the primary purpose for getting involved was gone. What wasn't as transparent to others (or maybe it was and it was just frightening) was the fact that surviving the loss of an only child was devastating and required great support. 

I am lucky that I had one particular friend who maintained this caregiving role with me for an entire year after Mattie died. But after that year, the nature of our relationship began to change. I couldn't understand it back then. In fact, I remember feeling abandoned by this friend. I got so used to someone looking out for my every need and caring about me, so when my friend was pulling away from doing this, I was confused. I am not sure what I needed to hear from her back then that would have eased my anxieties, fears, and sadness. I frankly think this is the challenges caregivers and caregivees face with each other. Or at least this is the conclusion I came to after chatting with my friend today.  

Now that Mattie has been gone nine years, I have had the opportunity to further reflect and understand that if my friend did not change the dynamic we had with each other back then.... of her being my caregiver, I am not sure our relationship would have ever grown beyond that. When someone is a caregiver, it is a very one sided relationship in a way. It has to be given the unequal nature of needs. A caregiver is typically healthier and is therefore selflessly giving of one's own time and energy to meet the physical and emotional needs of another person. Would I have wanted my friend to be my caregiver for the rest of my life? Well now I can safely say, NO. I couldn't have said that 8 years ago. 

I usually am not a big proponent of time, but in this case, time has enabled me to see that when my friend pulled away from her caregiving role, she was in essence forcing the change. Certainly the change could have gone either way..... we could have developed a friendship and or we could have migrated in different directions. But what I do know is a caregiver-caregivee relationship is not a friendship. A friendship is built on two people meeting each other's needs and growing together. Both relationships (caregiver vs friendship) require work for them to be effective, but I just wish I had this insight 8 years ago, when I felt my world was coming to an end when I lost my 'caregiver.' What tonight's blog shows me is my own emotional growth and with that my ability to share this insight with others who will be walking in my shoes. 

November 16, 2018

Friday, November 16, 2018

Friday, November 16, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2004. Mattie was two and a half years old and I snapped a photo of him doing one of his zillion puzzles. I learned very early on with Mattie.... he loved puzzles and was good at them. He quickly moved into more advanced puzzles and by the time he was diagnosed with cancer (age 6), he was doing 1000 piece puzzles. With help of course, but he was tenacious and liked the challenge!

Quote of the day: Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. ~ George Bernard Shaw

Monday - we drove to Baltimore. We drove 120 miles round trip. Candy was delivered to:

  • Children's Hospital at Sinai
  • Hackerman-Patz House
  • Ronald McDonald House

Tuesday - I delivered candy to:

  • Hospital for Sick Children (DC)
  • Ronald McDonald House (DC)
  • Children's Inn (MD)
  • Children's National Medical Center (DC)

Wednesday - I delivered candy to Special Love. We met in Reston, VA. Meanwhile, my friend delivered candy to:

  • MedStar Georgetown University Hospital
  • Nourish Now (MD)
  • United Community Ministries (VA)
Thursday - in the snow, I delivered candy to:
  • Pediatric Specialists of Virginia
  • Ronald McDonald House of Falls Church, VA

Friday - today was another winner of a day. We drove 100 miles all over town. We delivered to:

  • Embry Rucker Shelter (VA)
  • Cornerstones (VA)
  • Sasha Bruce (DC)
  • Covenant House (DC)
  • St. Ann's Center for Children, Youth, and Families (MD)

A total of 18 deliveries this week!

When we got to the garage this morning, this was the amount of candy we had to load into the Uhaul. It was a ton! Actually when I look at this, it doesn't even seem possible that I have been delivering candy all week. How could all of this still be staring at us in the face?? 

The answer is...... because we collected 15,000 pounds of candy. Candy weighs a ton and I was upset that our helpers who were supposed to meet us this morning did not show up. So instead, Peter and I loaded all of this onto the truck ourselves. 
In twenty minutes we got it all in. Thankfully Peter understand spacial relationships and knows how to pack the truck. What I would say though is that every community based agency we interfaced with today was very happy to see us, they were appreciative that we are supporting them (as they know this is beyond the scope of our organization) and they shared with us how the candy will be used. In some cases the candy is used as behavior management incentives, it helps citizens who are homeless (as we were told sugar helps to provide energy to keep the body warm), and overall the candy will brighten the days of many children and families in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia are who are living in shelters and trying to get re-established and back to living within the community. 

November 15, 2018

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2006. I believe it was around Peter's birthday and I snapped this cute fall photo of the boys sitting on the couch. Trying to contain Mattie for a photo was NO easy task. Certainly as he got older, he understood why I wanted him to stand still and would pause for a photo. But Mattie was about movement and being busy. Which meant my need to document through photography wasn't always appreciated. Yet now, given our life circumstances, I am so glad I had my camera always in tow.  

Quote of the day: It’s better to be a lion for a day than a sheep all your life. ~ Elizabeth Kenny

This was how the day started in Washington, DC. It was literally snowing and sticking! I heard that  schools started on a two hour delay, and then while buses were on the move, schools were then canceled for the day. Meaning all the kids already on the bus had to be taken right back home. The beauty of Washington, DC. Two flakes and there is panic. 

The weather did not stop candy deliveries. I went to Pediatric Specialists of Virginia today (which is an outpatient pediatric hematology/oncology clinic for Fairfax INOVA and National Children's Medical Center). After that, I dropped off candy at the Ronald McDonald House in Falls Church, VA. I had only two stops to do, but in this weather, it was more than enough. Tomorrow we rent a Uhaul and hopefully it will be our last four deliveries. 

This is our 8th candy drive that the Foundation has hosted. I am not sure why I never created a video about our Candy Drives in the past. But I rectified that this year. I worked on a video for a week now. Fortunately I try to keep track of the photos I take as well as the ones that people send me. I hope you enjoy this candy video. I think it fun to watch and it highlights some impressive facts....

  1. We collected 15,000 pounds of candy,
  2. We have 35 schools and 40 businesses who are candy donors, and
  3. We donate to 11 hospitals/childhood cancer organizations and 7 community based non-profits.

Candy Drive Video:

November 14, 2018

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2007. That day I took Mattie to visit Peter at his office. Mattie fell in love with Peter's dry erase board. As you can see Mattie decided to draw his favorite subject matter....something with wheels. But the tell tale sign of a Mattie picture, was always the incorporation of the sun. 

Quote of the day: Gratitude is the single most important ingredient to living a successful and fulfilled life. ~ Jack Canfield

In honor of Peter's birthday, we went out to dinner last night. We rarely go out midweek, but Peter's birthday only comes around once a year. So it was worth stopping the daily grind, to pause and acknowledge the special day. 

It was our first time dining at Fiola. It was a special treat, and they greeted us with a hand written note.... on our table!
We ordered a three course meal, but at Fiola you get a lot of other perks. Such as two amuse bouches! This was a photo of the first one, followed by a tasty cauliflower soup. 
I am not sure what is more noteworthy.... the food, the service, or the beautiful fine china everything was served on. All the plates were made by Limoges. They were stunning!
The waiter snapped a photo of us last night!
Cinderella went back to the candy routine today. I basically consolidated bags of candy that were spread out all over the garage to one place. This is the remaining candy that we have to deliver on Friday!!! 
Take a look at my trunk! The car actually smells sickening! I dropped off candy in Reston today to an organization called Special Love. Then drove back to Arlington to restock my car. Then drove back to Washington, DC to deliver another load to the Ronald McDonald House. I am hoping that I can make my deliveries tomorrow and that the snow holds off. I really want all of this OUT of my car. 

November 13, 2018

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Tuesday, November 13, 2018 -- Mattie died 478 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken 10 years ago today, on Peter's birthday. Mattie was in the hospital recovering from limb salvaging surgeries, but wanted to celebrate his dad's birthday. He worked with his art therapists and designed a birthday cake made out of model magic for Peter. To this day, this cake sits on our bedroom bureau. I would have to say this gift was better than cake or anything else for that matter. It is a piece of Mattie's artistic legacy. 

Quote of the day: Candy is childhood, the best and bright moments you wish could have lasted forever.Dylan Laure

It has been quite a week already and it is only Tuesday. So far in two days, candy has been delivered to:

  1. Children's Hospital at Sinai (Baltimore)
  2. Hackerman-Patz House (Baltimore)
  3. Ronald McDonald House (Baltimore)
  4. MedStar Georgetown University Hospital (Washington, DC)
  5. National Children's Medical Center (Washington, DC)
  6. HSC Pediatric Cancer Center (Washington, DC)
  7. Ronald McDonald House (Washington, DC)
  8. Children's Inn at NIH (Bethesda, MD)
  9. Nourish Now (Rockville, MD)
  10. United Community Ministries (Alexandria, VA)

While I was handling the DC deliveries and the one at NIH, our friends Ann and Catherine took lots of candy to Nourish Now and United Community Ministries (UCM). UCM is a community-based, non-profit organization that provides comprehensive social services for Mount Vernon's vulnerable children, youth, and families in southeastern Fairfax County, Virginia. 

Nourish Now is a 501c3 nonprofit food bank, specialized in food recovery and providing donations from grocers, caterers, restaurants, bakeries, and other food donors for the benefit of children, families, and the elderly, as well as shelters, food pantries, and other organizations working to end hunger.

Nourish Now makes donations super easy, as they have volunteers on site to help unload and move food items for you. Our friend Catherine is pictured with two volunteers. 
 Nourish Now volunteers hard at work.
Because of the volume of candy collected, we have had to find alternative non-profits to support, with the excess candy. I assure you it isn't easy to find a non-profit to donate candy to, since many food banks refuse it. We are grateful to Nourish Now and UCM, who understand how happy candy makes children and families. Especially with the holidays approaching. 

Our friend Ann with UCM volunteers. We donated two shopping carts worth of candy. These organizations are very appreciative and I am thrilled this candy goes to good use. 

November 12, 2018

Monday, November 12, 2018

Monday, November 12, 2018

As this is the eve of Peter's birthday, I thought this was an appropriate photo for today. It was taken in November of 2007, on Peter's birthday. Mattie enjoyed celebrating birthdays and he always insisted we bake a cake. In Peter's case, we knew his favorite combination was a lemon cake with vanilla frosting. I am happy I snapped this photo of Mattie giving Peter his cake. In fact, I never passed up an opportunity to capture our moments together.  

Quote of the day: All I really need is love, but a little candy now and then doesn't hurt! ~ Charles Schulz

The delivery of candy began today! I am telling you the amount collected this year is overwhelming. We estimate it at 15,000 pounds. It fills up an entire garage. 

Our friend, Ann, helped us with deliveries today. She dropped off bins and bags of snacks to the child life staff at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital (Washington, DC). 
Meanwhile, Peter and I rented a Uhaul van to drive to Baltimore. We had around 25 big bins loaded and we stopped at:

  1. Hackerman Patz House (which is like a home away from home, where families can stay on campus, when a child is being treated at Sinai Hospital)
  2. Children's Hospital at Sinai

Our third stop was to the Ronald McDonald House. Which is similar to the Hackerman Patz house, but not located on a hospital campus. We dropped off lots of candy, but fortunately the photo doesn't show the full amount. 

Round trip we were in the car today from 8am to 3:30pm. Then I got home and walked Sunny. But it did not end there. I got it in my head that I have to create a candy video, just like a Walk video, but this one would highlight our candy drives. Needless to say, I am still working on it, as designing a video doesn't just happen. I admit to being very tired now, and yet I have deliveries to make every day this week. 

My poor car is loaded up with candy for delivery. I have no doubt when I open the door tomorrow morning, the smell will hit me. It isn't as pleasant as you would think!!!

November 11, 2018

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2007. Mattie was 5 years old. This photo was taken on Roosevelt Island, a wonderful National Park in the heart of Washington, DC. Mattie loved to climb on rocks along the pathway, not to mention that he loved collecting leaves, rocks, and big branches. Literally we had quite a collection of Mattie findings outside our deck door. 

Peter and I walked the Island today with Sunny. Whenever we walk passed these rocks, I always think of Mattie. 

Quote of the day: If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things. ~ Albert Einstein

Peter and I attempted to have a slower day today. It has been an absolute whirlwind for weeks now. It was wonderful to sleep and not to get up early today. 

Sunny is not happy with me, as I have spent a good deal of time at our Candy Drive this week and not with him. He is my velcro dog and I truly believe he gets depressed in my absence. To make it up to him we took him to Roosevelt Island today which he loves. 

It feels like winter outside! So we knew we had to move many of our plants inside. It is a chore but it does bring greenery into our home. Which in a way brightens the outside gloom.  

Why bring these plants in? Well three of them in particular mean a lot to me. Two were given to me by friends when Mattie died. So literally I have nurtured these two plants for 9 years. The other one I love is our butterfly ginger lily. Peter and I purchased this plant during a vacation in North Carolina years ago. When the lily blooms, its white flowers are in the shape of a butterfly and the fragrance is intoxicating. I don't want to lose any of these special plants.