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 10, 2019

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken on July 31, 2008. You maybe asking.... what is this??? On July 31st, we had to tell Mattie what was wrong with him and how we were going to treat the cancer. Mattie loved bugs. So his art therapists gave him some clay. With the clay he formed a bug. We had Mattie visualize his cancer as bugs in his bones. So the way to kill these bone bugs, wasn't with bug spray but with chemotherapy. In essence the chemo would squash the bone bugs in his body. With that, we asked Mattie what his clay bone bug would look like after treatment. So he stomped on it with his foot, and this was what this photo captured. A smashed bone bug! It was important to explain bone cancer to Mattie in a way he could understand. Given his treatment was going to be so significant and radical, he had to buy into the process. 

Quote of the day: The word “Kebec” is an Algonquin word meaning where the river narrows. Quebec City’s location is at the intersection of the St. Lawrence and the St. Charles River. ~

Visiting Canada isn't like a typical Caribbean cruise. First of which it is cool, in the 60s with on and off again rain. Or torrential rain to be specific. 

I would have to say one of my favorite things on a Princess Cruise is their breads. All bread products from rolls to croissants. I would love to meet the bakers, because to me this is the best food on the ship. Despite the cool temperatures I ate breakfast on the balcony. 

Peter is not with me on this cruise. He is missed and as I particularly love watching him get jazzy about nautical directions, land masses we are passing, the stars, the swells and waves, you name it. Things that wouldn't necessarily catch my attention, but once he points them out, I see them too. So I am doing some Peter-isms on this trip in his honor. 

We toured Quebec today by foot. We had a three hour walking tour with an incredible guide, Danielle. She had incredible energy, loved to share history and stories about her city, and did a great job keeping track of all of her guests. 

As we walked passed the museum, you know I had to take a photo of this butterfly!
Quebec has an interesting history. Great conflict between the British and French for ownership of this territory. So literally part of the city has French architecture and the other English. Danielle, explained that the french influence uses pitched roofs and stone. 
While the English side tends to use smoother granite and flatter roofs. Honestly both sides are beautiful. Understand though that I stood in the middle of the street. On the right hand side of the street I captured the photo above and on the left hand side I snapped this photo!
Quebec utilizes all its flat spaces with murals. This one is incredible and the artist came from France to create this historical masterpiece, which depicts many of Quebec's great leaders like Samuel Champlain (the founder of the city!). 
They say that walking in Quebec is a lot like visiting Europe without crossing the ocean. I would say Quebec is charming, has preserved its old world charm, and celebrates its illustrious culture. 
This is truly whimsical. In the middle of the town square is a statue of King Louis XIV. He was placed in a snow globe. Literally there are fans inside the snow globe, providing movement to the fake snow. Here's the funny part about this.... the King never visited Quebec and never saw snow. However, since this once was a French territory, and he reigned over the city from a far, they have done what I consider an ironic tribute to their former king. 

Meanwhile today, Quebec has independent governance, yet still is a part of the British commonwealth and therefore symbols of Queen Elizabeth are found throughout the city. 

I never saw the movie, Catch Me if You Can, but apparently Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed in this square, coming out of this cafe! Though the movie was set in France, it was filmed in Quebec!

Quebec is divided into tiers. The photos above were taken in the lower tier. The tier heavily French influenced. To get to the upper tier, you can walk or take the Funicular. It takes about a minute. 

The Funicular puts you right outside the famous Hotel Frontenac. Built in the 19th century as an ideal stop over for the Canadian Pacific travelers. It is recognized as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1980. It has about 600 rooms!
See this symbol, it reads Je Me Souviens. Meaning "I remember." This symbolizes Quebec's history, a combination of the English and French. 

The crown at the top is for England, the lilies for France, the Lion for England, the Maple Leaves for Quebec! 
This red roofed home is the oldest house in Quebec. In fact, near this house, was the residence of Queen Victoria's father. Queen Victoria is responsible for one of the three roadways into Quebec. By the way, I should have mentioned that the upper tier of Quebec is a walled city. The wall is still preserved today!

Holy Trinity Cathedral, an Anglican Church. Danielle wanted us to see the interior differences between an Anglican and Catholic church. She said that the it is a city of churches, reflecting both its Anglican and Catholic histories. 
Interior of the church. To the left, in the balcony, was a special section designated for the Queen or her representatives when they are in Quebec. 
This monumental clock, the only one of its kind built by Richard Mille, is a gift from Switzerland and the Canton of Jura for Québec City’s 400th anniversary. Internationally recognized for its state-of-the-art watches, the company has created a work in keeping with the highest standards of fine clock making. This gift therefore symbolizes the bond of friendship between the Republic and Canton of Jura and Québec City.

It took more than 6 years of work and expertise from some hundred specialists in 28 trades to design and manufacture the clock. Its parts are crafted from premium materials such as titanium, ruby, sapphire, and aluminum.
The Aldred Building is an Art deco building on the historic Place d'Armes square in the Old Montreal quarter.

Completed in 1931, the building was designed by Ernest Isbell Barott, of the firm Barott and Blackader, with a height of 316 ft or 23 stories. Built at a cost of $2,851,076.00, Barott endeavored to design a modern building which would, at the same time, fit with the square's historic surroundings. The building's setbacks at the 8th, 13th, and 16th floors allow more light on the square and create a cathedral-like massing, reflecting the adjacent Notre-Dame Basilica.
Getting a feeling for the weather? We walked in down pours today, and it was cool! However, I would say that Quebec is a very large tourist stop. In fact, to me there were more tourists around us than residents. 

Then we saw the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral. 
The interior of Notre Dame!
I have been a catholic all my life and never heard of the "holy door." Or its significance. Here's some historical context.......Pope Boniface VIII began the tradition of the Holy Year, known as a Jubilee, in 1300 and the Catholic Church has celebrated them every 25 years or so ever since. A major part of the Holy Year for Catholics is a pilgrimage to Rome and the ritual passing over the threshold of the holy door to symbolize the passing into the presence of God. At the same time, remission of the temporal punishment for sins is granted.

So literally this door you see here is opened every 25 years. Danielle said we would have to come back in 2025, to experience this open door! However, I had no idea that Catholics even made a pilgrimage once in their lives to traverse through a holy door. 

In its hay day, the priests of Notre Dame created and established this huge seminary. Many men were educated to become priests here. Now the seminary is much smaller and the remaining portion of this campus is instead used by the local college, specifically to train architects. 
You saw that we got to the second tier of the city by Funicular. Well the way down is accomplished by walking down steps!
On the way back to the ship, I snapped this photo. I think it helps to give you perspective of the city. It has the lower tier (where we were standing) and the upper tier (where the Frontenac Hotel is located, it looks like a castle on the mountain). 
Get a feeling for the walls around the city? At one time Quebec was going to tear down these walls. Luckily someone advised them not to do this, but to instead preserve them and their history! 
My mom with the Caribbean Princess as the backdrop!

At 4:30pm, we all went through the mandatory emergency safety assembly and at 5pm, we set sail. 

With rain and lightning!
 Good-bye Quebec. 
Something about this sail away reminded me of NYC! Maybe it is that big building that reminds me of the Empire State Building in the distance. 

August 9, 2019

Friday, August 9, 2019

Friday, August 9, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2008. It was during Mattie's first hospital admission for chemotherapy. During our first hospital stay we did not know if we were coming or going. Mattie wore a hospital gown, which he hated. As we got more familiar with our space, we learned what we needed to bring with us while in the hospital, and Mattie chose to wear flannel type pjs always! Pictured here were Mattie's art therapists (Jessie and Jenny). They were incredible women who got it right away.... Mattie loved to be busy and create. 

Quote of the day: Quebec City is the most European of any city in North America; they speak French all the time. There is a part of town called Old Quebec which is really like being in France. The architecture is just gorgeous, food, shopping. I'd say Quebec City is the most beautiful city in North America I've seen. ~ Sebastian Bach

I got up at 5am today, in order to get myself dressed and on the road at 6:30am. We wanted to be on the cruise ship early, and to accomplish this we had to get moving given that it takes three hours to drive from Montreal to Quebec.

This was the beautiful view of Montreal from my hotel room. The green roofed cathedral is the one we visited yesterday, Marie-Reine-du-Monde Cathedral. 

We had a wonderful fellow, Nacar, who drove us for three hours. He was absolutely delightful and gave us a great tour of Montreal, provided us with some history on Canada, and his home country of Morocco. When I tell you we were talking up a storm for three hours with him, I am not kidding, and I am not even a morning person. 

Nacar pointed out this famous street in Montreal to us, St. Catherine's Street. There was literally a beaded canopy that traversed the entire street!

Montreal's Gay Village extends along Sainte-Catherine Street in the east end of downtown, between Saint-Hubert and Papineau. The Village sports a permanent rainbow decoration on its façade. For most of the summer, from mid-May till mid-September, Sainte-Catherine Street is completely closed to vehicular traffic through the Gay Village, making it one large pedestrian area, allowing all the stores to sell outside and all the restaurants and bars to serve on large, open-air terraces.

So what did our drive look like? Just like this!!! This is a very green country! We learned from Nacar, that Canada is the second largest land mass country, after Russia. 

Certainly Canada has large cities, but between the cities, are farms and it is a very agrarian culture. 
After three hours of greenery, all of a sudden in the distance Quebec appeared. 
We crossed over the Ambassador Bridge which parallels the Quebec Bridge. The Quebec Bridge (Pont de Québec in French) is a road, rail and pedestrian bridge across the lower Saint Lawrence River. The project failed twice, at the cost of 88 lives, and took over 30 years to complete. The Quebec Bridge is a riveted steel truss structure and is 3,238 ft long, 95 ft wide, and 341 ft high. Cantilever arms 581 ft long support a 640 ft central structure, for a total span of 1,801 ft, still the longest cantilever bridge span in the world.

Ambassador Bridge (see it stands right next to the older bridge) was completed in 1929. It is the easternmost complete crossing of the Saint Lawrence.

The beauty of the port of Quebec, where our ship is docked. Thank goodness for Nacar, because he truly helped us! We arrived at the dock while the ship was still disembarking the previous cruise. Therefore, they would not take our luggage or even let us into the terminal to sit. Not such a problem for me, but a big issue for my dad. There literally was no bench or even a chair for people with disabilities to sit. Needless to say, I am not shy or quiet. I got a hold of a supervisor who brought a chair out of the terminal for my dad to sit on until I figured out what to do with the luggage and our next steps. Typically we get a wheelchair to bring my dad onto the ship, but we couldn't  even figure out how to secure this, and even worse every Princess representative we asked was equally confused. Each person gave me a different story. There was NO coordination of staff and it seemed like there was a lack of training and familiarity with the process. Why?

Well we learned that this was the FIRST cruise Princess has ever done out of Quebec! So now it makes sense why there was chaos, no signage, disorganization, and confusion. I finally snapped at a representative after waiting over an hour and basically told her I did not know how on earth they can get away with having a check in terminal that has no benches or chairs for people with disabilities. I went as far to say that in the USA this would be illegal. Apparently that struck a chord, and we got to the front of the line and inside. 

Once on board, we settled my dad in the atrium of the ship and then literally ran up to the 15th floor to secure seats in the Sanctuary. The Sanctuary is a more secluded part of the ship, dedicated to adults. It has special service, deck chairs, perks like afternoon tea, without the chaos of loud music and the hustle and bustle of people. However, the ship has 3,500 people on it, and there are about 30 chairs in the sanctuary. You can't pre-book this space. It is a first come first serve sign up basis. Therefore over the years we learned the only way to get these seats is to get on the ship early and process directly to the sanctuary to sign up. Without the Sanctuary, you basically can't get a deck chair as there aren't enough in the regular common areas for the majority of passengers. Fortunately we were successful today.

Next thing to learn about was the new access system on board the ship. It involves using this medallion that hangs off of a lanyard, that goes around your neck. In all the cruises we have been on, this is the first time we were not given a cruise card, but instead this medallion. The medallion serves as your room key, your on board credit card, and it has a gps chip inside so that family members and ship staff can track you down anywhere on the ship.

Though we are living in the technology age, I truly liked less technology on board the ship in the past. But now this is all changing.  I see kiosks on every floor. Screens for people to interact with and even play games while waiting by the elevators or restaurants! Honestly? Do we really need this constant level of stimulation in our lives??? To me this isn't progress! We just can't disengage with the world even on the high seas. It is a real social commentary to me, and not a good one. Especially for young and developing minds. 

August 8, 2019

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2008, during the first week of Mattie's chemo treatment to be specific. Back then, the Hospital did not have a child life playroom. So the only place to gather and play was in the middle of the hallway. It was definitely not a great space. That day, we worked with child life interns to make this model magic mask. A mask I still have today. Months later the playroom was constructed and opened. It was a God sent to all of us.  

Quote of the day: Our “underground city” has over 18 miles of pedestrian walkways, indoor areas and tunnels linking 10 metro stations, 2 train stations, 2 bus stations, 62 buildings, 7 major hotels, 1,615 apartments, 200 restaurants, 1,700 boutiques, 37 movie theaters and exhibition halls, 2 universities, 1 college and 10,000 indoor parking 

I learned one thing today and that is I am never going on Air Canada again. I found their representatives unprofessional, uncaring, and the quality of their planes are decrepit. 

I was supposed to fly from Washington Reagan Airport to Montreal at 11:20am. I got to the airport at 8:30am and experienced one flight delay after the next. Finally boarded the flight at 2:20pm. Mind you there was no explanation for this delay and the airline personnel did not provide us with updates. Thankfully I had text message alerts which helped. 

I chose this flight because it was the only direct flight I could get! Fortunately the flight was about 90 minutes and smooth. 
Negotiating the airport wasn't easy either. Signs were in English and French. After clearing customs (Which was an experience as Canadians and non-Canadians processed through the same lines -- first step was automated. Literally went up to something that looked like a large ipad and scanned in my passport and answered questions on-line), I was faced with what you see in this photo. NOT an escalator but a conveyor belt for people, at a 45 degree angle. How people haven't injured themselves going down this thing is beyond me. 
 I arrived at the hotel at 5pm and met my parents. We are spending the night here and drive bright and early (6:30am) tomorrow to Quebec. Which is about 3 hours away to board a Princess Cruise ship. 
My mom and I walked around for an hour before dinner. Many beautiful sights and was impressed with the amount of green spaces and gardens all around us. 
We visited Marie-Reine-du-Monde Cathedral. It is stunning and reminds me of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

The Cathedral is a minor basilica in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and the seat of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Montreal. The building is 333 ft in length, 150 ft in width, and a maximum height of 252 ft at the cupola, the diameter of which is 75 ft.
The first architect, Victor Bourgeau, refused the project after studying St. Peter's, claiming that it could not be reproduced on a smaller scale. I understand his hesitation, but the Cathedral is a true work of art and in a way pays homage to its Italian counterpart. 
My maternal grandmother loved visiting churches and lighting candles in memory of loved ones. So today, my mom and I lit a candle for my grandmother and for Mattie. Finding real candles in a church now is a rarity. At least in the USA. It was wonderful to see these candles and be able to celebrate the lives of our loved ones. 
The beauty of the alter. 

The alter at St. Peter's in Rome. See the resemblance?
We walked through Dorchester Square Park. The park itself is beautiful and inviting. Except the fact that large groups of people were all over the park and smoking marijuana. To me that spoiled the experience and made it impossible to sit and enjoy the surroundings. 

I loved this fountain. It looks like it was cut in half, to make it look like a tree. If you look closely, you will see the small woodpecker statue attached to the right side of the fountain (midway up).
There are very large skyscrapers all around and what is noteworthy are the cute garden spaces that surround many of the buildings. It seems like the perfect place to come to during warm weather months during lunch breaks. 
Gardens and green spaces tucked into every street and around buildings. 

The beauty of Montreal at night. The view from my hotel room! Signing off, as I am getting up at 5am.