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

October 5, 2019

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken in October of 2005. Mattie was three years old and dressed up as a calico cat. Peter snapped this photo of us as we were walking from home to the George Washington University. That day, several of my students invited Mattie to a Halloween event they were hosting for children in the community. Mattie was excited to be invited and I should mention that Mattie and I hand made his costume that year!

Quote of the day: The moon is a loyal companion. It never leaves. It’s always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever just as we do. Every day it’s a different version of itself. Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light. The moon understands what it means to be human.Tahereh Mafi

We walked about 7 miles today. One of our stops was the National Gallery of Art. The first exhibit we saw was entitled, By the Light of the Silvery Moon: A Century of Lunar PhotographsThe year 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969. Photography played a significant role both in preparing for the mission and in shaping the cultural consciousness of the event. The exhibit had 50 works that included a selection of photographs from the unmanned Ranger, Surveyor, and Lunar Orbiter missions that led up to Apollo 11. 

This is a photograph of the moon in its first quarter. It was taken by Lewis Rutherfurd in 1865! 

Trained as a lawyer, Rutherfurd devoted his time and wealth to astronomy. He built his own small observatory, outfitted with a substantial refractor telescope, at his home in Manhattan. Beginning to photograph the moon in 1857, he developed several technological improvements. These included a lens for the telescope that was designed for rays of the light spectrum more sensitive to photographic chemicals than to human perception, which enabled him to produce extraordinary clear photographs of the moon. 

A select survey of lunar photographs from the 19th and early 20th centuries features works ranging from Warren de la Rue's late 1850s glass stereograph of the full moon to a suite of Charles Le Morvan's rich, velvety photogravures from Carte photographique et systematique de la lune, published in 1914, which attempted to systematically map the entire visible lunar surface. These photographs, from the 19th century to the "space-age" 1960s, merged art and science and transformed the way that we envision and comprehend the cosmos.

This lunar photograph was taken in 1899 by Maurice Loewy and Pierre Henri Puiseux. Lowey, director of the Paris Observatory, and lunar geologist Puiseux painstakingly photographed the moon on nights with clear weather conditions using a large telescope developed at the Observatory. With precisely positioned mirrors to reflect images from a rotating telescope to a fixed eyepiece, the instrument permitted viewers to remain stationary while observing celestial movement. They produced the first extensive photographic record of the visible areas of the moon. It identified craters and other geological features. 
This is a NASA photo. It was taken in 1969 and is titled, Earthrise across Mare Smythii. 

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin deploy the American flag on the moon (July 20, 1969).
Buzz Aldrin poses with the American Flag (taken by Neil Armstrong, July 20, 1969)

Buzz Aldrin, Moon Walk Reflection. Keep in mind that Neil Armstrong took this photo, and you can see his reflection.
Buzz Aldrin's footprint on the moon (July 20, 1969). 

Stars and Stripes on the Moon. 

Apollo 11 Astronauts in Houston (August 16, 1969).
The second exhibit we saw was entitled, The Touch of Color: Pastels at the National Gallery of Art. It traced the history of pastel from the Renaissance to the 21st century and examined the many techniques that artists have developed to work with this colorful medium. 

Known for its brilliant colors and its delicate, velvety texture, pastel is one of the most versatile and beautiful materials in the history of art. Artists have found innumerable ways to use it, from glowing portraits in the eighteenth century to the shimmering landscapes of the impressionists, to the abstract compositions of the twentieth century. Fabricated from a paste of pigment, white opaque filler, and binder, shaped into sticks and dried, pastel is an almost endlessly adaptable medium: it can be used wet or dry, by drawing directly with the intact stick, or by grinding it to a powder and applying it with a brush.

An Elegant Young Lady with a Lace Cap (Pietro Rotari, 1750)
 The Ballet Dancer (by Edgar Degas)
The Waterloo Bridge (Claude Monet, 1901). Monet used pastel sporadically throughout his career. This is one of a series of scenes he made to study the effects of weather and light from a London hotel room while he waited for his painting supplies, which had been held up in customs. Although the pastels were not made as direct preparatory sketches, Monet noted in a letter, "it's thanks to my promptly made pastels that I saw what I had to do," when his supplies arrived and he returned to painting. 

Madame Michel-Levy (Edouard Manet, 1882)
The Black Hat (Mary Cassatt, 1890)
At the Grand Prix de Paris (Childe Hassam, 1887)
Woman with an Exotic Plant (Henri Matisse, 1925). Pastels by Matisse are rare, as he experimented with the medium mainly during a few brief periods. Here he drew on paper coated with a layer of sawdust, depositing think lines of pastel to create rich colors and emphatic patterns. 

October 4, 2019

Friday, October 4, 2019

Friday, October 4, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken on October 19, 2004. Mattie was two years old and was attending his first preschool in Washington, DC. A preschool nightmare! The school set Mattie off, and he bit the director and a fellow student. Needless to say, it wasn't the right environment for Mattie, and therefore, he lasted there for maybe a month. Long enough to go on this preschool field trip to Butler's Orchard in Maryland. Because I knew the situation was volatile between the school and Mattie, I went as a chaperone on the field trip. This was the first photo I took of Mattie in this wonderful pumpkin patch. 

In 2007, Peter and I took Mattie back to this patch and I snapped this photo! One of my Mattie favorites. I would never haven't known about Butler's Orchard if it weren't for the awful preschool!

Quote of the day: If suffering brought wisdom, the dentist's office would be full of luminous ideas. Mason Cooley

I was supposed to go back to the dentist's office today for a consultation! I have to say I am SICK of the dentist and tooth pain. On April 17th of this year, I went to the dentist so he could remove one of my old silver fillings and replace it with a partial crown. He determined this had to be done, based on x-ray data! I had NO pain or issues with my tooth to warrant treatment, but I elected to do this based on his medical advice and my desire to maintain the health of my teeth. 

I haven't been the same since April. It all started on April 17th, when he removed the old filling and put in a temporary partial crown. Then two weeks later, I went in for the permanent crown. After drilling out the temporary crown and replacing it with the permanent crown, the TROUBLE began. I haven't felt good since April, as I have been dealing with all sorts of pain and an inability to eat on the left side of my mouth. I was hoping the problem would go away with time, so literally I tried to put it out of my mind. Until two weeks ago, when I told my dentist about the issues I am having. 

At that point on September 17th, I went back to the dentist. He took more x-rays, which all looked normal, and therefore he decided to remove the permanent crown with the hopes I was sensitive to the bonding agent. Right now I have a temporary crown in my mouth. However, the pain isn't better (constant aching and sensitivity to hot and cold fluids) and I refuse to get the permanent crown put in next week without this issue resolved.

Needless to say, the dentist called me today and told me not to come in. He feels he can't do anything for me and that I need to be evaluated by a specialist. Naturally!!! Why not add another specialist to my arsenal. So apparently I need an endodontist. I can assure you I never heard of such a professional. Therefore, I looked it up! 

What's an endodontist? They typically have two to three years of advanced training beyond dental school, have incredible precision and hand-eye coordination, making them highly skilled in performing complex treatments. They use the most specialized and advanced technology to treat tooth pain and perform root canal treatment. 

I am sure no dentist is going to confirm my suspicions, but I believe the drilling during the removal of the temporary crown to insert the permanent crown caused a trauma to my tooth. As I never had a nerve issue prior to his multiple procedures. I had all the best intentions of preserving the health of my teeth, but now I feel just the opposite occurred. 

Which leads me to the conclusion I have about moms who lost a child to cancer. Many of us seem to have multiple neurological issues. Issues we did not have prior to our child's death. To some extent I am not surprised that I have this current tooth problem. As I think there are many physical side effects from surviving Mattie's cancer battle that can't be detected by the naked eye. 

October 3, 2019

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken in October of 2005. Mattie was three years old! For some reason Mattie loved hand and foot painting. Here is where we differed immensely! In any case, this was not an unusual scene in our dining room. As Mattie loved to create and yet was very neat about the whole thing. He never ran around our home with paint all over himself. In fact, when he was done painting, he would lift his arms up so I could carry him into the kitchen to clean off in the sink. The wonders of Mattie. 

Quote of the day: Pain is such an uncomfortable feeling that even a tiny amount of it is enough to ruin every enjoyment.Will Rogers

This afternoon, my Icelandic friend, Eyglo, came to visit me. She literally took a 4.5 hour bus ride from NYC this morning to DC, and is now on the return bus trip back to NYC. It was a whirlwind trip, but we covered a lot of territory. 

She recently completed her PhD in psychology and she shared a copy of her dissertation with me. The focus of her research is examining the impact of a child's death from cancer on parents. I look forward to reading it because she created a new theoretic model that was intriguing to hear about. 

What did I learn from my friend today? Well many things, but the top two are: 1) Psychosocial issues associated with cancer are universal. It doesn't matter what country you are treated in, children and families are impacted. and 2) Bereaved moms tend to have many significant health challenges after the death of a child. Issues that follow us indefinitely. We talked about the biological mechanism that may explain why these issues arise.

What is clear, is we are both driven by a mission that was created for us by our sons. We can see that in each other, and we also candidly talked about how we feel when surrounded by people who are talking about their healthy children. Naturally we listen and absorb the information from our friends, and over time we have even learned to channel our anger over what we are hearing. This is needed otherwise, we are sure to say something totally insulting or hurtful to friends and family. However, we both admit that by not speaking our minds, we internally take on those hurt feelings, which I assure you lands up making us feel depressed and hopeless. 

However, the one phrase she used today which I absolutely loved, was "unicorn dust." When she describes how it feels to live without her son in her life, she says it feels like someone has taken away all the unicorn dust. In other words, when her son died, the fun, the intrigue, and the magic in her life faded away. Many of the topics we discussed today, would be devastating for the average person to hear. But to us, we shared our commonplace feelings, as these are feelings that unite all bereaved parents. Feelings we keep to ourselves, but unfortunately are ever present. 

October 2, 2019

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken on October 1, 2006. Mattie was four years old and doing what he loved to do... build! One thing about Mattie was he loved to be close to me. If I was in one room, he needed to be in that room. If I switched rooms, so did he! So that particular moment in time, I was working in the kitchen. Needless to say, Mattie's philosophy was.......have tinker toys, will travel! 

Quote of the day: To be prepared against surprise is to be trained. To be prepared for surprise is to be educated. James P. Carse

In October of 2017, I attended The International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP) conference in Washington, DC. I remember writing about one of the sessions I attended on the blog. Basically a researcher presented her study on the long term fate of parents of healthy children and parents of children who survived cancer. She was very clear that soon after treatment ends parents of children with cancer return to normal, or in some cases better than normal. Meaning in comparison to parents of healthy children, these parents reported lower mental health concerns. I couldn't understand her results which indicated that the trauma experienced by parents is not significant at predicting issues into the future. 

The point of me rehashing this story was because I wasn't the only one who questioned this researcher at this session. There was another parent advocate there and she was equally as troubled. After the session was over, this other advocate came over to talk with me. She is from Iceland and we have been Facebook friends ever since. Today, my fellow bereaved parent reached out to me to let me know she is in the USA and plans to come to DC tomorrow. She wanted to meet up with me. 

Given the incredible journey she has taken to get to DC, I couldn't pass up this opportunity. So tomorrow she will be visiting with me for most of the day. Which meant that I had to reshuffle my schedule and also straight up our home, as not everyone is used to cat and dog fur. I also baked some goodies for her, because to me when someone from another Country comes to visit, you want to make it memorable! 

October 1, 2019

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Tuesday, October 1, 2019 -- Mattie died 522 weeks ago today. 

Tonight's picture was taken on September 26, 2006. Mattie was four years old and trying to engage with Patches, our cat. When Mattie was a toddler, he would run after Patches to try to catch her tail. With coaching, he learned how to interact with a pet. In this photo, you can see that Mattie was trying to play with Patches on the staircase. The beauty of Mattie, and of course Patches did not mind. She was the best cat and truly understood that she had to treat Mattie with patience and kindness. 

Quote of the day: For most women, the language of conversation is primarily a language of rapport: a way of establishing connections and negotiating relationships. Deborah Tannen

Peter and I were referred to two different gastroenterologists. We went to Peter's referral yesterday and it was a nightmare. We walked out of the office before ever seeing the doctor. The whole vibe of the office was off and we figured this did not speak well for the medical care we would receive. One of the things I forgot to mention is the building where these doctors are located is the SAME building we would take Mattie to see his pediatrician. We haven't visited that building since 2008, when Mattie was diagnosed with cancer. Now 11 years later, we walked back into the building and it wasn't a good feeling. 

However, today's visit with the second referral, went much better. We both liked the doctor, the office is run efficiently, and I know that this doctor trained in great hospitals in NYC as well as performed thousands of colonoscopies. So our search is over! 

In the midst of all of this, I am still dealing with teeth issues. Two weeks ago today, I had a partial crown removed because I reacted negatively to the bonding agent for the crown. The dentist drilled hard to remove this permanent crown 14 days ago, he cleaned out the area, and then put in a temporary crown. Needless to say, I am still on Advil around the clock and dealing with nerve pain. I am hoping this goes away before I see him next week. All I know is I haven't had a pain free moment in weeks and that doesn't count the pain I had before I even got this second dental procedure done. On top of which, I developed a migraine today. So it is the perfect storm of pain. 

This afternoon, we walked Sunny to the new addition of the Kennedy Center. It is absolutely lovely! Especially when no one is there. These yellow metal signs illustrate the step by step dance moves for the twist. It is adorable. 
I love all the greenery and water elements. 
Not to mention rows and rows of milkweed and cone flowers to attract butterflies. 

September 30, 2019

Monday, September 30, 2019

Monday, September 30, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2006. That day we took Mattie on a walk at one of the local nature preserves. Something we typically did every weekend, regardless of the weather. I remember this was our first and last visit to this park because it was very rocky and was more like a hike than a walk. Nonetheless, Mattie was up for the adventure! 

Quote of the day: Be BOLD like a cicada-pipe the heck up. Maureen Joyce Connolly

Today was quite the day. Mid-day, I went with Peter to see a gastroenterologist at the hospital where Mattie was born. As both of us now need a colonoscopy. My internist suggested I see one specialist, and Peter's internist suggested another. So we figured we would visit both doctors to determine who we liked better. 

We arrived at the specialist's office and Peter signed in. What we immediately noticed was that everyone around us including the office staff was speaking Spanish. That was noteworthy since I have never experienced this before, and I see MANY MANY doctors in a year's time. While Peter was checking in, I noticed a sign on the wall that read..... NO credit cards or debit cards accepted. I literally read this sign and started to laugh and then said out loud.... would they liked to be paid in chocolate, alcohol, or clothing. The patient next to me burst out in laughter and then she (the only other English speaker in the waiting room) said to me they only want cash and who travels with that much cash?! Good point!

I should have taken a photo of the office, as the waiting room looked like the size of a coat closet. It was old, tired, and the walls behind the front desk where the staff were sitting were covered from floor to ceiling with cards. It looked totally unprofessional. Meanwhile, we waited in the office for 35 minutes, at which point Peter asked when the doctor was going to see him. The answer was, "I don't know, there are two other patients ahead of you!" NOT the answer we wanted to hear. Before this receptionist knew what hit her, both of us were on her case. 

This doctor is a one man practice, FIRST problem, and clearly his staff doesn't know how to balance his appointment calendar. So instead, patients landed up sitting a LONG time. It really provided us with no confidence at all, if this is how the front of his office is run. So needless to say, we got up and left, without seeing the doctor. However, I felt awful for all the other patients waiting to be seen in the cubby hole of an office. I wanted to stick around and advocate for them, but I knew it wasn't my place to do so! Therefore one doctor down and onto the next consult. However, I have already researched a doctor at MedStar Georgetown, because as I say to Peter all the time, if I have a medical problem, one has to go to Georgetown. Sure it is filled with its own dysfunction, but the competency of the physicians are worth the hassle. 

September 29, 2019

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2007. Mattie was five years old. I took him to visit a friend who just had a baby. This was Mattie's first experience holding a baby and you can tell he was smiling about it but also feeling uncertain about how to do this correctly. 

Quote of the day: I should know enough about loss to realize that you never really stop missing someone-you just learn to live around the huge gaping hole of their absence.Alyson Noel

We drove to Hains Point today in Washington, DC. It is a public park and golf course along the Potomac River. It isn't a place I visit often. But Peter is participating in a charity golf event this week, and while he was practicing on the greens, I walked Sunny. We literally walked the entire finger you see on this map. It is only about a 2.5 mile walk, but it was hot and humid today. Sunny loved the new adventure and really did not want to stop for breaks. He gets this way when he explores new territory. 

The sights Sunny and I passed along the way. This side is DC, but as I kept walking, I could see Arlington and Alexandria, VA. 
Part of the pathway we were on together. 
This brick structure across the water is the National War College. I did not know it existed, but the building caught my attention, so we looked it up. 

The National War College of the United States is a school in the National Defense University. It is housed in Roosevelt Hall on Fort Lesley J. McNair, the third-oldest Army post still active.
Boaters were out! But so were walkers, joggers, and cyclists. They were all around me. 
After we reached the point and kept on walking, we were now facing Virginia. Specifically this is Reagan National Airport. 
The buildings in Crystal City, VA. Do you see the silver memorial on the right? This is the Air Force Memorial. The three memorial spires range from 201 feet to 270 feet high and appear to be soaring; its array of stainless steel arcs against the sky evoke the image of contrails of the Air Force Thunderbirds as they peel back in a precision 'bomb burst' maneuver. Only three of the four contrails are depicted, at 120 degrees from each other, as the absent fourth suggests the missing man formation traditionally used at Air Force funeral fly-overs.

The Potomac River dotted with sailboats!