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

January 18, 2020

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken in January of 2003. Mattie was 9 months old and sitting in his high chair. Mattie was not in love with his high chair and it took many months to get him used to sitting in it. At three and four months old, he preferred eating in his car seat! There was something confining about the high chair and it clearly bothered Mattie. Unlike me, Mattie wasn't really motivated by food. He did not seek food out and meal times with Mattie were more like calisthenics for us, than about consuming food. I would say by the time Mattie was five years old, he got the hang of sitting at a table and eating as a family. 

Quote of the day: Your memory is the glue that binds your life together; everything you are today is because of your amazing memory. You are a data collecting being, and your memory is where your life is lived. ~ Kevin Horsley

Typically I am not a social media fan, but sometimes it does come in handy. I have reconnected with my college friend, Audrey, through linked in. She mentioned in a posting that she has a Halloween photo from college that sits on her desk. I was intrigued by her posting, so I wrote to her and I asked her who was in the photo. Audrey sent me this photo through email! Audrey is in stripes and in the back row were my college roommates, Huma and Leslie. 

If Horsley's quote is accurate and memories are the glue that binds my life together, then I have a big problem. As I remember dressing up for Halloween in college, but I have NO recollection ever taking this photo and I couldn't even tell you where this photo was taken. As I recognized nothing about the scenery! So I wrote to my friend Leslie, who was my freshman college roommate, and we remain connected. Leslie fortunately remembered that the photo was taken at the apartment she lived in during our senior year. I had to dig deep, because I did not even recall Leslie living off campus. So much for my memory! 

Perhaps this happens to all of us...... that we forget certain moments in time. Yet I am also aware of having two halves to my life. My life before Mattie was diagnosed with cancer and my life after Mattie died. I do not know whether trauma research has delved into how trauma affects our pre-trauma memories..... meaning how did Mattie's cancer treatment and death impact how I remember my life prior to this trauma? Typically when talking about trauma what is discussed is how one may re-experience the original trauma through flashbacks or nightmares and avoid stimuli associated with the trauma, as well as have increased arousal (such as difficulty falling or staying asleep and anger). I absolutely know without a doubt that the trauma of Mattie's treatment and death has left me with increased arousal. I skew much more anxious now, I can feel agitated and jumpy easily and ten years later, all of this still impacts my sleep. 

However, with that said I would say that trauma impacts one's ability to concentrate, the ability to filter out certain noises around us, and the ability to remember. Prior to Mattie being diagnosed, I could read and concentrate anywhere! It did not matter if people around me were talking or music was blaring. Now forget it! I can't process anything I read unless I am in a quiet setting without other distractions around me. I am very attuned to how I have changed because of Mattie's cancer, and seeing this college photo this week reminded me..... that yes there is a cognitive component to trauma. 

January 17, 2020

Friday, January 17, 2020

Friday, January 17, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken in January of 2003. Mattie was nine months old and I was able to capture the joy and laughter of Mattie. He was on the floor and playing with toys I had all around him. Mattie typically did not like being on the floor, so this particular moment was short lived. But I am so happy I captured it!

Quote of the day: When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness. ~ Joseph Campbell

I think tonight's quote is poignant. I am not sure exactly what context Joseph Campbell was speaking about, however, when I read it, I think about parenting in general. As raising or caring for another human being, requires you to think beyond yourself and your own needs. In fact, while caring for Mattie throughout his cancer treatment, I would say my consciousness about life, the world around me, and my overall priorities were transformed. I would say the experience transformed me so much that I have been unable to return to the person I used to be. Instead, I have evolved into who I am today, and though Mattie is no longer alive, I would say my lens and focus remains on his needs. Of course his needs are no longer tangible. Instead, I nurture his memory and legacy through his Foundation.  

If Mattie were alive today, he'd be a senior in high school. I am very aware of the fact that his friends and classmates are applying to college and families are managing the stress of that process and trying to determine next steps for their children. I can't relate to that stress, but I certainly can empathize. I honestly can't believe that Mattie's cohort went through preschool, elementary, middle, and high school. They are evolving and somehow I am stuck in 2009, with Mattie having completed only kindergarten. Look at all the years we missed with him! I have no idea what Mattie would have been like today, or even what subject matters would have caught his attention. 

Yet Mattie was once part of the class of 2020. His class will be graduating in June, and in my opinion one important student will be missing from the event. But what does a school do for such a missing student? Does the school give the family a high school diploma for a child who has died? Some schools do this, as I know this directly from a fellow bereaved mom who is my friend. Yet there are no easy answers for the school community or the parents! Other than I am quite aware of the fact that graduation conversation is all around me. I am also well grounded to know that this conversation bothers me, angers me, and saddens me all at the same time.  

January 16, 2020

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken on January 19, 2003. I can remember this photo as if it were taken yesterday. We brought Mattie outside to our commons area. As he loved zooming around in his "tot wheels!" That day Peter had a camera in hand and was snapping photos. What I love about this photo was Peter captured Mattie looking up at me and smiling! We have a Facebook friend who occasionally posts photos of Mattie and displays them in creative ways. Well Tim blew up this photo for me and when he showed me the result, it was very clear that my reflection was in Mattie's eyes. 

Quote of the day: Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change. ~ Wayne Dyer

Back on June 21, 2009, I posted this photo and statement on the blog.........

This afternoon, Dr. Chahine stopped by to visit Mattie. Yes on a SUNDAY and on Father's day! I forgot to wish Dr. Chahine a happy father's day (mostly because Mattie was in one of his moods and I was focused upon him), but hopefully if he is reading this, he knows that our intentions were for him to have a great day. In addition to being a great surgeon he is a dedicated dad. Dr. Chahine brought Mattie a Star Wars robot today. He said that his girls picked it out for Mattie. I can't think of a more thoughtful gesture! You can see the robot in the picture, it has a red head!

You maybe asking yourself, who is Dr. Chahine. Well he was Mattie's surgeon who removed 9 lung tumors, by way of a sternotomy. Because Dr. Chahine is a surgeon, we did not know him prior to the surgery as up until June of 2009, he was not a part of Mattie's treatment team. So naturally we had great concerns about adding another doctor to Mattie's line up. Given Mattie's aggressive cancer, there were no other options really other than performing the surgery to remove his lung tumors. 

However, right from the beginning Dr. Chahine caught our attention. He isn't your typical surgeon. He listens and he tries to address all of a family's concerns. When we demanded a pre-surgical meeting, so that everyone on Mattie's treatment team could discuss the surgery and coordinate thoughts and post surgery care ideas, Dr. Chahine said SURE. Mind you our request wasn't typical and not all surgeons would be eager to set up such a planning meeting. But Dr. Chahine understood where we were coming from and heard our feedback about our previous surgery experiences with Mattie. 

In most training hospitals, the doctor who does your surgery, isn't always the doctor who follows up with you. In many cases, you are followed up by residents. I explained to Dr. Chahine that I did not want Mattie followed up by his residents, that I expected him to be on point. Not only was he on point, but he visited us daily post surgery! Even on a Sunday, which back then happened to be Father's Day! He is an absolutely incredible doctor, who I saddened to say is no longer in the Washington, DC area. 

Why am I mentioning this? Because every year around Christmas or New Year's, Dr. Chahine makes a contribution to Mattie Miracle! Can you believe this? I think his kindness and support speaks volumes and I will always remember his incredible compassion. 

January 15, 2020

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken in January of 2003. Mattie was 9 months old. We took him to Roosevelt Island that weekend and he was shown here in his favorite mode of transportation. On Peter's back! Mattie disliked being in a stroller. But I did not realize that at first and therefore we must have purchased at least three different types of strollers in hopes that one would work. The lesson I learned from this was that it was important to follow Mattie's cues and he preferred sitting up high with his feet dangling. 

Quote of the day: We hope all danger may be overcome; but to conclude that no danger may ever arise would itself be extremely dangerous.Abraham Lincoln

Today is Wednesday, and in a five day time span my neighborhood has had a suicide (on Friday), a homicide, and an armed robbery (yesterday). I attached links to the homicide and robbery that we found out about yesterday. We are used to hearing about crimes practically on the hour or by the minute, depending upon the way you consume your news. Yet when it is in your own backyard it does force you to stop and assess the danger that you live with and wonder..... how safe am I? All I know is our neighborhood has been changing drastically over the last ten years and unfortunately it is very hard for residents to get their voices and issues addressed. In some ways the individuals breaking the law have more rights than we do. 

This is Maslow's model that I remember being introduced to back in graduate school. It is an interesting pyramid of human needs. If you look at the base of the pyramid, you will notice the physiological level. This level highlights our most basic needs for.... food, water, shelter, etc. Without stability at this level, we can not possibly move up the pyramid and focus on higher order needs like respect for self and self-actualization.

I believe that the issues our community has been facing this week, cause all of us to pause. Or perhaps reflect and feel uncertain. Peter and I are already trying to find equilibrium post-holiday season and now we can add this additional uncertainty to our lives. Having seen Mattie undergo cancer treatment and then die, makes it hard for me to come to terms with what I am seeing around me this week. Which is a total disregard for human life. 

Southeast DC man charged in deadly stabbing outside Virginia Avenue church soup kitchen (homicide):

Armed Robbery:

January 14, 2020

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Tuesday, January 14, 2020 -- Mattie died 537 weeks ago today. 

Tonight's picture was taken in January of 2008. It is hard to believe that this photo was taken 6 months prior to Mattie being diagnosed with cancer. As to me, he looked like the picture of health. This was what weekends used to look like for us, as we always took Mattie out regardless of the weather to walk and explore. I learned from an early age with Mattie, that he loved fresh air and open surroundings. He responded better to them!

Quote of the day: If the people we love are stolen from us, the way to have them live on is to never stop loving them.James O’Barr

My friend Margy sent me this photo today! Who is this fellow? His name is Anthony. Or I used to call him "the fiddler!" Anthony is one of the gifted music volunteers who visits local hospitals and shares his talents with others. 

Anthony visited Margy today at Fairfax Inova and I guess they got to talking. Anthony told her that he visits Georgetown too. So of course Margy asked Anthony if he knew Mattie. Not only did Anthony know Mattie, but he remembered him VERY well. In fact, Anthony told Margy that he was impressed with Mattie. As Mattie welcomed a new patient one day into their music circle. Anthony told Margy that despite whatever intense pain Mattie was in, he was always nice to fellow patients. Which to me is a lovely memory as Anthony has a different lens than me and I am happy Mattie was perceived this way. Anthony is another memory keeper of Mattie's and I was touched to hear this story. 

This photo was taken in March of 2009. That weekend the Children's Art Gallery in the hospital had its grand opening, with entailed a party. Mattie and I contributed art pieces to this grand opening. Art that remains in the Gallery today. In any case, do you see Anthony? He is on the right holding the violin. 

Given Mattie's love for music and self expression, I knew ALL the Studio G volunteers who came to the hospital.... this entailed musician, artists, poets, you name it! Mattie could have been in the worst of moods, but if he knew Sally the Story Lady was coming to the floor for example, he energized for her visits. I will never forget Sally, Jude (the man with the guitar) or Anthony (the man with the violin). 

January 13, 2020

Monday, January 13, 2020

Monday, January 13, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken on January 13, 2009. Mattie was in NYC and we were staying at a hotel. We were there so Mattie could begin experimental treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering. When we checked into the hotel, we were greeted with a care package filled with all the amazing things you see here. Where did the care package come from? From Linda, Mattie's child life specialist at Georgetown Hospital. I do not know who appreciated this package more! But what I do know was we all felt like our DC health care team was thinking of us and was cheering us on. 

Quote of the day: Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles. It empties today of its strength. ~ Corrie Ten Boom

This is a photo of the iconic Watergate Complex. I pass it practically everyday with Sunny. The Watergate Complex is a group of six buildings in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Covering a total of 10 acres and it is adjacent to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Built between 1963 and 1971, the Watergate was considered one of Washington's most desirable living spaces, popular with members of Congress and political appointees in the executive branch. The complex has been sold several times since the 1980's. In the 1990's, it was split up and its component buildings and parts of buildings were sold to various owners.

This is a close up of the complex. On the right side is a residential building and on the left is a commercial building, with many businesses housed inside. Why am I telling you this?

Well on Friday morning, someone jumped from the commercial building. It was a suicide and our neighborhood was cordoned off and crime units were on the scene. I did not learn about this from the news or reading a paper. I learned about it from a friend who works near this building. 

Hearing about this suicide bothered me all day. As I can only imagine the lives immediately changed and forever altered by this man's death. In our serene part of the city, where we are surrounded by university students and government/business people, we rarely hear news like this. It leads me to wonder what do we do if we know someone we work with is suicidal? How likely are we to seek out help for this person, when we know that confronting this topic could jeopardize the person's job and relationships? 

I have no answers, other than I think it is important to observe and listen to those around us. As we truly never know how we can alter (for the better) someone's thoughts and feelings at any given moment. 

January 12, 2020

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken on January 13, 2009. We were in NYC and Mattie's art therapist got us 6 tickets to see the Lion King. We brought my lifetime friend, Karen, and Mattie's babysitter Emily (and her fiance) to the production. This was Mattie's first and only Broadway show. He absolutely loved it! After the show we were all invited back stage and had the opportunity to meet Nala, one of the leads in the musical. Nala asked us to roar and pose like a lion. Peter was holding Mattie because he was unable to walk and stand on his own. 

Quote of the day: One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again. ~ Abraham Maslow

This is the beauty of Sunny! I think it is an absolute riot watching him decide whether he is going to come downstairs and be with us, or stay upstairs. The motivators for him coming down the stairs are treats and walks. He knows that on the weekends, I typically spoil him with a scrambled egg while we are having breakfast. So this morning he tip toed downstairs to see if his egg was ready!
It was like spring in DC today! Too lovely to spend inside. So we took Sunny for a four mile walk and he LOVED It. It was practically 70 degrees today while walking and it was the perfect weather. 

Post walk, I had a lot of Foundation work to catch up on. We completed our Combined Federal Campaign (CFC, and it is like the United Way, but for governmental employees who wish to contribute to charities) application today. One down and so much else to do. While on the cruise, I was invited to contribute to a book chapter this month and also present at the National Academy of Sciences on January 21. Since I did not account for these things in my schedule, I am now scrambling to put ideas together as the time line for these things are weeks away.