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 10, 2020

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken in October of 2003. Mattie was a year and a half old, and this is really a follow up from last night's photo. If you compare the two photos, you can see that Mattie quickly adjusted to being around farm animals at the Fall festival, and he went from being afraid to having an up close and personal encounter with a goat.

Quote of the day: Today's coronavirus update from Johns Hopkins

  • number of people diagnosed with the virus: 7,706,256
  • number of people who died from the virus: 214,286

We spent hours on the deck cleaning out weeds and dead plants. We then migrated some of our plants inside for the winter. We bring in everything from Cana Lilies to our Meyer's Lemon tree. Not to mention our Butterfly Ginger Lily tree. Miss M (my name of the Meyer's Lemon tree) was a birthday gift this year from Peter and the Ginger Lily tree is something we bought in the Outer Banks of NC years ago. It was a tiny little plant back then! But it produces flowers in the shape

of white butterflies and their fragrance is intoxicating. A combination of a gardenia and honeysuckle. 

It takes some doing to make room for all the plants we bring in, but there are many plants we have kept alive for decades. In fact, the rubber tree you see all the way on the left hand side was given to me by a friend when Mattie died. It was a very tiny plant back then. Since that point, I have cut it back many times, but it is a survivor. Eleven years and counting!

This week, I had the chance to bump into an older neighbor of ours who lives on the floor above us. She loves our garden and she said that our greenery has brought her happiness during the COVID lockdowns. Typically Peter and I plant and tend to our garden every April. That did not happen this year, partly because of COVID and the other part is we were trying to figure out how to turn the Foundation's Walk into a virtual event. Then I had two trips to Los Angeles, and by the time I came back, in July, we debated about whether to just leave our deck space dormant this year. We decided not to, as seeing greenery helps our mood. But I am also aware of the fact that we have neighbors who equally enjoy our garden, so that was an incentive to for me to get it done. 

October 9, 2020

Friday, October 9, 2020

Friday, October 9, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken in October of 2003. Mattie was a year and half old and that day we went to a Fall festival. They had a petting zoo at the festival and we started at a young age introducing Mattie to animals. As you can see by his expression, he was rightfully cautious, but in time, his curiosity got the best of him and he learned to pet and interact with all the animals. 

Quote of the day: Today's coronavirus update from Johns Hopkins

  • number of people diagnosed with the virus: 7,648,256
  • number of people who died from the virus: 213,390

I woke up with my continued headache and wondered how on earth I was going to make it through a four hour long licensure board video call. Not sure I have the answer, but I managed my way through it. So at least I functioned much better today over yesterday. I know people reading this who have never had a migraine or cluster headache, probably are saying.... take an aspirin or Tylenol and move along. Unfortunately the kind of headaches I get involve severe and sometimes debilitating pain and therefore they aren't your typical tension headache. My fear yesterday was I had the making of a cluster headache coming on and my last experience with one produced NON-STOP pain for months on end. It's the kind of pain, where I would welcome a migraine instead. 

After a being on the call from 10am to 2pm, I needed to get my eyes and head away from the computer. So thankfully Sunny is always up for a walk. To Roosevelt Island we went. Apparently it is wild turkey season there, because we have seen more turkeys than ever before. Peter knows how the speak "turkey." He learned this from the wild turkeys that visit his parent's backyard. In any case, as Peter was speaking turkey, this one hopped up on the tree looking to identify where the sound was coming from!

There were four turkeys all hanging out with each other. You can see two of them here. To me it is the perfect place to walk, as it is close to where we live, you can immediately connect with nature, and it is a place where Mattie spent so many of his weekends growing up. 
The beauty of a white heron! 

October 8, 2020

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken in October of 2003. Mattie was a year and half old. This was typically how Mattie watched a video or TV show. He was the ultimate multi-tasker. As he had to be busy moving or doing something, but was still following along with what was on the screen. We kept all of Mattie's video tapes under the TV. As you can see, Mattie was taking out all the boxes. He then would stack and play with them. The only thing on the TV screen that would stop Mattie in his tracks and get his full attention was Elmo from Sesame Street. Mattie could be somewhere else in our home, but as soon as he heard Elmo's voice, he came running to the TV. 

Quote of the day: Today's coronavirus update from Johns Hopkins

  • number of people diagnosed with the virus: 7,589,353
  • number of people who died from the virus: 212,466

Last night before I went to bed, a felt a migraine coming on. But in addition to the headache, the area around my right eye had a stabbing pain. Unfortunately, the pain continued today. I would call the pain, excruciating, and it is more reminiscent of my one time experience with a cluster headache. Mainly because the pain is concentrated on one side, is around one eye, and the pain is ten times worse than a migraine. My issues are so significant today, that I can't spend much time reading anything or on the computer. Things were so bad that I went outside on our balcony with Sunny and both of us were lying on the ground. I needed fresh air and no other noise. 

Sunny went for his monthly grooming today. After that we took him for a walk around Huntley Meadows. A park Mattie used to love. 
Sunny was so excited to explore new territory, that he was practical running through the woods. 
Huntley Meadows is known for its birds. Do you see this cute woodpecker on the tree?
There is an amazing boardwalk at Huntley Meadows. Unfortunately dogs are not allowed on it. So I went out a few steps to take photos. But Sunny wasn't happy being left behind. 
It's a bird's paradise. I went out on the boardwalk to snap a photo of this Great Blue Heron. 
The water was filled with Willets, which are relatively large sized sandpiper birds. 
A Mattie favorite! Turtles were everywhere, with their heads up enjoying the beautiful sunshine. 
The boys were left behind! 

October 7, 2020

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken in October of 2002. Though Mattie was six months old, his expression reminds me of myself! I always thought Mattie looked like Peter when he was a baby, but it was around that time in Mattie's development that this all changed. It is down right eerie now as I reflect on this photo, how much we looked alike. 

Quote of the day: Today's coronavirus update from Johns Hopkins

  • number of people diagnosed with the virus: 7,535,794
  • number of people who died from the virus: 211,513

Why am I highlighting a photo of a purse that looks like a swimming pool? Well it connects with a dream I had last night. But this dream is recurrent, as the content of the dream was very familiar to me when I woke up this morning. Ironically the outcome of this thematic dream is also always the same. 

We all have stress dreams. They show up in different ways such as.... we dream we missed a plane, we forgot a key, being late, feeling like we are falling, and being chased. However, my recurrent dream is that my purse is stolen. Of course inside my purse are my wallet, phone, and other odds and ends. But of course the wallet and phone are typically the items in my dream that I am worried about missing and desperately searching to find them and get them back. In last night's dream, I can vividly see myself very upset that I don't have my wallet or phone anymore. While walking around in my dream, I see a large swimming pool. I mean gigantic, not your typical pool. In any case, while walking passed this pool, I tell Peter who is with me that I see my pink purse. It is sinking to the bottom of the pool. Peter, fully clothed, jumps in the pool and rescues the purse. As he hands it to me, I open the purse and everything there is perfectly intact. Nothing was stolen and NOTHING was wet! Then I woke up.

So what does all that mean? Why do I always have a recurrent dream about my purse being stolen? I personally think this has a lot to do with stress. I am less active now, thanks to our COVID restrictions. I am typically very active and running around, but months upon months of restriction has changed my life pattern. Not for the better. So whatever natural anxieties and tensions I live with, have no outlet by day. Therefore, I am quite certain they come out at night. 

But to me a purse signifies security, safety, and identity. All things that I have grappled with since Mattie's diagnosis and death. So I am not at all surprised that my anxieties come out in my dreams, but come out sideways.... with a purse and swimming pool. Any case, the dream has stayed with me all day, and got my thinking. 

The main outlet that I have is a long walk with Sunny! Roosevelt Island never disappoints, as I can always find something beautiful within nature to focus on and appreciate. 

October 6, 2020

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Tuesday, October 6, 2020 -- Mattie died 575 weeks ago today. 

Tonight's picture was taken in October of 2002. Mattie was 6 months old. As you can see, I took Mattie outside into our commons area to do what he loved the most.... walk. Mattie had no interest in sitting still and forget about crawling. He wanted to move and his "tot wheels" made that possible. We had the perfect enclosed space for Mattie to zoom around, to learn to fly a kite, and to learn to ride a bicycle.  

Quote of the day: Today's coronavirus update from Johns Hopkins.

  • number of people diagnosed with the virus: 7,488,372
  • number of people who died from the virus: 210,637

Do you ever feel like hours, minutes, and days are just flying by, and yet you don't feel like MUCH is different? Some days I feel like I get up and the next thing I know it, it is time to cook dinner. With a chunk of time in between, where I don't get as much done as I once did! It is very frustrating and on a subconscious level stressful.

Somehow, to me it is the first week of October, but in actuality it is the second week. Which means that Friday, I have a licensure board meeting. Yet if I did not receive a follow up email today about it, I have to tell you I would have completely tuned out to that my attendance was required. It simply wasn't on my radar scope, nor were the hundreds of pages of minutes and documents I have to read to prepare. This is a first for me, as I never am this disoriented. I blame living in limbo since March for my confusion. 

The one highlight of the day for me are our big afternoon walks with Sunny. As we were walking today, look what was standing in the middle of the path ahead?
Mama deer with her baby. Mattie would have LOVED this sighting. As he was always intrigued by mothers with their children. He liked to compare these sightings to him and me, and Mattie would typically say "that's just like us!"

October 5, 2020

Monday, October 5, 2020

Monday, October 5, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken in October of 2002. Mattie was six months old and a friend of mine sent me this doorway jumper. When I first saw it, I honestly thought 'no way!' I viewed it as dangerous, but then again I never took my eyes off of Mattie, so the likelihood he would get in trouble in this contraption was low. With the first introduction to this jumper, Mattie did not like it. But as he got more comfortable in it, he loved it. In fact, we would literally lightly bounce Mattie in this for several minutes at night to get him to sleep. The motion calmed him down. Of course that was short lived into we taught him how to sleep. 

Quote of the day: Today's coronavirus update from Johns Hopkins.

  • number of people diagnosed with the virus: 7,447,363
  • number of people who died from the virus: 210,043

I normally don't rant and rave over a TV series. Mostly because I think the majority of them have no substance or depth, and are typically not memorable. I admit to loving British dramas and series, but my mother in law introduced me to an Australian TV series called a A Place to Call Home. In fact, I saw an episode or two with her about two summers ago in Boston. It intrigued me enough to know that I wanted to see the rest of the series. 

So fast forward to life in COVID times. This is when Peter and I started watching the series. The series has 6 seasons. When I tell you both of us were hooked to this series, I am not kidding. Each night for the past several months, we would see an episode or two. I feel as if these characters have become part of my daily LOCKED DOWN life. As character development was superb and the inter-relationships were captivating. Last night we saw the LAST episode in the series. I was in tears, it was that touching. When a show can create a story line that weaves itself into your heart and mind, then you know it was well done. I will deeply miss seeing all the characters I have come to love over the last several months. If you have been looking for a great series to invest in, I can't say enough about A Place to Call Home

Set in Australia in the 1950's, A Place to Call Home is a compelling and romantic story of one woman's journey to heal her soul and of a privileged family rocked by scandal. Acclaimed actress Marta Dusseldorp leads the cast as Sarah Adams, a woman with a mysterious past who returns to Australia after 20 years in Europe.

Working her passage home aboard an ocean liner, Sarah becomes involved in the lives of the Blighs, a wealthy Australian pastoralist family. She develops an immediate connection with handsome and charming widower George, as well as his modern young daughter Anna and withdrawn daughter-in-law Olivia. But it is when Sarah unwittingly discovers a potentially scandalous Bligh family secret that her future becomes forever linked with theirs.

Only the uncompromising matriarch of the family, Elizabeth, and her grandson James, know Sarah has uncovered this family skeleton. Elizabeth is intent on keeping it that way - and Sarah at arm's length. Bearing the scars of war and facing the animosity of a determined matriarch, it is time for Sarah to face life again and begin her journey towards healing and hopefully finding a place to call home.

The highlight of our day was walking Sunny at Great Falls, a National Park. You can see Sunny's anticipation as we were driving into the Park. 
The beauty of our walk. 
Can you see the climbers on ropes down the cliff?
Sunny is on top of the world. A beautiful fall day, and a wonderful escape from our trying times. 
A grass snake right in our path. I am not a snake fan, regardless of their size or how harmless some of them may be. 

October 4, 2020

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken in October of 2002. Mattie was 6 months old. Back then, I think he looked a lot more like Peter. One of the things Mattie loved playing with were cups. He was captivated by their colors, that they stacked, and he could put things into them. Mattie was still finding his balance, so I propped him up on the couch with all sorts of pillows. But no matter what I put in front of him, he was always more interested in tracking me.

Quote of the day: Today's coronavirus update from Johns Hopkins

  • number of people diagnosed with the virus: 7,417,872
  • number of people who died from the virus: 209,802

I think the flu shot has slowed me down today. I am still functioning, but not myself. In between walking Sunny, I devoted about four hours to continuing education today. I enrolled myself in a 12.5 hour certification in trauma, grief, and loss course. As for today, I am halfway through the class. 

I have to say that this class is exposing me to the new philosophical approach to trauma. At one time (though the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders still insists of this criteria), we thought of trauma as a reaction to an event. These two leaders in the field are explaining the science of trauma and how it is a physiological disease and not a mental health issue. In essence it is the central nervous system's arousal that is experienced in the body. In fact, our brain can get conditioned in a way to responding with arousal (you know heart racing, stomach aching, blood pressure rising, etc) when we are faced with similar stressors in our lives. A rather frightening notion, to think our brain has a memory for trauma. 

The instructors went through an exercise with the class, asking us if we felt 100% safe now watching this class session? Two people raised their hands yes and the rest of us were on the fence. So the instructor pursued why we felt unsafe. He got us to see that we were bringing in our past experiences into this situation that caused us to feel unsafe now. But in all reality, if we wiped our memories clear or were in a relaxed state, we would see there was no imminent danger sitting in this virtual class. 

The course is encouraging us to apply what we are learning in our own lives. Naturally, I have always viewed childhood cancer as traumatic. However, today, I learned it is just the trigger that caused arousal to my sympathetic nervous system. It's this aroused state and my body's reaction that is the trauma. In fact, I would say my body is used to living in that aroused state, which may explain some of the physical illnesses I live with. In any case, there is a part within the brain that acts like radar to assess the immediate threats around us and then activates the body to run to protect. 

Mattie has been gone for 11 years. Yet if you ask me to get a scan in a hospital or a procedure, I can go from seemingly normal to agitated very quickly. After participating in this training, I see that my brain and body are conditioned to providing this arousal response, even when potentially I am not in danger. How to break this cycle, it appears to be learning to self-regulate my body so that I can release the muscle tension within and thereby free myself to have the insight to evaluate the situation appropriately. 

I am still trying to absorb the whole notion of trauma as being defined physiologically. What I absolutely agree with them on is that when in this heightened aroused state, NO cognitive work can be done. You just can't think logically. It is like trying to rationalize with a child during a tantrum. The child is on overload and no amount of talking is going to help rectify the situation. In a way this is also like trauma. Until one gets into a more relaxed and calm state, nothing more meaningful will arise. Any case, I see this class as applicable to my life and also if I knew then what I know now, it was very evident that Mattie showed many signs of arousal (tantrums, crying, angry, hostility, sleep disturbances, etc) early on in his cancer treatment, and sadly the notion of trauma never crossed his doctors' minds.