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: www.mattiemiracle.com 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

December 19, 2020

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2002. In fact it was the first snow fall for the season and the very first snow Mattie ever saw! Mattie was 8 months old, and I wanted our family Christmas card cover to be special that year! After all, it was our baby's first Christmas. So when I saw the snow, I dressed Mattie up, put him in his exercise saucer and brought him out on our deck. This was "Santa Mattie!" I can't tell you how many photos Peter snapped that day, but out of all of them, this was the one that won out and was placed on our Christmas cards. 


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

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 17,631,293
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 316,006


Peter and I had a 7am flight to Los Angeles today. Literally we were up at 3:45am to get ready, finished packing, and it was important to me to leave our home clean. Especially since I won't be there for a month. 

It was a full day it felt like by 7am. Newsflash the airport in DC and the plane were packed. Once on the plane, we were second in line for take off, when the pilot turned the plane around. We were headed back to the gate we had just left! Why? Turns out the plane needed more fuel and the cargo needed to be better balanced under the plane! Really? This was a new one for me, I never heard of this oversight before, but I am happy the pilot flagged it before we took off. 

Peter snapped some incredible photos in the sky. Some of the clouds remind me of waves in the ocean!
I felt we got a beautiful aerial view of our Country on this flight. 

Peter and I literally turned to each other mid flight and said.... wasn't this supposed to be a smooth flight? Our pilot set the expectation for no turbulence and it would be smooth flying! Ironic, since we literally had turbulence throughout the entire flight. 

This reminded me of a zebra!
To me it looked like cakes dusted with powdered sugar. 

To me this reminded me of photographs of earth taken from space. 
Amazing terrain.
When I begin to see these reddish rocks, I know we are approaching California. 
Looks like cracks in ice! 

It was a busy day of grocery shopping, doing chores, getting dinner, serving it, cleaning up, and the list goes on. I have come to conclusion that it is easier to cook from scratch than picking up food and having to reheat and serve it at home. I almost felt like it was double the work. 



December 18, 2020

Friday, December 18, 2020

Friday, December 18, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2007. Mattie was five years old. By that point, Mattie was old enough to understand the notion of taking photos and would sit still and smile. Which was a night and day difference from the previous years. Mattie loved his reindeer headband and I am so glad Peter captured this in a photo. We couldn't have possibly believed when this photo was taken that a year later Mattie would be diagnosed with cancer and would endure chemotherapy and surgeries. 

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

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 17,390,245
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 312,845


It has been a full day of chores, running around, packing, and doing last minute Foundation work in order for me to be away for a month. I am heading to Los Angeles to provide support for my dad and give my mom a break. 

This aerial photo is of Sunny's retreat that we take him to in Chantilly, VA. I am so happy we found a new place to board Sunny, as I was less than thrilled with his last place. This new facility was recommended to me by Sunny's surgeon. It is a boarding facility with an on-site vet, and it has 6 wooded acres with multiple fenced areas for exercise and walking around. Which I know Sunny loves. Sunny has a daily schedule which consists of walks, hikes, treats, and lambs wool bedding! All I know is when we picked him up from Pender Retreat in the summer, Sunny was happy and his mood was stable. Unlike his previous boarding experiences, where Sunny would come back to us agitated and depressed. 

Meanwhile, Miss Indie was boarded at our vet early this morning. They love her there and frankly she is so easy going, that I don't really worry so much about her. I am signing off for today. Will be writing from LA tomorrow evening!

December 17, 2020

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2006. Mattie was four years old. I snapped this photo because I thought it was hysterical that Mattie decided to put Peter's jeans on and walk around the house. What this photo also reminds me is that at one time we used to decorate our home for Christmas. I wasn't over the top like a Hallmark movie, but nonetheless, everything was very festive. Mattie's tradition was to put his toy Christmas train set around our tree (you can see it in this photo). The train worked on batteries and it even puffed out billows of steam.




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

  • number of people diagnosed with the virus: 17,163,944
  • number of people who died from the virus: 310,095

Though bitterly cold, Sunny and I went back to Roosevelt Island today for our big walk of the day. Mind you, we walk Sunny about 3-4 times a day. When Sunny stops in his tracks and points in a direction, I know this means something is there. Sure enough!
It was hard to photograph through all the branches, but there were plenty of deer. Do you see the one on the left with his head down and a head full of antlers?
Sunny received a Christmas present today! Who says presents are just for humans?
The present was a big hit and Sunny and Peter immediately went into action!





















This evening, we were invited to kick off a virtual fundraising event for Kearney & Co. Kearney has been a corporate sponsor of Mattie Miracle's since 2015. In these past five years, Kearney has donated over $10,000 to our cause.

This was the first time we have been asked to speak in front of the company! So to me this was a very exciting opportunity and the chance to personally thank them for selecting Mattie Miracle. 

In five minutes, we told them about us, Mattie, our mission, and highlights of our accomplishments. I also told them that we feel Kearney has special employees. Why do I say that? Well in 2015, when I was connected with the chair of Kearney's community service committee, we immediately clicked. He lost his mom to cancer and he understood what I meant when I said..... cancer is NOT just about the medicine. From that one phone call, the rest is history. Kearney hosts an annual Fall fundraiser, and we are the chosen beneficiary of their efforts. Truly remarkable!


Any case while we were talking, attendees of the event were writing us lovely comments in the chat box. I tried to take some photos!



We also had the opportunity to meet the COO of Kearney & Co. Brian was very welcoming and thanked us for our service to the community, especially after such a tragic loss. He wanted us to know that Kearney is in this for the long haul with us and announced that the company will be making a $10,000 donation to us this year! I am still stunned! I had no idea this was going to happen tonight. 
Tonight's video interaction and these chat messages made my Christmas. These were not gifts I had expected but ones that make me pause and reflect that others see and appreciate the value in Mattie Miracle! 


December 16, 2020

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2006. My parents were visiting and my mom took this photo. I have very few photos of the three of us together. So when I find one, it is special! Mattie was always so full of energy, that to snap a photo, we practically had to hug him down!



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

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 16,885,623
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 306,363


Here's the big news in our home today! A press release went out about Peter's new job! That may not sound significant, but it truly is! Peter has been looking for a job since November of 2019. COVID-19 did not help matters job wise. Being without work has great social and emotional consequences on a person, and though it wasn't me who was looking for a job, I feel equally excited because I was invested in the process and the day to day concerns and discussions. Now that Peter is back to work full-time, it is yet again another adjustment for me. As I got used to sharing the load of our daily activities together. I can't tell you how many walks we took on Roosevelt Island together, talking and brainstorming the job search this year. 

Peter's Press Release: 

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/thornberry-names-peter-brown-new-president-and-ceo-301193987.html


It was quite a weather day in Washington, DC! Our first snow fall for the season. It was a cold, snowy, and sleeting day. Not a lot of accumulation, but definitely cold and enough to make commuting difficult. 

Sunny and I walked a very peaceful Roosevelt Island today. The only people out walking were with dogs or children! Both of which need exercise and fresh air. 

As we were leaving the parking lot of the Island, I noticed two cars near each other. One was helping the other. One of the car's windows were broken and things were stolen from the car. Right in the middle of the day, at a National park. I felt so sorry for this person and truly considered myself lucky that our car was untouched. What on earth is happening to Washington, DC?! The Pandemic and its shutdowns have sorely affected the overall health of our city. 

December 15, 2020

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2005. That year we took Mattie to Boston for Christmas. When we saw snow outside, we decided to take Mattie outside to try sledding. Mattie had no intention of going on a sled alone, but with Peter next to him, he was willing to try it. Mattie loved it, and unlike me he loved adventure and the sensation of movement. 


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

  • number of people diagnosed with the virus: 16,651,589
  • number of people who died from the virus: 302,689


Want to know what my highlight is this holiday season? It is stopping work at 6:30pm or 7pm for the day and having dinner with Peter and also watching a Christmas movie. I don't mean current movies, I mean the holiday classics. 

I am sure if I polled any teenager today they wouldn't have the foggiest notion of any of the movies I have listed tonight. But to me no December is complete without them! 
I know sometimes my readers check out movies or TV series I write about. All I can say is if you haven't seen any one of these movies, stop and make the time. I view watching one of them as my escape from the reality we are living in which includes never ending lock downs and my commuting back and forth to Los Angeles. 
This maybe one of my favorite holiday movies. Could be because I am a Cary Grant fan. But I absolutely love the message within the movie, which could be applied to all of us. We are all busy, but it is important to appreciate the gifts in front of us and not to take them for granted. 
Peter's favorite. Ironically until I met Peter, I never saw this movie before. One of my favorite lines from the movie...... "Dear George, remember no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings. Love, Clarence."













A classic which I grew up watching. I remember watching this movie with my grandmother. We both loved it. The funny part about this is years later while going to high school in Los Angeles, in my graduating class was Natalie Wood's daughter. 

Tonight's movie! 


December 14, 2020

Monday, December 14, 2020

Monday, December 14, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2004. Mattie was two years old and as you can see he was trailing around after Patches, our cat. In the beginning Mattie would try to pull her tail and tug on her fur. Most cats would have reacted or hissed. Patches did not. She had an intuitive sense that she had to be on her best behavior with Mattie. Of course, I also had to intervene and teach Mattie the appropriate way to interact with a cat. Needless to say, they became buddies. In fact, when Mattie was in the hospital and dying, he wanted Patches to come to his hospital room. The hospital refused to accommodate that wish. Which is unfortunate, but I had no energy at that point to fight a system that did not get the importance of a child's last request. 

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

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 16,420,309
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 300,420


What was this line? Try getting into the post office! Today I needed to mail a check for $46,000 to Children's Hospital at Sinai in Baltimore, MD. This check helps to endow our Child Life Program Fund, which pays for the salary of our child life specialist. 

I typically avoid the post office in December, but I had no choice today as I wanted to make sure the envelope went by certified mail. Needless to say it was a bitterly windy day, and standing outside wasn't on my top 10 list. Only 6 people are allowed into the post office at one time during COVID. Nonetheless, this is the post office which house's the Foundation's PO Box. The people who work in this post office are fantastic. Professional, efficient and very customer friendly. The US Post Office needs to clone this location, as I refuse to use my local post office in Washington, DC, given past experiences. 


My other outing was going to the grocery store. As I was picking up a few items, I noticed flower arrangements in the refrigerator. Since I just made six holiday arrangements for a friend last week, I was curious to see the price associated with this arrangement. To my amazement it was $53! I was stunned, especially given that the arrangement had more greenery than flowers. This one arrangement was $53, and yet for $85, I made six floral arrangements. Each tightly packed with flowers. I maybe missing my calling!






Meanwhile, I received an email today from a childhood cancer advocate. She wanted me to read the article entitled, Allostatic Load Associated with Poorer Health Outcomes. What is allostatic load? It is the "cumulative burden of chronic stress and life events on our physiological health." I haven't heard of this concept per se, but I am very familiar with the term caregiver burden. Caregiving has been documented to have physical and psychological consequences on the health of the family member providing care to a loved one. I agree with the article that physicians need to evaluate patients more holistically and understand the stressors they are under and how this impacts health and outcomes. 

Toward the end of the article, the author states:

It is also helpful in understanding the link between maternal post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and birth outcomes (i.e., pregnancy complications, preterm birth, pediatric cancer).

 

This sentence captured my attention immediately, as it did the cancer advocate who wrote to me. She was wondering my feelings on this and also became worried that her stressors in pregnancy caused her son to get diagnosed with cancer. Honestly if I did not know better, I too would have concluded that something in my pregnancy caused Mattie to develop cancer.  However, no oncologist I ever met would condone this philosophy (and believe me I have ASKED!!!), mainly because new moms experience all sorts of stresses, even requiring bed rest. But that doesn't mean all these children get diagnosed with cancer. I find that statement in the article deeply troubling and counter productive for parents. Do I think what happens in the womb can influence a baby's health and development? Sure, but until I see actual data connecting these psychosocial issues of a mom to the diagnosis of cancer in her baby, I am not buying it. 

The article left me saying..... where is your evidence? I also think as an author one needs to understand the consequences of her writings on the reader! It is my hope that other moms whose children have been diagnosed with cancer DO NOT read this article, because life is hard enough managing a childhood cancer diagnosis. But it is completely unproductive and inaccurate for parents to feel responsible for such a diagnosis, especially since the science doesn't substantiate the claim. 

December 13, 2020

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2003. That Christmas we took Mattie to Los Angeles to celebrate the holidays with my parents. It was a big deal for my family as Mattie was the first and only grandchild. Each day we did an activity with Mattie and in this picture he was outside with Peter in the backyard, exploring!



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

  • number of people diagnosed with the virus: 16,211,498
  • number of people who died from the virus: 298,923


It may be December, but it felt like Spring outside. It was a glorious day. We took Sunny on a three mile walk at Turkey Run park. This park isn't far from where we live and on weekends when Roosevelt Island is too busy and the parking lot is full.... we head to Turkey Run. 
We walked along the waterfront and for the time we were out and about, life felt more normal. We had conversations with other walkers today and met a few dogs as well. 
The beauty of the Potomac Heritage Trail!
Of course for Sunny, he was thrilled to be on a new adventure, as we took a path we had never been on before! 

In many ways, I am thankful for Sunny, because without him, Peter and I would probably not walk as much and we certainly wouldn't have a good excuse to leave our home. Instead, we would work the day away, and today was too nice of a day not to spend a part of it outside.