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

February 6, 2021

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Tonight's picture was taken in February of 2009. You maybe asking yourself..... what was happening here? Well we were in the hospital hallway having a physical therapy session. However, Mattie pretended to be the therapist and me and Anna (Mattie's therapist) were the patients. Anna wanted Mattie to do this twister type game! However, it was new to Mattie and he wasn't eager to try it, so we offered to go first. He liked that idea a lot! Mind you I was used to participating in Mattie's therapy sessions even before he was diagnosed with cancer. As Mattie started occupational and speech therapy as a toddler, and I was always his side kick in all the sessions.   

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

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 26,908,454
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 461,910

We took Sunny to Great Falls today. Sunny absolutely loves it. This was also a park Mattie enjoyed going to. I have no doubt Mattie and Sunny would have been great pals. Along our journey today, Sunny got a lot of oohs and aahs! People are just attracted to him, and truly admire his kind and gentle spirit! 

I spent a good part of the day trying to complete the assessments and other assignments our professional fundraising consultant gave to us. I have been maintaining Mattie Miracle's donation database since 2009! My database makes sense to me, but it may not to someone else. Most certainly the data the consultant is asking of us, is causing me to have to re-organize my database to answer her questions. So needless to say, I have been spending hours on this task. Am I learning something new? I am not sure! But I can say that the data presented in the fashion she is asking for it confirms a lot of what I intuitively know! WE HAVE LONG-TIME donors and on average over 1,000 people contribute to Mattie Miracle each year.  

February 5, 2021

Friday, February 5, 2021

Friday, February 5, 2021

Tonight's picture was taken in February of 2009. We walked into the outpatient clinic that day and found Mattie's art therapists (Jenny and Jessie) working on a hand crafted sign welcoming children and patients to the in-patient pediatric units. They asked Mattie if he wanted to contribute to the sign. His first reaction was NO, until they invited him to add a foot print to the sign! Mattie thought that was a GREAT idea, so you can see Jessie painting Mattie's foot. To this day this Mattie footprint can still be found on the 5th floor of the hospital.

The famous footprint!

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

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 20,779,193
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 458,791

The highlight of my day today was walking Sunny on Roosevelt Island. First of which it was a glorious weather day in DC. I think it reached the 50s and the sun was glorious. I literally could walk the Island without multiple layers, gloves, and a hat. It felt like spring and both Sunny and I were enjoying our time in the fresh air. It reminded me why I think Washington, DC is so special in the spring. 

While on the Island, I met an older couple. He was a birder and had binoculars in tow, and his wife, Linda, admitted she doesn't spot things as quickly as her husband. But she also said walking with him is more about strolling to find birds, rather than the actual walk. We met each other twice during our 90 minute walk. The second time we bumped into each other, Linda, really stopped to talk with me. 

She loves dogs and her husband is a cat person. Sound familiar?! Just like me and Peter. In any case, she took a liking to Sunny. She then shared with me that they recently lost their cat. The cat was very sick and she said her home looked like a hospital for the past several months. She mentioned that her husband still feels like he can see the cat out of the corner of his eye when he is home. That may sound odd, unless you are a bereaved pet owner. I totally understood what she was reporting as we felt this way for the longest time after Patches died. 

There is something very special about bonding with an animal. One may think how hard could it be if your cat or dog dies? The answer really is it could be quite devastating. As animals really do become part of the family. But on a very difficult level, because animals are truly dependent on us and they give us unconditional love. Animals provide us a purpose, meaning in our lives, and I have found that I meet many people while walking because Sunny is by my side. 

In any case, while talking about the cat that recently died, Linda was tearing up and she says her husband can't even talk about it. He gets too emotional. What I find particularly interesting about this is.... do you think Linda tells this story to everyone she meets? Maybe! But my hunch is no! Most people do not want to hear about things dying nor the consequence of the loss on us. Yet I feel very comfortable talking about loss and listening to other people's loss story. I truly believe that I must indicate this somehow non-verbally, which is why I have heard many stories over the years since Mattie died. I don't find these stories sad actually, I find them empowering. As I think it is meaningful to hear how other people describe grief and loss and particularly how they live with it in order to MOVE FORWARD, RATHER THAN MOVING ON!

February 4, 2021

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Tonight's picture was taken in February of 2006. This was classic Mattie. He LOVED playing with clay. If you look closely, you will see that he had clay all over the place. Stuck in cars, trains, and his car carrier. Ironically after every play session, we did a clean up, which wasn't a fun task to teach Mattie, but it worked. He understood his role as a helper, and that he was part of the family, and therefore we all had responsibility for our things. 

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

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 26,642,744
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 454,596

On World Cancer Day it seems appropriate to share this story. I went to see a doctor at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital today for my hand. While on campus, I always check out the Children's Art Gallery. A Gallery that meant the world to Mattie, as he was at it's grand opening in March of 2009. Not only was he there, but he contributed a LEGO model of his "ideal hospital room" and behind the model was a story Mattie created! 

March 2009 at the Children's Art Gallery Grand opening!

The story was typed up and framed! Mattie has been gone from our lives for 11 years! But Mattie's story remains in the Hospital's art gallery. I am grateful to MedStar's art therapy and child life departments, because they understand that childhood cancer IS NOT JUST ABOUT THE MEDICINE. 

Unfortunately around 7 children die A DAY in the USA from cancer. As a mom who lost her only child to cancer, it means the world to me to see Mattie's story, which is part of his legacy, STILL on display in the Gallery.  

On World Cancer Day we remember Mattie as well as all children impacted by cancer, and their incredible and courageous families who support them.

Meanwhile, for the past two months I have been dealing with finger pain, stiffness, and clicking when my middle finger was bent. So I went to see an orthopedic hand doctor today. He confirmed that I have trigger finger. Diagnosis of trigger finger doesn't require any elaborate testing. Basically he did a physical exam, and I had to open and close my hand, checking for areas of pain, smoothness of motion and evidence of locking. Ironically I did not realize where the pain was originating from until he pressed on the tendons in my palm. 

The hand has flexor tendons that fix to the forearm muscles and bones of the fingers. Contract the muscles, and the flexor tendons live up to their names and allow the fingers to flex and bend. Each of the flexor tendons passes through a tunnel in the palm and fingers that enable it to glide smoothly as the finger bends and straightens. This tunnel is called the ‘tendon sheath.’

Along the tendon sheath, bands of tissue called ‘pulleys’ hold the flexor tendons firmly to the finger bones. The tendons pass through the pulleys as the finger moves. The pulley at the base of the finger is called the ‘A1 pulley.’ This is the pulley that is most often involved in trigger finger.”

Stage 1: The hand is tender at the site of the inflamed pulley and tendon.

Stage 2: The affected finger will catch or click when bending it, but it doesn't get stuck.

Stage 3: The most severe, the finger will get stuck in a bent position (like your are pulling a trigger). The tendon is too swollen and gets stuck in the pulley. 

You get trigger finger when that A1 pulley thickens or makes it tough for the flexor tendon to move through it when the finger bends. As time passes, nodules can form on the flexor tendon, which causes pain should the finger flex. In the most severe instances, your finger might lock or become fixed in a bent position.

This is a photo of the internet. But exactly what happened to me today! I was given an injection of a cortisone into the tendon sheath to reduce inflammation and allow the tendon to glide freely again. This is the most common treatment, and it's usually effective for a year or more in most people treated. But sometimes it takes more than one injection.

The most common side effect of a cortisone shot is “flare.” I have been told to ice my hand, but I can already tell my finger is very swollen! In fact after he gave me the shot, my whole finger went numb for about an hour. Fortunately he warned me and prepped me for what to expect. There are NO KNOWN reasons for trigger finger, but he said there is a correlation between people who have carpal tunnel (which I got when pregnant with Mattie, and continued to have bouts of it even today) and trigger finger. I am grateful for early intervention, as I don't want my finger to land up permanently bent. 

February 3, 2021

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Tonight's picture was taken in January of 2006. Mattie was three and a half years old and by that time LOVED baths. Which was ironic, because for the first year and half of his life, Mattie did not like water and it was a trial just getting him clean. But at some point, he switched and grew to love bath time. He literally could stay in the water for hours if I let him. It wasn't so much about the bath as it was about playing in the tub. Mattie would drop in toy cars and just about everything in the tub and make up all sorts of play schemes with his toys. 

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

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 26,533,999
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 450,088

Peter and I are working on creating many new documents for the Foundation this year. One of which is a strategic plan. Mattie Miracle is 11 years old and we are now in the position to consultant with a fundraising professional. She has been helpful so far as she has encouraged us to get a financial audit done and develop a strategic plan. Both documents are needed when attracting larger donors. 

Interestingly I feel like Peter and I have had our own internal compass for the Mattie Miracle, which is why we never created a strategic plan. Certainly during the inception of the Foundation we couldn't have generated such a comprehensive plan, as we were really just figuring out how to stand up on our own two feet both as parents dealing with child loss and as a new foundation. 

I will always remember early on when we were just created that another non-profit told me Mattie Miracle would NEVER make it. She gave us 3 years before we'd fold. Now 11 years later, we are still up and operational, have a strong support base, and have accomplished more than most larger organizations! Which reminds me that it isn't money that makes things happen, it is people. 

Mattie Miracle has given me the opportunity to connect with the best and brightest psychosocial thinkers in our Country and Canada. Together we all share a vision and appreciate one another and through this collaboration, evidence based Psychosocial Standards of Care were created and published in a top tier medical journal. But we did not stop there! In 2020, a companion toolkit was created to help implement these Standards at treatment sites around the Country. As Mattie Miracle believes that childhood cancer is NOT JUST ABOUT THE MEDICINE and receiving optimal psychosocial care positively impacts health outcomes and quality of life. 

It is one thing to understand what we do and to run the Foundation, and another thing to capture what we do on paper and draft a strategic plan. Fortunately for me, Peter has created many strategic plans in the life of his career! But now he has to teach me to think this way! So I am learning, which is something I would say the Foundation has forced me to do right from day one! After all if I want....  

  • a website designed, I have to do, 
  • a mass mailing to go out, I have to do,
  • a newsletter written, I have to do  

You get the picture! Necessity is the mother of invention, and when you find something you are passionate about, you then find the energy, time, and determination to get it done! 

February 2, 2021

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Tuesday, February 2, 2021 -- Mattie died 592 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in January of 2004. Mattie was a year and half old and playing in our living room. Mattie had books upstairs and downstairs and as you can see, he had several spread out all over the floor. But directly in front of Mattie was a box of VHS tapes. After all, DVDs were just beginning to come out when Mattie was born. In either case, Mattie loved the boxes that VHS tapes came in, and he used them to build, stack, and incorporate into his play schemes. Maybe not the true intent of the video, but it provided hours of creativity and play. 

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

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 26,406,658
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 446,272

I wanted to highlight a press release that went out today about Mattie Miracle. 

Press Release: Kearney & Company Continues Support of Mattie Miracle With $10,000 Donation

The press release announced the exciting news that Kearney & Company, a corporate sponsor of ours since 2015, donated $10,000 to Mattie Miracle in December of 2020. They have officially become one of our top sponsors! We are deeply grateful to their commitment to us and to children with cancer.

Read the Press Release

Look at my colleagues hard at work today! They were sleeping on the job!!!
I took Sunny for a walk on the Island today. I love walking the Island in the snow. It is quiet, peaceful, and nature seems to be popping out all over the place. 
Sunny spotted this hawk in the tree. 
One of Sunny's favorite things is deer! If I let go of him, he'd be chasing them all over the place. I find Roosevelt Island a wonderful escape from the daily grind of work and isolation. It is a special place any time of year, but there is something magical about it in the snow. 

February 1, 2021

Monday, February 1, 2021

Monday, February 1, 2021

Tonight's picture was taken in January of 2005. Mattie was two and a half years old and I most likely snapped this photo because of the impish smile on Mattie's face. Mattie was the kind of child who followed me around our home. If I left a room, sure enough minutes later Mattie would be right behind me. Case in point, that day I went into the kitchen and Mattie wanted to get up on the counter to get a closer look at what I was doing. 

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

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 26,278,706
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 442,399

I find it absolutely amazing the amount of documentation, emails, phone calls and insurance correspondence that have arisen due to my dad's hospitalizations in May and June of 2020. The latest fiasco that my mom and I are dealing with is a letter sent to us from my dad's health insurer. Apparently one of his doctor's submitted a claim for a visit. But what troubles us is the doctor implies my dad was being treated because he was in an accident. 

When I looked at the letter, I did not recognize the doctor's name. Since I know most of my dad's doctors, my radar went off. So I did a google search on this doctor's name. Turns out this doctor oversees the wound care people who visit my dad weekly. Weekly since June! It will be delightful when my dad's pressure sore fully heals, so we can dispense with this team. 

In any case, this morning, I contacted my dad's home health agency. The agency who connected us with the wound care specialist company. The agency is equally disturbed by the letter I emailed to them. As we all know my dad was never in an accident, and what I find particularly fascinating is my dad never actually saw the doctor billing for the visit. Of course I gather that the doctor is overseeing the wound care specialist who made the actual in home assessment and visit. The home health agency has asked me to give them a day to figure out what's going on. But my patience is limited and I would like to contact the health insurer and let them know that my dad was never in an accident and therefore, to me this is a fraudulent medical claim. I say this because the letter makes it clear that the health insurer will not pay for this visit, as it is a third party responsibility. Got to love it. 

I truly wonder how many people just pay off medical bills because they just can't handle the bureaucracy and the voluminous amount of correspondence by mail?  I did a little digging and found..........

  • As many as 80 percent of hospital bills contain errors. No wonder, since there are nearly 70,000 diagnosis codes and over 71,000 procedure codes to sift through.
  • The wrong code can lead to an overcharge of hundreds — or thousands — of dollars. A National Academy of Medicine report estimates about $210 billion is spent on unneeded or overpriced treatments.

January 31, 2021

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Tonight's picture was taken in January of 2006. Mattie was playing with Peter's toy duck. This rocking duck actually belonged to Peter when he was a child. Peter's parents passed it down to Mattie. To this day, this duck sits in our living room. 

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

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 26,147,162
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 440,843

The playfulness of Sunny! Sunny will be ten years old in September, but he has a lot of puppy in him!
It was a snowy day in DC! We had many doves hanging out on our oak tree. Of course our cat, Indie, was having a ball staring at birds all morning. 
We took Sunny for a walk on the National Mall. It was hard to believe that the forsythia is beginning to bloom!
People had created several snowmen on the Mall. 
Sunny loved his walk today!
Even the crabapple trees are blooming. Not sure how that is possible, because if I were a tree in this weather, I would be shut down until further notice.