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

March 6, 2021

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Tonight's picture was taken in March of 2007. For spring break we took Mattie to Key West with Peter's parents. Along our journey we came across this aquatic center, which introduced children to marine life. This fellow took out a stingray to show it to Mattie. Mattie was curious but cautious. Which was why I typically tested things out first. 

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

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 28,938,762
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 524,066

This morning I received a phone call from a friend. This friend and I met when our children were diagnosed with cancer. Our outcomes have been different since her son is a survivor, but he has relapsed several times and life has been anything but easy for the family. What stunned me today was I learned my friend was just diagnosed with cancer and that we share a doctor in common. Honestly life isn't fair, as I would hope that having a child diagnosed with cancer would be more than enough for anyone one person in a lifetime!

As I find is true in 100% of cancer diagnoses, the discussion is always  psychosocial in nature. ALL the stuff doctors and hospitals don't want to address and face! In any case, as my friend was telling me about her cancer surgery, I reflected on the procedure I had done in September at the same hospital. My story and her story as it related to POOR patient care, compassion, and competency were the same! I find this deeply disturbing given that I wrote the hospital a four page letter about my experience and how staff need to learn about trauma informed care and compassion. I would like to think that my words and follow up conference call went somewhere and it wasn't a waste of time. After this morning's conversation, I realize it was. Which frustrates me and upsets me at the same time. As I don't care for hospitals that use buzz words like patient centered care, and then don't follow through. 

I complained and took my time to highlight issues because I did not want future patients to experience what I did! Instead of that happening, I see the same problems repeated in my friend's horrible experience. My friend has enough going on and should not have to expend the energy to advocate and share her experience with the hospital. But I told her when she has regained some strength, she should consider joining forces with me, as we reach back out to the hospital's administration. 

Can you imagine going into a hospital, unable to have a family member by your side because of COVID, contending with a cancer surgery and on top of all of this have to cope with insensitive healthcare professionals? These negative interactions stay with us and cloud our impression of a hospital system. Of which I am quite sure after my experience and my friend's experience, I wouldn't be heading back to that hospital for ANY inpatient treatment in the near future. 

My friend worried that her concerns and feelings weren't justified! I cleared that up right away. Needless to say today's call fired me up and reminded me once again how important Mattie Miracle is, because we had the wherewithal a decade ago to understand that cancer is NOT JUST ABOUT THE MEDICINE. Trying to get a healthcare system to change its thinking on holistic care is challenging, but it MUST be done, which is why I'm confident that Mattie Miracle's mission will never be obsolete. 

March 5, 2021

Friday, March 5, 2021

Friday, March 5, 2021

Tonight's picture was taken in March of 2008. As was typical, we took Mattie for a walk in the woods every saturday and sunday. Sometimes it was Roosevelt Island, and other times, we would explore other parks and trails. Mattie was my nature fellow. He thrived outdoors and you could even see his demeanor change. When Mattie was a baby, the only time he was really quiet was when he was in his stroller and being pushed around outside. Which is why early on in our relationship, I learned to be outside regardless of the weather. 

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

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 28,881,036
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 522,325

I couldn't take it anymore. I haven't cut my hair for a year. Today I finally got it styled again. My hairdresser who has been cutting and styling my hair for twenty years retired during COVID. So not only did I desperately need a haircut, I had to find a new person to do it! Given my BAD experiences with hairstylists in the past, I won't go to just anyone. 

Years ago when when Mattie was a baby, I went to about three different stylists. All felt that I needed very short hair. So I tried it, but hated it. It took me years for my hair to grow out from those three hairstylists. Which is why if I sense you aren't listening to me, you aren't going to be cutting my hair!

This is the after look. Yes she actually cut off two inches of my hair, but she gave me long layers so that I can still wear my hair long. 

While getting ready this morning, I heard on the radio a story about a man living in Georgetown who is fighting his neighbors about his right to display ten foot transformer statues in his front lawn. The man who lives in this house is a Georgetown professor in neurology and neurosurgery. Given that people are stuck at home, he wanted to provide some fun and entertainment for people and children in his neighborhood. So he took some of the statues in his house and brought them outdoors. Typically flower boxes are by his front door, but he removed them and replaced them with the statues. So the question is why are the neighbors complaining now, considering something large was always standing in that space. 

Neighbors are arguing that these statues are eye sores, they detract from the neighborhood's character and charm, and if this is allowed, then what will be next? Neighbors also complain that the statues are bringing traffic onto their street and people are congregating during COVID. City officials have gotten involved and they are trying to determine if the land the statues are sitting on belongs to the professor or to the city. If it belongs to the city, he will need to file for permits in DC. 

I honestly don't know where I stand on this issue. As I feel homeowners should have some say as to what they want to do and display on their property. I am sure if Mattie were alive, he would think this is neat. I on the other hand am not quite certain I would want to see this outside my window everyday. Though in comparison to the graffiti and twenty homeless tents that I see every day from my bedroom window, I would prefer the transformers.

March 4, 2021

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Tonight's picture was taken in March of 2009. Mattie was in the child life playroom at the hospital and in the middle of a science experiment. On Fridays, the University's chemistry club would visit the pediatric floor to interact with the children and do hands on learning. Mattie LOVED all these visits, so much so that even when he was too weak or ill to leave his room, he always requested the Club leaders come in to visit him. I can't tell you how thankful I was for these positive diversions!

Quote of the day: Coronavirus update from Johns Hopkins.

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 28,819,554
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 520,071

It was a day of walking for me, with over 20,000 steps, which rounds out to about 10 miles. First thing this morning, I had to walk to the dentist. That is about a 35 minute walk in Washington, DC. Typically I don't mind the walk, but with buildings boarded up, homeless everywhere, and instability all around me, it makes me uneasy. After that adventure, I got home and Sunny wanted to go out for a walk. So I took him to Roosevelt Island and we walked for two hours. Then I got home and a friend asked if I would meet her and her niece near the George Washington University campus. Her niece is a high school student and is starting early with looking at colleges. Because of where Peter and I live, I always traverse the University's campus. But it is different when you are showing someone else around. 

I did not take these photos. I downloaded them from the internet. Despite the fact that the University is in the heart of the city with no defined boundaries, it is a very lovely urban campus. We have two quads where students typically gather. This is one of them, right near the library. I can't tell you how many times I would cross this quad while I was at school. Even after I had Mattie, I would take his stroller on campus and we would sit near the fountain, feed the birds, and enjoy the grass space. 

In many ways today's walk was like a trip down memory lane. A memory of simpler times (even though getting a PhD was stressful and challenging) in which I naive about children being diagnosed with cancer. 

This is the second quad that I absolutely love. During the spring the trees and flowers are blooming and it is simply a glorious space. A space I took Mattie to as well. I must admit, I am not used to walking through this campus and not seeing a ton of students. It is just unnatural and makes you sad. 
I passed many buildings on campus that I either took classes in, taught classes in, or worked in. This building is the Graduate School of Education. I spent ten years of my life in this building, getting both a master's and Ph.D., working as the department's graduate assistant, and then as a part-time faculty member. It is thanks to my graduate assistant work, that my entire Ph.D. tuition was covered. I came to the University when I was in my 20s. So it is where I grew up and frankly given my trajectory there, I always thought my life would be in academia. But as I learned quickly, life throws you curves, and you have two choices..... learn, adapt, and evolve, or become stagnant, stuck, and bitter. It would be very easy for me to be bitter and today's walk back in time, does give me pause. But I earned my doctorate, no one can take that away from me, and I truly believe I took my academic experience with me through Mattie's cancer journey. Which ultimately shaped the vision and mission of Mattie Miracle. 

March 3, 2021

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2009. Mattie's support community organized and hosted the Mattie March in his honor. If you look closely, Mattie was in the center of the crowd, surrounded by ALL his health care team, close friends, and cousins. 

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

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 28,771,556
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 518,900

Do you believe it is possible to be glued to a computer all day trying to create a website? If you have any doubt, that was how I spent my day. I am not happy that our walk website company upgraded their platform. It adds another level of complexity to our May event. Thankfully I found this out NOW and I did not wait until the end of March. I even had a nightmare last night that I wouldn't be able to figure out this new configuration. It kept me up until I went back to sleep. 

Any case, I walked Sunny today and after his walk, I focused on the walk website! I figure if I take it in small dosages, it will get done and I won't be overwhelmed. Yet I have noticed now that non-profit events have a new look on how they introduce themselves to the public. What do I mean? Well instead of just going to our website to register, first there appears to be a landing page that highlights our Foundation and provides a history of the event. From there people can click onto the actual event page with registration. 

Every aspect of running the Foundation has always been about LEARNING and staying current. Because if we don't, no one else is going to be doing it for us. So that means, for me, learning technology and understanding what it can do for us, because during Walk season, team members typically contact me with technical issues and concerns, and I have to be able to figure out the problem. 

March 2, 2021

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Tuesday, March 2, 2021 -- Mattie died 596 weeks ago today. 

Tonight's picture was taken in March of 2007. That year we took Mattie to Florida for spring break. We found this traveler's palm and Mattie loved its fan shape. Mattie loved everything about traveling from the plane trip to experiencing new adventures. In fact I would have to say for the 7 years I raised Mattie, it was never dull, and it was wonderful to be able to see the world from his lens. Something that I will always miss. 

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

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 28,714,851
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 516,346

Sunny and I go for a long walk everyday. Typically to Roosevelt Island, as I no longer feel safe walking in the city. A sad commentary for Washington, DC. Given that we are all stuck at home, the last thing I want to walk through are the many encampments surrounding us. Instead, I need to see greenery, trees, and have a moment's of peace. Even medical doctors are talking about the importance of walking during the Pandemic. Going for a walk is a good way to get exercise and it may help with feelings of anxiety or depression that can so easily arise from being socially isolated for a year. 

I have made a friend of the Island. We see each other every morning when we walk our dogs. She has two dogs and both are interested in Sunny. Any case, we got talking one day about the places we like to walk and take our dogs. She told me about a park called Prince William Forest which I never heard of before. Don't you know it, the next morning when I saw her, she handed me a pamphlet about the park! A very kind and thoughtful gesture. I have found being a dog owner, that it is much easier to strike up a conversation and connection than walking alone. In fact, I can't think of a day when walking with Sunny that someone did not stop to admire him, comment on him, or ask to pet him. The beauty of Sunny. I would have to say that walking and Sunny are two protective factors that have helped me cope with everyday Pandemic living.

March 1, 2021

Monday, March 1, 2021

Monday, March 1, 2021

Tonight's picture was taken in March of 2007. It is hard to believe that this photo was taken in a spring month! That day we did get snow and of course that inspired Mattie to want to play and build snow castles outside. So we did it! Mattie was the kind of child who needed mental stimulation and challenges. Without that, he got bored and just did not seem happy. In any case, from Mattie I learned that it is okay to be outside regardless of the weather. He loved it, so I made it work. Which is why I know Mattie and Sunny would have been great companions. They are both motivated to be outside and exploring nature. 

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

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 28,659,784
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 514,333

Today was a very unusual day for me. I had a very productive morning, and at 11am, I decided to take Sunny to Roosevelt Island. After our walk, we got in the car and headed back home using the George Washington Parkway. It is a divided two lane highway, but it has its share of windy turns. It was also a rainy day, which never is a good thing in Washington, DC.

This photo shows you the section of GW Parkway that I was on. It isn't a photo from today, but one I found on the internet from an accident in the past. Today, I was where the two police vehicles were on the right hand side of the photo. I was driving in the right hand lane and there were three cars in front of me. It was a typical drive home, until I literally saw a car crossing from the left hand lane, flip in front of us in the air and he then landed by crashing into the stone wall on the right. I heard no brakes screeching, nothing to prepare me for what I saw. I literally had to stomp on the brakes because if I did not slow down, I would have crashed into the three cars in front of me. Fortunately Sunny was harnessed into the back seat, but even so, his whole body hit the back of our front seats. He did not know what was happening, but I had to panic stop. It is a true miracle that me, the three cars in front of me, and the driver who hit the wall are all okay. 

Thankfully I was able to brake and not hit any of the cars, but I consider this the gift of the week. Because we could have all landed up in the hospital or dead from such an accident. 

February 28, 2021

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Tonight's photo was taken in February of 2008. That weekend we took Mattie for a walk on Roosevelt Island. The Island was like nature's classroom and playground for Mattie. On each walking adventure, Mattie would find and claim either a stick, rock, acorn, or leaf. These items would come home with us and Mattie would add them to his pile in our common's area. I can't tell you how many things Mattie collected over the years. In any case, every time we pass the rocks on the Island, I always remember Mattie climbing them and exploring. 

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

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 28,594,583
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 513,052

It is that time of year when I turn my attention to our Foundation's Walk website. As it typically needs to be reset and updated for our annual May fundraiser. Today I learned that the platform our website used to sit on has been retired. The company has migrated to a whole new and improved system! Sounds good, right? 

I have mixed feelings about this news! Certainly I understand the need to improve technology, that will hopefully benefit our supporters who use the system, but from my standpoint, I now have to invest a lot of time in learning this new platform. Everything from designing the website from the ground up to all the administrative work on the backend that I need to manage like donations, registrations, and raffle tickets. So from my perspective it is a lot of work, work that I hadn't planned on, yet must be done. I started the learning process today, but I am just not happy about the change!

Meanwhile the weather is cold and raw, which inspired me to make homemade chicken soup. I love all kinds of soup, and to me nothing is better on such a depressing winter day.