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

May 29, 2021

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2008. I remember this day like it were yesterday. It was right after a full year of kindergarten, and we met up with Mattie's girlfriend, Charlotte and her mom, Ellen. We were waiting to take the children on a Georgetown Canal Boat ride. This wasn't a staged photo, this was naturally just two friends sitting side by side enjoying each other's company.


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

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 33,251,717
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 594,304

Despite getting up at 6:30am, it took me a while to get it together! We were on the road by 9am headed to Boston. Peter and I are both exhausted as he flew home yesterday from a business trip to Nebraska. Meanwhile, I have been working around the clock, and literally if I stop moving, I start falling asleep!

It is a frigid weather weekend on the East coast. With rain, dampness, and it feels like it is in the 40s. I snapped a photo of us driving over the Delaware Memorial Bridge. 

On the NJ Turnpike, all of the  overpasses were displaying the American Flag, in recognition of Memorial Day. 
It took us about four hours to drive from DC to NYC. Which wasn't bad! Whenever we drive passed NY, I send a text to my lifetime friend, Karen! Who virtually waves. 
Sunny was highly anxious throughout the entire car ride. He was pacing back and forth on the back seat. At several points in our trip, the traffic was bumper to bumper. At which point, Peter opened the back window and Sunny was sniffing the breezes! 
It took us 9 hours to drive to Boston! It was a very very long journey! We hit lots of traffic in Connecticut and I would say this is where the majority of our slow downs occurred. 
The famous Boston Big Dig, created this nightmare. At one time, you could drive above ground, through the heart of the city. Now, they moved vehicle traffic below and created a park above, where the roads used to be. The Park is definitely lovely, but this underground tunnel system is like a cavernous race track! NOT a fan!
One of the by products of the Big Dip however is this cable stay bridge. I like the Zakim Bridge and I am happy we could drive through the city on the way to Peter's parents house. At one time, I lived here to go to graduate school, so it was nice to take a trip down memory lane.  

May 28, 2021

Friday, May 28, 2021

Friday, May 28, 2021

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2007. Mattie was five years old and I entitle this photo.... "my laundry helper." Why was Mattie in a cart? Because believe it or not, we do not have a washer and dryer in our unit. Instead, we have to go down two floors and traverse a long hallway, until we get to the machines. When Mattie was a baby, it was a royal juggling act carrying him and all the laundry. But as he got older, I made it a fun adventure to the laundry room. It either involved a ride on vehicle, a bicycle, or being in the cart itself. Super Mattie to the rescue. I recall after Mattie died, going down to the laundry room alone, my laundry companion wasn't with me, and it took me years to get used to that change. 

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

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 33,239,509
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 593,938


I have been working 12+ hour days for weeks now. I can safely say I am exhausted. But today was over the top! Balancing conference calls, taking Sunny on his two hour afternoon walk, doing chores, finishing the Walk video, writing the Foundation June newsletter, and also packing. It was an absolute whirlwind of a day. 

However, the highlight of my day was bumping into a woman who works in our complex, who we have known for years. She found out we are buying a house and she is very happy for us, as she became a recent homeowner herself and told me how wonderful it can be. In the midst of our conversation she said, "your neighbors are going to love you." To be honest, I wasn't expecting this comment, so instead of responding, I let her explain why she felt this way. To make a long story short, it is very touching to be considered an asset to one's community and to know that our presence has made a difference here. Keep in mind our complex has over 800 units. So we are talking about a lot of people. But there are a pocket of long time residents here and management has gotten to know us well. 

Though I live in the city, have graffiti, homelessness, and encampments all around me, I feel very safe in our complex. This has a lot to do, not with the residents, but the people who run and manage our complex. They look out for us and for Mattie Miracle. So it is hard to leave this behind. In any case, these unexpected moments, when we connect with people and have a meaningful connection and conversation, is what makes day to day living worthwhile. As it is one thing for me to miss our community, and quite another to know we too shall be missed. 

May 27, 2021

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2008. It is truly hard to believe that about two months later, Mattie was diagnosed with cancer. In this photo, you see Mattie holding a glass jar. It wasn't just any jar, it was our caterpillar jar. Literally each spring, Mattie would bring home tent moth caterpillars from school. The first year he did this, I had a steep learning curve. As I did not know what tent moth caterpillars ate or how to really house them until they transformed into moths. But we figured it out and quickly learned that the only leaves around us these fellows ate, were oak! I am not sure what Mattie loved more..... the metamorphosis process or our moth release celebration on the deck. 


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

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 33,217,582
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 593,276

It is 10:30pm, and I have focused all day, again, on the Walk. I can safely say that every acknowledgment letter has been either emailed or mailed, raffle prizes and top walker prizes were mailed, and my focus this week has been to create a Walk video and to begin to flesh out the June newsletter. I am in a panic to get this done, because we leave for Boston on Saturday. We will be visiting with Peter's parents and I am also going to Martha's Vineyard for a few days with friends while I am there. When we return from Boston, we close on the house on June 9th and then we leave for a trip to South Carolina two days later. June is a total whirlwind, which is why I knew I had to address all Walk issues now. 

I have created a lot of videos for the Foundation, but this Walk video has taken me a long time to develop. Perhaps it is because I am tired! I am not sure, but a virtual event requires a great deal of organization with communications, step counts, and photographs. Given that this is our second year doing this, I knew I had to develop a better process this year for tracking postings coming into us from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. As photos came in, I labeled them with the person's name and state they represented. It made it a lot easier for me to organize photos, but still there is no way of getting around the storyboard layout for the video. It just takes time, and more time! 

May 26, 2021

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

In May of 2008, we took Mattie to Calvert Cliffs, in Maryland. This is a very special park. You walk about a mile into the woods (it is a beautiful walk) and at the end of the walk, you land up on the beach. This part of the Chesapeake Bay is known for its fossilized shark's teeth. Mattie would dig and dig until he found some. I literally have a Ziploc bag full of teeth from our many adventures.


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

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 33,188,028
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 591,922


We dropped Peter off at the airport this morning, as he has a business trip to Omaha, Nebraska. Then Sunny and I headed to Roosevelt Island. It was a hot day, it almost felt like a summer, with high humidity. As I mentioned last night on the blog, Brood X cicadas are in full force in our region. While walking with Sunny, I recorded the sound so you can hear it! It would be impossible to describe and even the video doesn't do it justice. It truly is like something out of a sci-fi movie. It is a constant and almost deafening sound. 


I took a close up today of these red beady eyed creatures. I hate to tell you this, but I wasn't the only one taking photos of them!
What's with the holes!? This is where the 17 year cicada migrates up from the earth, in order to mature and mate. There are holes everywhere! Gives you some understanding for the volume of bugs all around us. 
In the warmer months, there is no way Sunny can walk without water. We had many stops today along our journey. I also caught Sunny trying to eat a live cicada. I stopped him, as I hear these bugs can cause gastric upset in dogs. 
As we were about to leave the island, Sunny stopped in his tracks, and wouldn't move. So I looked closely and sure enough, there was a deer. 
Meanwhile, Indie is in Peter detox. She is so desperate that she is now spending time with me. This cat hutch sits on my desk, so she was with me while I was working. 
Later in the day, it started to rain and thunder. Not a Sunny favorite. First he jumped on Mattie's bed and then hid in Mattie's walk-in closet. 



May 25, 2021

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Tuesday, May 25, 2021 -- Mattie died 608 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2009. I know exactly what was happening here! Mattie received his experimental immunotherapy treatment, and always within one hour of its administration, he would develop intense chills and would start shaking. The first time this happened to us, we were in NYC, where Mattie received his first dosage! The reaction to the medication was down right frightening, and we landed up having to take Mattie to the emergency room, where they gave him Demerol to counteract the symptoms. Mattie's little body went through total torture, and yet he complied and understood that this was his best option to manage the disease. 


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

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 33,164,824
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 590,905


Check out this video! Brood X Cicadas are here in Washington, DC! Millions of bugs! More of them than people! The last time we saw Brood X was in 2004, and Mattie was two years old. Every 17 years, billions of Brood X cicadas tunnel up from the ground to spend their final days in the sun. This generation got its start back in 2004. The newly hatched cicada nymphs fell from the trees and burrowed into the dirt. They have been underground ever since, feeding on sap from the rootlets of grasses and trees and slowly maturing. All of that preparation has been leading up to this moment when they surface in droves—up to 1.4 million cicadas per acre—to molt into their adult form, sing their deafening love song and produce the next generation before dying just a few weeks later. Just for the cycle to repeat itself in 17 years! Science still isn't sure how cicadas tell time and pop to the surface after being underground for 17 years. 


Listen to their sound! It is actually eerie. Peter describes it like the phasers used in Star Trek!



This is a typical sighting on my Sunny walks! Some dogs like eating cicadas. Fortunately this is one thing Sunny isn't interested in eating! 

What you see here are hundreds of dead cicadas. Basically their cycle entails coming up from the ground, maturing in a couple of days, mating, and then within a month die. These are the remains. 
Trees are covered with these beady eyed creatures!
A close up! Mattie was only two when this first happened. It was a first for ALL of US! If Mattie were alive now, there is no telling what his reaction would be to this! 



Want to learn more?

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/brood-x-cicadas-are-emerging-at-last1/

May 24, 2021

Monday, May 24, 2021

Monday, May 24, 2021

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2009. Mattie's art therapists made this Super Mattie cape for him, and presented it at the Mattie March. This literally was a photo of Mattie (which I took of him while he was visiting the circus, and he had his big circus glasses on) superimposed on a superhero body. Mattie thought this cape was a riot. Naturally I kept it.


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

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 33,140,850
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 590,515


Tonight's photos showcase the orange spirit at our virtual walk! Here are my parents strolling around their neighborhood in California on Walk Day!
Everyone is in on it here! Including Lucky the dog!
Mattie's preschool teacher's grandchildren. Margaret would be very proud to know that her daughter and grandchildren continue to support the Foundation. 
My friend in cancer, Ilona. Ilona and I met in 2013, after her only child, Chris, died from cancer. The Chris Lantos Foundation is a sponsor each year of the Mattie Miracle Walk.
This is Ilona's husband, Attila! Attila walked 11,943 steps for Mattie Miracle on May 16th.
This is Tricia (Mattie's favorite HEM/ONC nurse) and her family! Including the pups! They all walk for Mattie Miracle, and haven't missed a Walk in 12 years. 
Orange in Alexandria, VA! Abby went to preschool with Mattie. 
Our friend Alison! She took a photo with butterflies in the background. To remind us that Mattie was with us on May 16th. 
The Stuart family has been part of our Foundation Walks over all these years. 
Melissa and Maya. Two of our top walkers! Based in Ohio. Together they walked 105,470 steps for Mattie Miracle. Just so you know..... that is about 50 miles!
Katie is the child life coordinator at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. She sent us this wonderful orange photo with her whole family on May 16th. 



May 23, 2021

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2009. That day we took Mattie outside to the second floor outdoor area of the hospital. We brought Mattie out there to participate in a physical therapy session. Next to Mattie was Anna, Mattie's physical therapist. I took this photo because I think it captured the negotiations between Mattie and Anna quite well. Anna may have wanted Mattie to do something, but he always had a different idea up his sleeve. Anna is a great PT, because she was able to absorb what Mattie was saying or feeling, and adapt her exercises to what he presented. They were a great team together! 


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

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 33,114,388
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 589,855 


All my married life, Peter has been an early riser. Now he and the animals are up at 5 or 5:30am. This has never been my hour. Peter snapped this photo today of his coffee buddies. 
We spent some time in Oakton today, trying to become a bit more familiar with the neighborhood and what's around us. Peter will catch up quick, I on the other hand will take months if not years to get the hang of a new place. I am not a person who embraces change and given we have lived in our current location for 26 years, I am not jumping for joy to be leaving. 

After we walked Sunny in Oakton, we came home and went downstairs to the complex's storage unit so I could assess what we have down there! The complex provides free storage to residents. Which is very generous, but for someone like me, that meant I kept a lot of things over the years. Things I most likely should have donated years ago. One of the items we found was this Christmas pyramid. It is a wooden handicraft that was made by skilled artisans in the Erzgebirge mountain region of Germany. This Christmas decoration belonged to Peter's grandmother, who handed it down to Peter's mom, who handed it down to us (years ago!). I remember seeing this centerpiece in motion at my in-law's home like it were yesterday. I always admired it. But frankly I forgot Peter's mom gave it to me. When I saw it today, it made me sad. Well maybe sad and mad. Mostly because I feel like I suffer from arrested development. In my mind, I expected to have many family gatherings, with Mattie, and using this centerpiece. IT NEVER HAPPENED, and NOW IT NEVER WILL. Sad and mad! 


In storage, I also had wrapped up photographs and frames. This photo was taken in 1998. That Christmas, all of Peter's family came to California and stayed with my parents. Peter's grandmother talked about this adventure for years! If you look closely, my mom was holding Allie, our family cat. 
Our wedding and bridal party in 1995!
I frankly forgot about this photo and engraved frame until I saw it today. It was taken in 2000. Back then I was the graduate assistant for the counseling department at the university. One of my assignments was to plan a reunion party for all alums and students at a national professional conference held in Washington, DC. It was an enormous undertaking, but I did it, basically on my own. It was from my experiences as a graduate student that I really learned the art of reaching out to people and planning big events. A skill I have needed for Mattie Miracle. 

Our wedding day with my parents. 
Formal night on one of the cruises we took together. Another sad reality, as we will not be going on anymore cruises as a family again. 
Another formal night on a cruise ship. I am so glad we captured these moments when we did.