Matthew Joseph Brown was born on April 4th, 2002. Always an alert child, Mattie from the beginning was observant of everything and anything. In July 2008, Mattie attended a tennis camp, at the end of which he complained of pain in his right arm. After he was withdrawn from the camp, Mattie continued to complain of arm pain a few days later. A quick trip to the pediatrician and an x-ray revealed every parent's worst nightmare: Mattie had a tumor, Mattie had cancer.
It was at that point that the world began to spin. Discussions about school, classes, soccer practices and playdates were instantaneously replaced with talk of chemotherapy, limb salvaging surgeries, IVs and anti-emetics.
Life went from being measured by the highlights in a child's life, to speculation about "how long he might live" and "his quality of life." Our world became the hospital and clinic, and our former life, the one of a healthy child and all the expectations that come with it, was gone in an instant... not even a chance to say goodbye.
Mattie endured 14 months of treatment including chemotherapy starting in August of 2008, two limb-salvaging surgeries affecting three of this four limbs, a sternotomy to removes tumors from his lungs, and was left wheelchair bound while he learned how to live with and use his prostheses.
In August of 2009, after a series of scans and only two months off chemotherapy, we learned that Mattie's cancer had spread throughout his body.
At that point, our conversations turned to palliative care and end of life care, and any discussions of thoughts of a cure simply disappeared.
On September 8th, 2009, Mattie passed away in the arms of his mother and father at Georgetown University Hospital, his home away from home. Mattie died in the very same room that he received his first chemotherapy treatment 13 months prior.
Mattie's mom chronicled the day to day experiences of Mattie's life from diagnosis to death in a daily blog that she still maintains. We recommend you explore the blog as it is a real life, vivid and descriptive description of the journey that Mattie, his mom, dad, family and his community traveled as Mattie fought and ultimately lost in his battle against cancer.
The blog may be found by clicking: MattieBear.blogspot.com
Mattie's parents, Peter Brown and Vicki Sardi-Brown were determined to help other children and their families avoid the same pain endured during treatment, and therefore founded the Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation, a 501(c) (3) Public Charity.
To know Mattie was to love him. We will never forget our little boy, so full of life, so full of courage and love. It is our hope that in Mattie's death more good will come, more support will be provided and more answers found so that other children and their families are spared this horrible experience of pediatric cancer.