Our Journey With Mattie
One out of every 330 children under the
age of 20 will develop cancer.
Matthew Joseph Brown was one of them.
The average age of diagnosis
is 6 years old.
In July 2008, only 3 months after his 6th birthday,
Mattie felt some pain in his right arm
Returning home from summer tennis camp, Mattie told his mom that his right arm hurt. Assuming the discomfort was athletics-related, he was withdrawn from the camp. Yet his right arm kept hurting.
A routine trip to the pediatrician and x-rays prompted the sound of every parent's worse nightmare: "Your child has cancer." Mattie had a tumor in his right arm. Further testing revealed that Mattie had a very unqiue form of Osteosarcoma, since he had four primary bone tumors (right and left humerus, right femur, and left radius).
For the following 14 months, he underwent a series of invasive treatments, including chemotherapy, two limb-salvaging surgeries that impacted three of his four appendages, and a sternotomy to remove tumors from his lungs.
Eventually Mattie was wheelchair bound and left to learn how to use his new prostheses. In August 2009, a series of scans revealed Mattie's cancer had spread throughout his body. For the Browns, dreams of treatment and recovery quickly evaporated and were replaced by discussions of end-of-life care.
What Mattie's parents observed was his struggle to learn how to cope with the profound functional impact of his surgeries and the change in his daily life due to his treatments. Mattie could no longer walk, run, or function independently. Within months of his second surgery, he was diagnosed with clinical depression, anxiety, and medical posttraumatic stress disorder. Mattie's parents learned firsthand the need for psychosocial support and services during their son's cancer journey and the role these services must play for families in bereavement care.
On September 8, 2009, Mattie passed away in the arms of his mother and father at Georgetown University Hospital.
He died in the very same room that he had received his first chemotherapy treatment 13 months prior.
Mattie's parents, Peter Brown and Vicki Sardi-Brown were and are determined to use their experience to help other children and their families through similar struggles. So they founded the Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation, a 501(c) (3) Public Charity, which they lead in rememberance of their wonderful son.
Mattie's parents have said........
To know Mattie was to love him. We will never forget our little boy, who was so full of life and was precocious, vivacious, and courageous. Mattie's suffering and death cannot be forgotten and there must be a purpose and meaning behind Mattie's experience. We take Mattie's lessons that he taught us and apply them to advocate for awareness and support for children and their families living with childhood cancer.