Filip Kwasny was very poorly, and he knew he wouldn’t survive his illness. So, the seven-year-old made a last poignant request of his father. And Dad did all he could to make his dying son’s heartbreaking dream come true.
The Kwasny family’s roots traced all the way to a village in southern Poland called Wadowice. It was there that Filip’s mother, Agnieszka, married his father, Piotr, in 2009. Although that was a moment of happiness for the pair, their story would end in tragedy in the very same location.
As Piotr described to the Daily Mail, Agnieszka had an unexplained growth on her neck. But the couple had no idea the lump was due to sarcoma, a cancer that attacks the body’s connective tissue.
Eventually, though, they learned just how dire Agnieszka’s situation was. “She collapsed in the street one day and was taken to the hospital,” Piotr recalled. “They did an emergency operation to remove it, which lasted six hours.”
Sadly, the surgery didn’t prevent the cancer from spreading “throughout her body,” her husband said. Agnieszka’s weight plummeted to a mere 42 pounds just before she succumbed to the deadly disease. She died on November 12, 2011, when she was just 33 years old.
Her death left Piotr to care for their young son, Filip. But tragically, within a year of his mother’s death, the two-year-old boy received a devastating diagnosis of his own. At first, though, all Piotr could see was that his son had a rash.
Doctors in Poland prescribed the toddler a cream to take care of the rash. Shortly thereafter, the father-son duo moved from their home country to the United Kingdom. Somehow, Filip’s rash came with them to their new residence.
“When we came to the UK, the rash did not improve, so I took him to the doctor’s here,” Piotr told the Daily Mail. “After many subsequent visits, they finally did lots of tests and discovered that he had neurofibromatosis type 1 in 2013.”
The rare disease, also known as Von Recklinghausen’s, causes benign tumors to form on the nerves. As for Filip’s rash, neurofibromatosis 1 was also to blame – skin pigmentations and freckles tend to appear along with the noncancerous growths.
At first, it seemed as though Filip’s health was in check post-diagnosis. But in September of 2016, he began exhibiting new symptoms – nosebleeds and leg pain – that led his father to believe all was not well, despite what the boy’s doctors said.
“I took him to the doctor here and they said there’s nothing wrong with him and that perhaps he is tired,” Piotr said. “I insisted that they need to do some more tests, because he was already diagnosed with type 1, and I knew there was something wrong.”
The boy’s father went on to say, “I think all parents know when there’s something wrong with their child.” His insistence paid off, and doctors eventually diagnosed Filip. “They ordered more blood tests and discovered that he was suffering from severe anemia and juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia,” Piotr said.
The medical team sent the young boy to the hospital for chemotherapy treatment in September and November of 2016. His second round was stronger than the first, but doctors still found it to be unsuccessful in ridding his body of the disease.
By January of 2017, doctors decided to take a different approach. They gave Filip a stem cell transplant, but that, too, failed to treat his leukemia. By March of the same year, Piotr said he “lost all hope,” as doctors told him they couldn’t do anything else to treat his son.
Both father and son came to the realization that Filip would lose his battle against cancer. But the seven-year-old made a heartbreaking final request of his father before that time came. The little boy wanted to be buried with his mother in Poland, so that she could take care of him in heaven.
“I don’t know how well he remembers his mother, as he was so young when she passed away, but he has visited her grave when he was well enough to speak to her,” Piotr said. “He says that I’m his angel that is looking after him here, and that his mom will look after him when he is in heaven.”
To bury the two together, Piotr needed to raise more than $8,000. That way, he could afford to exhume Agnieszka’s coffin and lay it to rest again it with both mother and son inside. With the money, he could also pay to bring Filip back to Poland himself.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Filip’s story touched many people who heard about the young boy’s final, simple wish. A crowdfunding campaign was set up to make his burial possible, and the public raised a staggering $52,000 to ensure it happened just as the seven-year-old hoped.
On March 24, 2017, Filip lost his battle to cancer. It might only have been a small token of comfort, but at least by that time his father knew he’d have plenty of money to bring his son back to Poland. “I really appreciate all the support […] which is going to enable me to fulfill Filip’s wish,” Piotr said afterward.
Most importantly, though, Piotr promised that the end of his son’s life wouldn’t mean he would let his memory fade. “My little boy has now gone, there will forever be an emptiness beside me and in my heart; but he will never be forgotten and he will always be loved,” he said.