- CNN reporter Andrew Kaczynski lost his daughter, Francesca “Beans” Kaczynski, to a rare brain cancer in December 2020; she was just 9 months old.
- In a new interview, Kaczynski shares his grief, his experiences as a bereaved parent, the costs of childhood cancer treatment, and more.
- Brain cancer is typically treated with surgery, radiation or chemotherapy.
Related: #TeamBeans: CNN Anchors Including Anderson Cooper, Dana Bash and Chris Cuomo Raise Money for Kids with Cancer after the Passing of CNN Reporter’s Daughter, Francesca “Beans” Kaczynski, from Brain CancerRead More
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In a new interview published to Charlie Warzel’s Substack, Warzel speaks with Kaczynski about the loss and his experiences. He discusses the high cost of childhood cancer treatment; due to a GoFundMe page created by his colleague, Kaczynski and his family received $100,000 in financial support from generous donors around the globe. “I was so grateful,” he says of the outpouring of financial support.
Francesca may be gone but I am still her dad. This Father’s Day please consider donating to our Boston Marathon team to benefit childhood cancer research. We are 14% of the way to our goal of $100,000. https://t.co/nGKGVr0jEB
— andrew kaczynski (@KFILE) June 20, 2021
He says that after his daughter was diagnosed, everything changed. “We found out Francesca had a brain tumor on September 6, 2020. That’s always going to be the worst day of my entire life. The day she died was not the worst day of my life — it was the day she was diagnosed. Everything changed for me that day.”
Kaczynski goes on to explain what led him to share his daughter’s battle so publicly. “I basically put that first tweet about Francesca out there because I didn’t know what to do. I needed help. I needed help from anyone. It was an act of desperation, I’ll be honest.”
Brain Cancer Treatment Options
For Kaczynski, learning about his daughter’s treatment path was initially very hard to digest. He says, “They’re telling you that your kid will be in hospital for months and on a feeding tube. When [the doctor] gave us the diagnosis I dropped the phone and threw up and my wife had to take over the call.”
Brain cancer is typically treated with surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. Newer treatments, like Optune, are also on the horizon, and offer hope to some patients fighting brain cancer.
Dr. Suriya Jeyapalan, a neuro-oncologist at Tufts Medical Center, tells SurvivorNet in a previous interview some of the options available for treating brain cancer with Optune. “I just want to emphasize to patients,” she says, “that when I first started doing this in 1999, there were maybe less than 5% of patients with this disease that were alive after two years.”
“Now we’re getting out to maybe a third of patients alive at five years,” she says. “This is not your father’s brain tumor, and I want to sort of give a message of hope to patients. In the future, we’ll add to these treatments and make it even better.”
Coping with the Loss of a Child to Cancer
Losing a child – no matter the cause, be it cancer, or another reason – is a tragic, devastating event. Support can be found via therapy, close friends and family, and formal support groups for bereaved parents.
Losing such a close loved one, like a child or even a parent, feels overwhelming. Therapy was how Camila Legaspi, who lost her mom to breast cancer, was able to survive that time. In an earlier interview, she says, “Therapy saved my life. I was dealing with some really intense anxiety and depression at that point.”
“It just changed my life, because I was so drained by all the negativity that was going on,” says Legaspi. “Going to a therapist helped me realize that there was still so much out there for me, that I still had my family, that I still had my siblings.”
Legaspi details how working with a therapist allowed her to keep her perspective, but also address the reality at hand. “And the reality is, is when you lose someone, it’s really, really, really hard. And it’s totally OK to talk to someone. And I’m so happy that I talked to my therapist. Keep your chin up, and it’s going to be OK.”