Sebastian Witkowski is a 3-year old boy from Cork (Ireland) fighting a malignant lymphoblastic lymphoma cancer, stage III. He is currently receiving an extensive chemotherapy treatment abroad that is estimated to last 2 years. His parents are exhausted emotionally and financially, and are no longer able to cover the costs of the treatment themselves. They urgently need your help to save their little son’s life.
Please donate today & don’t forget to share a link to this page with others – together we can save Sebastian!
IMPORTANT NOTE: This campaign was set up by Dominika Kubisa, a family friend, as the parents are currently busy caring for Sebastian and unable to focus on fundraising themselves. This campaign is authorised by Sebastian's parents (Agnieszka & Pawel Witkowski). All donations go directly to their bank account (their account details are connected to this GoFundMe account & campaign).
Sebastian’s cancer - full story (as told by his mum):
Life before cancer:
When Sebastian was born in July 2015 we were over the moon – he was a healthy baby and brought so much joy into our life! We were so happy watching him grow and learn new skills every day.
Until February 2018, Sebastian was a happy and healthy boy. Except of rare cases of seasonal cold and some viral infections common for kids his age, we never had any reasons to be concerned about his health. Everything has changed in 2018.
At the beginning of February Sebastian started coughing a lot. It was the chesty (‘wet’) type of cough. As he did not present any other symptoms at that time, we assumed he has caught some viral infection from a child in his creche. We gave him some popular, over-the-counter medicines and hoped it would pass but it didn’t.
After a few days we decided to visit our local GP for a consultation. At this stage Sebastian’s cough began worrying us. The GP suspected pneumonia, and so we were sent to Mercy Hospital for an x-ray.
Sebastian was diagnosed with severe bronchitis and enlarged thymus gland, which we were told was normal for children his age. We were discharged from the GP with a prescription for antibiotics, steroids and cough syrup.
Unfortunately, after 10 days of treatment Sebastian’s condition did not improve at all. We returned to our GP, who found out that in the meantime our son developed a quinsy and so he required further treatment with antibiotics.
After a couple of days, the cough became even stronger and Sebastian’s face and chest started swelling. When I found a strange-looking bruise on his chest, that was the size of my fist and covered by tiny ‘spider veins’, I knew something was not right.
We rushed to the CUH (hospital) in Cork where we spent 9 hours. In the meantime, Sebastian started having some difficulties with breathing. His x-ray results were reviewed by 3 different doctors and a radiologist.
Despite a large lump visible on the x-ray we were told that Sebastian’s chest was ‘clear’ and there was nothing to worry about, as his coughing is normal (he was recovering from pneumonia) and the swelling and the bruise are most likely a result of some mechanical trauma, for example bumping into something when running or playing around the house.
The doctors said there was no need for Sebastian to be admitted to the hospital for an observation. We were discharged from the hospital and advised to give our son paracetamol for the next few days.
We were confused but returned home not knowing what else we could do. We trusted the doctors in the hospital know their job. However, deep inside we sensed something was not right.
We had our holiday in Poland (our home country) scheduled on the 13th of March but decided myself and Sebastian will go to Poland the very next day and get Sebastian checked by a trusted GP in my home town. My husband would join us on the 13th, as previously planned.
On the plane to Poland Sebastian started having serious difficulties with breathing. He laid down on the floor and refused to go up. I had to force him to seat for the plane take-off and landing. After landing in Warsav we met our sister and her husband, and then began our 450km long journey to our family home. In the meantime, Sebastian’s condition began to deteriorate and we decided to rush him to the nearest hospital.
After taking an x-ray of Sebastian’s chest doctors discovered a tumour size 9x8cm. A tomography and some additional tests revealed that Sebastian developed superior vena cava syndrome (SVCS) because of it.
I was in shock and the medical term made no sense to me, so the doctors further explained the tumour was putting a lot of pressure on Sebastian’s lungs and blocking the blood flow through one of the main heart veins. Basically, my son was in a danger of dying within the next 48 hours, if the tumour size was not reduced. After a long pause the doctor added that the lump on Sebastian’s chest contains cancer cells. In that moment my entire world shattered.
The pain, the shock and the fear of losing my only child were unbearable. I collapsed and I had to be treated with strong medications to help me digest the news. My parents and in-laws arrived to the hospital to support us. They also contacted my husband who was still in Ireland unaware of the diagnosis. I hysterically cried… I cried the whole night, I couldn’t stop even though I wanted to because I had to be strong for my little son. Tears just kept flowing…
We were admitted to Przylądek Nadziei, a Transregional Centre for Children Oncology in Wroclaw. Before we even received the final diagnosis, Sebastian was given a round of chemotherapy to save his life. The next day he was diagnosed with a malignant lymphoblastic lymphoma cancer, stage III (out of IV stages) and we began a very aggressive chemotherapy treatment. In the meantime, we learned that because we have been living and working in Ireland for more than 12 years, and we are insured in Ireland, we will need to cover the cost of all the medical treatments provided to Sebastian in Poland.
Immediately after receiving the information that we would need to avail of the private treatment in Poland, I phoned Citizen Information support line asking for help.
Shockingly, I was told it is very unlikely that we will be entitled to receive any financial support from the State . After nearly 13 years in Ireland, working very hard every day, paying taxes, insurance and all mandatory public contributions, and despite the fact we have never availed of any social welfare support, we were left on our own with a seriously ill child.
It wasn't our CHOICE to treat Sebastian in Poland (abroad) rather than in Ireland! The representative also said she was sorry to hear our son was misdiagnosed by several hospital doctors in Ireland but still there is nothing that can be done, even though we need to finish the treatment in Poland as Sebastian’s condition makes it impossible for us to return to the country.
That day, our worry about the success of the cancer treatment joined another one: the fear of financing it.
Soon, my husband joined us in Poland for a few days but the bills associated with the cancer treatment started piling up…and so he had to come back to Ireland and work to ensure we have the means to continue the treatment. He also tried to organise fundraising campaign for us, as well as to get support from HSE regarding the treatment costs. Finally, HSE agreed to cover the cost of the first 3 months of the medical expenses through EHIC . However, Sebastian will need at least 1.5-2 years of the cancer treatment.
Now we are half way through the initial chemotherapy. We are fearfully awaiting results of the recent tests that will determine, if the tumour’s size has decreased and the chemotherapy is working for Sebastian.
I am unable to return to work, as I care for my seriously ill child 24/7. My husband tried to continue working but the stress and fear of losing our son badly affected his mental health. He is severely depressed and has become unable to work too. He is going to join us in the hospital within the next few days.
Our savings would be gone soon and we are stressed beyond imagination thinking about the future costs, which we cannot even estimate just yet, of the long-term cancer therapy for Sebastian.
We beg you to help us finance our son’s treatment that we hope will save his life. As parents, we feel great pain watching our child suffering every day but we feel even worse, thinking we may not be able to provide him with the medical care he needs to survive. PLEASE HELP!
The latest update from Sebastian's parents:
We have just learned that there will be many additional hiden costs of the cancer treatment. We will need to rent a place to live close to the hospital for minimum 18 months as there will be short breaks in the treatment protocol. Many 2 -3 days "windows" between chemotheraphy stages when we can't stay in the hospital (only in Emergency situations as infections or bad side effects of the treatment).
Because Sebastian's immunity system is devastated after chemotherapy (and it will be even worse in 2 weeks as he is starting getting "araC " chemo drugs) we have to keep him away from any potential hazards of infections - even a small "runny nose" infection could be fatal.
That means we will need to pay for renting an apartment to stay in Poland & as well as for regular professional cleaning/disinfection services of the premises.
We will need to purchase special nutritional supplements, medical equipment for Sebastian's home care, disposable clothing for working with his Hickman catheter (a special silicone line leading directly in to Sebastian's heart ) and a lot of medical accessories used for testing his blood parameters every day in order to follow the chemotherapy treatment protocol.
We will also need a special device called "recuperator" to ensure dry and clean air in the house. The premises will also need to be "ozoned" every week to sanitize all surfaces ( the entire place will have to be filled with ozon gas, to ensure viruses and bacteria that are usually harmless for a healthy person but very dangerous for Sebastian are eliminated). We did not know all this when starting the fundrasing campaign here- we haven't experience a cancer treatment of a child or a family member before and did not really understand what cancer treatments involve.
We were told by the doctors that there will be many other expenses which are hard to list at the moment, so we can't even predict the exact amount we need for the next 2 years.
We also learnt that the Polish doctors didn't want to worry us when we have initially arrived to the hospital with Sebastian, but they said today that IT WAS A MIRACLE that our son survived a flight from Ireland due to the air pressure difference on the plane! ...if we only knew all this before boarding the plane!!! :( Everything would be different...
We would like to thank everyone for your kindness and involvement in fundraising. It means a lot to us and the support we are receving from the Cork people is so overwhelming we don't know how to thank you! We hope to be able to return it one day. THANK YOU SO MUCH! It gives us even more hope and strenght to fight for Sebastian every day...