On September 12, 2020, CNN Reporter Andrew Kaczynski the host of CNN’s KFILE, who is married to Wall Street Journal banking reporter Rachel Louise Ensign, announced on Twitter that their 6-month-old daughter Francesca was diagnosed with a rare and “very aggressive” brain tumor.
At the time, he tweeted “A personal note: Our six-month-old daughter Francesca was diagnosed with an extremely rare and very aggressive rhabdoid brain tumor this week. We’re looking at any and all treatments right now, including experimental. Please keep my family in your thoughts and prayers.”
“Our daughter is the strongest person I know and I am confident she will fight this as hard as she can,” Kaczynski continued. “In the meantime, I’m gonna be off work for a few weeks while we get started on treatment. I just want to thank all our friends, strangers, and medical staff for their support.”
A rhabdoid brain tumor is a rare, fast-growing tumor in which “malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the brain,” according to the National Cancer Institute. While signs and symptoms vary from patient to patient, rhabdoid tumors typically occur in kids under the age of three; however, they can occur in older children and adults.
At the time, Kaczynski posted a message which he pinned to the top of his page stating “Francesca is the strongest person and most resilient person. Less than a week ago she had two brain surgeries and she’s already at home and smiling. I’m confident she will fight this.”
Since then, his friends, CNN colleagues such as Jake Tapper, and Twitter followers rallied behind Francesca and her family as they posted updates about her heath.
Months ago, besides the aforementioned brain surgery, the little girl developed meningitis. In recent weeks, Francesca battled a fungal infection—a complication of her chemotherapy, and was put on a ventilator and life support.
On Thursday, Christmas Eve, Kaczynski tweeted, “If anyone can spare a pray for our Bean this Christmas, would just ask they include Francesca in their thoughts and hope for a Christmas miracle for our family.” Hours later, he announced her death and his wife shared an obituary they wrote for their little girl.
December 25, 2020, Christmas Day, 31-year-old Kaczynski wrote on Twitter: “We’re heartbroken to have to announce our beautiful daughter Francesca passed away last night in the arms of her mom and dad,” he tweeted. “There will always be a Bean-sized hole in our hearts for her. We’re so grateful to have known her love. Francesca, we love you.”
Kaczynski wrote a tribute to his daughter on Medium which can be viewed here:
March 11, 2020 — December 24, 2020
Francesca Kaczynski, also known as Bean, Beanie or Beans, died December 24th of complications from cancer. She was nine months old.
In her short life, Francesca was an outgoing, bold and curious baby. She had huge, deep brown eyes that followed whatever her parents were doing. She loved eating and being held close, particularly in the evenings.
A Brooklyn-based Sesame Street fan, Francesca enjoyed taking long walks around New York City and Boston, playing with her toys and balloons, attending speech therapy, and “petting” (i.e. grabbing) her cat Ryland. One of her favorite activities was to practice rolling in her crib from side to side. She loved seeing her parents, Andrew Kaczynski and Rachel Ensign, and greeting them with the world’s biggest smile and an excited kick when she woke up from a nap.
Her many smiles sent a thrill through the world. She was so generous with them, even when most of the smiles back were covered by masks and even when she faced challenges that would scare an adult, like a cancer diagnosis or being born with hearing loss.
In her first six months of life in New York, Francesca visited Prospect Park at least once a day, where she often napped while her dad carried her. She wore a big red bow on her head as a virtual fan for a Brooklyn Nets game. Her mom excitedly got to dip her feet in the
Atlantic Ocean this summer, an experience Francesca was very indifferent about.
During her time in Boston, Beans was able to experience joy even while in treatment. She met the silly geese and ducks that loiter in the parks near the hospital. She visited the Make Way for Ducklings statue in the Boston Public Garden and read the book many, many times. On one recent walk along the Charles River, she experienced her first ride on a swing — something that she was also completely indifferent to.
Everyone at Boston Children’s Hospital treated Francesca with remarkable love and kindness. Doctors and nurses would gasp with joy when they saw her smile as they entered her room. She adored music therapy and had some of her first big laughs playing with a balloon of Elmo, her favorite Sesame Street character, from the hospital gift shop during occupational therapy. On Halloween, she dressed up with her nurses in a homemade Pasta Fagioli costume.
Francesca showed her parents a kind of love they never knew before and they will never forget it.
Beanie is survived by her parents, her Bubbe, her grandparents, her aunt and uncle, and cousins.
In lieu of flowers, food, or gifts of any kind, donations can be made in honor of Francesca to the PMC Winter Cycle charity event, which donates 100 percent of every rider-raised dollar directly to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.