Thousands of Poles lined up to say their final goodbyes to Agata Mroz, a young volleyball star who died on June 4 after postponing a bone marrow transplant in order to allow her daughter to be born.
At the age of 17, Agata was diagnosed with leukemia. She battled the disease and ended up becoming one of the top athletes in Poland, winning the European Volleyball Championship twice with her country’s team. She joined the professional volleyball team CAV in Murcia, Spain, where she also led the team to title wins.
Her struggle against leukemia forced her to take a sabbatical year during which she received many blood transfusions. Thousands of Poles donated blood for her cause. On June 9, 2007, she married Jacek Olszewski. She was too weak to travel away for a honeymoon but soon afterwards she became pregnant. A few weeks later, doctors discovered her cancer had progressed. She decided to postpone a bone marrow transplant until after the baby’s birth, set for April 4.
Agata told the Polish daily Dziennik that she never regretted her pregnancy. “The news I was going to be a mother made me feel fortunate. I was so happy because I would know what it was like to be a mother and I would give my husband something good from myself,” she said.
Agata underwent the transplant after the birth but she contracted a deadly infection. Her funeral Mass was celebrated in the same church that she was married in one year earlier to the day. She was remembered for her heroism and her decision to confront her illness.
Bishop Marian Florczyk of Kielce presided at the Mass and said Agata gave Poland a witness of “love, motherhood, the desire to give life and the heroic love for an unborn child.”