TRIBUTES have poured in for a young Polish woman who passed away this Monday, after she captured the heart of the nation during her battle to beat cancer.
Marta Salacka, 27, lived in Castleconnell and in the city centre for nine years with her husband Mariusz and son Nikodem, aged four, until she received the diagnosis last year that she had only months to live due to a battle with two forms of leukemia.
Within a number of days, her friends mobilised to raise €20,000 to allow her to fly home to Poland on a special medical flight, as she wished to die in her native country.
After the initial appeal in the Limerick Leader, thousands of people donated over €40,000 to help grant her final wish.
This Monday night, members of Limerick’s strong Polish community gathered in St Michael’s church, Denmark Street, to pray for her and her family, and to pay tribute to their friend, as mass was presided over by Fr Andrzej Sroka.
Fr Sroka, who said numerous masses for Marta during her illness, said he was “very sorry” to hear of her death, and said she was always very devoted to her Catholic faith.
Pat O’Sullivan of the Polish Consulate in Limerick said it was a “sad day” for the Polish community in the city, and that this loss would be greatly felt. “The efforts of people to help Marta were very impressive, and now we can only offer our deepest sympathies to her family,” he said.
The young woman, who hails from Gorzow Wielkopolski, near the German border, died in a hospital in Germany where she had been receiving treatment since she left Ireland in November last.
After people from across the country - and the world - raised €40,000 to help ease her pain in her final days, many of the same people left messages of support on her blog in the hours after her death.
“Rest in peace, our princess, you will always live in our hearts,” wrote one person.
In the past month, doctors found that she had developed more cancer cells in her spine and also found a blockage in her aorta.
Her friends said she was due to undergo another round of chemotherapy. As her condition deteriorated in recent weeks, she was said to have lost movement in the right side of her body, where she originally suffered the first symptoms of the disease, and contracted a flu.
In a recent post on her blog Biala Krew, translated as White Blood, in recognition of her illness, she vowed that if she survived all the funds raised would not go to waste. “I would like to make a promise that if I get miraculously cured and manage to fight the illness my priority will be to establish an organisation that would help the ill. This is my dream and thinking about it makes me smile.”
She is survived by her parents, brother Marcin, husband Mariusz and son Nikodem.
Funeral arrangements have not yet sbeen finalised.