For most of 10-year-old Abby Furco’s life, she has only known one thing: cancer.
The sweet 5th grader was diagnosed with leukemia in 2011 when she was only 4 years old. At the time, doctors only gave her a 20 percent chance of survival.
“We were devastated,” Abby’s mom, Patty Furco, said. “We were basically told that she was going to die, there was very little hope.”
For the next six years, the family did everything they could to help Abby and give her the best life they could. She underwent a bone marrow transplant, intense chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and a trial drug.
“We kept her surrounded by love because we knew at any moment we could lose her,” Patty said. “There were moments we didn’t know if she’d pull through, she has so many infections that could have ended her life. All we could do was watch her fight and try to get better.”
In October 2013 came a ray of hope. Abby had finished her treatments and for one “beautiful” year was able to be a normal kid again. She attended school, went to soccer practice, and joined the Girl Scouts.
- Then, the following September, the cancer returned, and this time it was worse than ever.
“As hard as that first diagnosis was, this one tested every ounce of our being,” Patty recalled. “She became completely immobile, any movement hurt her and she hardly spoke.”
She received another bone marrow transplant in February 2015, but just 15 days later she was diagnosed with Graft-versus-host disease, a condition where the donated marrow begins to attack the body.
The next month her kidneys began to fail. She was put into intensive care and doctors told her parents that if they took her off dialysis she would only survive 48 hours.
It was time to say goodbye.
“Doctors told us it was time to let her go, she was only awake for like an hour each day,” Patty said. “We began preparing our other daughters for her death.”