Miracles do happen, and the life story of Abby Furco is no better example of that.
This sweet 10-year-old girl has had a rough start early in life. At the age of just four, she was diagnosed with leukemia and doctors only gave her 20% chance of survival. The news crushed her parents’ world, but they knew their girl was a warrior and they never gave up fighting for her precious life.
“We were devastated,” Abby’s mom, Patty Furco, said. “We were basically told that she was going to die, there was very little hope.”
Abby went through so much. She had undergone a bone marrow transplant, a number of chemotherapy treatments, radiation and many trial drugs.
“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.”
After extensive treatments, Abby started feeling better. She even rode a bike, played soccer, and went to school regularly. But around a year later, the cancer returned. This time, it was even more aggressive than the first time. All of a sudden, Abby lost the ability to walk.
“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.”
The girl was forced to undergo another bone marrow transplant, but this time, her body didn’t accept the donated marrow and she was diagnosed with Graft versus host disease (GvHD), a condition that might occur after an allogeneic transplant. In GvHD, the donated bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells view the recipient’s body as foreign and attack it. This led to kidney failure and Abby was put on dialysis.
Her parents were told that there was nothing that could be done and that the time had come for their girl to be let go.
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.”
Abby was placed in hospice and her heartbroken mom and dad were even told to consider planning her funeral.
However, just as everyone gathered around her to say that final goodbye, Abby opened her eyes and said something that left everyone speechless.
“She told us, ‘I have so much living to do,’” Patty recalled.
“We couldn’t believe it,” she added, “in a matter of days, weeks, months she started walking and getting stronger. It’s an absolute miracle.”
Abby’s sudden recovery couldn’t be medically explained. It left doctors puzzled. They didn’t have answers, and Abby’s parents didn’t look for any, all they cared for was that their girl didn’t die.
“We helped her get home on hospice. But when we started backing off, taking away treatments so she wasn’t on so many meds, she started getting better all on her own,” Abby’s doctor, pediatric hematologist and oncologist Jacob Wessler, said.
“She’s had ups and downs, but if she continues on this path, she is going to make us all look like fools!” he added. “She’s defied every single odd.”
No one really knows what the future will bring, but for now, Abby is in good health and thriving. She is in remission and receives IV steroids twice a day.
“We watched her die and come back to life,” Patty said. “Now we’re looking to the future.”