Imagine, for a moment, that your 10-year-old child is terminally ill. You do everything you can, you give them treatment, but nothing seems to work. You finally come to terms with what's happening and prepare for the future.
But then, something truly miraculous happens. They get better.
That's exactly what happened to the Furco family. Patty and Joe Furco's 10-year-old daughter Abby was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2011. She was given a 20% chance of survival.
“We were devastated,” says Patty. “We were basically told that she was was going to die, there was very little hope.”
Abby spent the next 6 years in and out of hospitals, getting bone marrow transplants, intense chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and a trial drug.
“We kept her surrounded by love because we knew at any moment we could lose her,” says Patty. “There were moments we didn’t know if she’d pull through, she has so many infections that could have ended her life.
In 2013, Abby finished her treatment and had one year cancer-free. She began playing soccer with friends and joined Girl Scouts.
Then, in 2014, the cancer came back.
“As hard as that first diagnosis was, this one tested every ounce of our being,” says Patty. “She became completely immobile, any movement hurt her and she hardly spoke.”
In Maya of 2016, Abby's kidneys started failing. She was moved to intensive care where she was put on dialysis.
“Doctors told us it was time to let her go, she was only awake for like an hour each day,” says Patty. “We began preparing our other daughters for her death.”
Abby was brought to her home under hospice care where she was to live out her last days surrounded by family and friends. Patty and Joe began making funeral arrangements and picking out caskets for their daughter.
But then a true miracle happened. Abby woke up.
Continue to the next page to see what doctors credit her recovery to.
“We couldn’t believe it, in a matter of days, weeks, months she started walking and getting stronger,” says Patty. “It’s an absolute miracle.”
Dr. Jacob Wessler, Abby's pediatric hematologist and oncologist, says there's no real explanation to her recovery except for a miracle.
“She was very, very sick and her body was shutting down slowly and her organs weren’t working correctly anymore and every intervention was just making her worse,” Dr. Wessler said. “We told Patty and Joe there was nothing else we could do, the only foreseeable outcome was that Abby was going to 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.”
Wessler credits Abby's own will to live for her miraculous recovery.
“She told us, ‘I have so much living to do,’ ” Patty says. “We’ve stopped asking why she’s made this recovery and just started looking to her future.”
Now, one year after her family thought she was gone, Abby will be graduating from the 5th grade. She is in remission and has returned to her usual bubbly self.
“She just wants to be a normal kid and hang out with friends and go to school — her zest for life is just amazing,” says Patty. “We watched her die and come back to life."