Abby Furco, a 10-year-old girl with a rare form of leukemia who was diagnosed six years ago, was determined to walk in her camp counselor’s wedding in October.
Abby made the long trek months after being given only 48 hours to live last summer, successfully flinging rose petals as she walked down the aisle within the Norfolk Botanical Garden in Virginia.
Sarah Swaim Rostock, Abby’s camp counselor, and Abby met at Camp Fantastic, a camp organized by the Special Love group for children with cancer, in 2013.
Rostock, 27, was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia in 2003 and spent four summers with Abby. When she learned that Abby had relapsed early this year, she reached out to the girl’s mother to provide any help she could, as Rostock had relapsed seven years prior.
“I found her mother on Facebook right afterward and went out to her, saying, ‘I know the path you’re about to walk down, and I want to be there for Abby in any way I can,’” Rostock recounted.
Following that, Rostock was there for Abby, visiting her in the hospital and acting as a point of contact for her during all of her tests and treatments, including a probable bone marrow transplant.
“Transplant is a difficult procedure with many ups and downs, and I just wanted to make sure she knew I would always give her my best answer,” Rostock explained.
Despite this, Abby’s mother learned in June from doctors that she was reaching the end of her life. Doctors estimated Abby had only 48 hours to live.
Rostock was shaken by the news, but she hoped that an invitation to her wedding would give Abby something to fight for.
“When you’re [fighting] cancer, you live day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute,” Rostock explained, “but looking ahead can sometimes help propel you forward.”
Rostock requested Abby to be her flower girl at her wedding to her now-husband, Patrick, on Oct. 29 after getting her mother’s permission. The couple, who met at Camp Fantastic as well, dated for seven years before marrying.
Rostock remarked of Abby, “I’m really grateful she was there.”
In fact, Abby assisted the bride in calming down before heading down the aisle. Rostock recalls Abby urging her, “In the midst of a minor thrilled freakout, “Get your act straight, Sarah! It’s time for you to relax!”
“Thank you for my reality check, Abby,” Rostock answered.
Abby isn’t 100 percent better today, according to Rostock, but she is “stronger and simply amazing.”