Chelsie Darling Photography(NORFOLK, Va.) — Abby Furco, a 10-year-old girl first diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia six years ago, was determined to walk at her camp counselor’s October wedding.
After being given only 48 hours to live last summer, Abby made the long walk months later, successfully throwing rose petals as she continued down the aisle inside the Norfolk Botanical Garden in Virginia.
Abby and her camp counselor, Sarah Swaim Rostock, met at Camp Fantastic, a camp run by the Special Love organization for kids who are fighting cancer, back in 2013.
Rostock, 27, who was also diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia in 2003, bonded with Abby over several summers. And when she heard Abby had relapsed earlier this year, she reached out to the girl’s mother to offer any support as Rostock had also relapsed before seven years ago.
“I immediately found her mom on Facebook and reached out to her and said, ‘I know the path that you’re about to walk down and I want to be there for Abby in any way that I can,'” Rostock recalled.
Afterward, Rostock was there for Abby, visiting her in the hospital and being a point of reference through every test and treatment, including a possible bone marrow transplant.
“Transplant is really hard and it comes with a lot of ups and downs and I just wanted to make sure she knew that I would always give her my best answer,” Rostock said.
Still, Abby’s mother received word from doctors in June that she was nearing the end of her life. In fact, doctors gave Abby just 48 hours to live.
The news shook Rostock to her core but she hoped an invitation to participate in her wedding would give Abby something to fight for.
“When you’re [fighting] cancer … you live day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute,” Rostock said, “but sometimes looking towards the future can help propel you forward.”
After asking Abby’s mother for permission, Rostock asked Abby to be her flower girl at her Oct. 29 wedding to her now-husband, Patrick. The two, who also met at Camp Fantastic, dated for seven years before tying the knot.
“I’m so glad that she was there,” Rostock said of Abby.
In fact, Abby helped calm down the bride before walking down the aisle. Rostock remembers Abby telling her amid a slight excited freakout, “Sarah get it together! You need to calm down!”
To which Rostock replied, “Thank you for my reality check, Abby.”
Today, Abby isn’t 100 percent better, Rostock said, but she’s “stronger and just amazing.”
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