She only had 48 hours to live, so she whispered a few but heartbreaking words. Goodbyes are hard. We simply don’t want to say goodbye to the people we love. And saying goodbye when a friend, family, a member or loved one approaches end of life can feel like an impossible task. There are ways to prepare for saying goodbye, and if you practice now in your own way, it can help soften the memory of loss later.
Saying goodbye to a young child as they head to school for the day can be a tough moment for parents, especially in the very beginning of the school year when everyone is still adjusting to the change in schedule. It’s not unusual for moms and dads to get emotional about being away from their kids all day or their little ones growing up during dropoff. Make grief a shared family experience. Include children in discussion about Memorial plans. Spend as much time as possible with your children, talking about their siblings or playing together.
Make sure children understand that they are not responsible for a sibling’s death and help them let go of regrets and guilt. Parents are the focus of attention when a child dies, and the grief of siblings is sometimes overlooked. The death of a sibling is a tremendous loss for a child. They lose a family member, a confidant and a lifelong friend. It’s often said that when we make plans, God laughs.
Sometimes we make plans without considering God at all. But other times we think our plans make sense and what we think God wants to do with our lives. But if you haven’t consulted with God about our plans, chances are he has something bigger and better in mind for us. Doctors had given up on all treatments for this young girl with leukemia.
Well, heartbroken parents had started preparing for her funeral last May, but after she was taken off medical treatment and sent home to spend her last days with her family, to everyone’s shock, she suddenly began recovering and is now getting better by herself.
We watched her die and come back to life, the ten year old cancer fighter’s mom told People. Her devastated parents were told that their beloved daughter had about a 20% chance of surviving. It’s a message that no parent wants to hear. And for Abby’s parents, it was almost the same as hearing that their four yearold had been given a death sentence. Abby Ferko was diagnosed with leukemia in 2011 at the age of four.
Doctors told her parents, Patty and Joe, that Abby had only a 20% chance of survival from this rare and severe form of leukemia. Her parents were devastated to learn that their daughter had so little hope for survival. Each of your children changes your life. They show you new ways to love, new things to find joy in, and new ways to look at the world. A part of each child’s legacy is that the changes he or she brings to your family continue after death.
The memories of joyful moments you spent with your child and the love you shared will live on and always be part of you. For the next six years, Abby had to fight the illnesses and endure the grueling treatments while all her family could do was comfort her and stay by her side. Almost a year ago, Patty Ferko was told she was going to lose her daughter. Her second child, Abby, was diagnosed with Philadelphia chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia at the age of four. Today, the ten year old, based in Virginia Beach, has made a miracle recovery.
Even doctors can’t explain. Sometimes we can’t grasp what’s happened and what continues to happen, the 41 year old mum of three tells Global News. We had prepared for Abby to die. Abby’s long journey in the last few years, Abby went through several hospital visits, intense chemotherapy sessions and radiation treatments, Ferko says. But in 2015, things took a turn.
Her family was told by doctors that their little girl would die. I still have flashbacks to sitting at my dining room table with the head Hospice nurse, choosing a funeral home. My husband Joe, and I talked about where we wanted her remains. I clearly remember thinking about specific songs I wanted played during her Memorial service, Fergo says. Living in a tight knit military community, Fergo says her friends gathered together and give support.
Last year, she remembers driving Abbey to a Girl Scout event in another part of town and passing by the funeral home she’d picked out for her daughter. My heart sunk, and I called Joe crying, she says. It just caught me off guard. Here I am in the car with my thriving Abbey, and we’re driving by the funeral home I picked six months earlier. Her recovery can’t be explained.
Abby’s doctor, pediatric hematologist and oncologist, Jacob Westler told People magazine. There’s no real explanation of Abby’s recovery. Wesler was the first person to diagnose Abby and has been working with the Ferko family for six years, although, he adds, there have been ups and downs throughout the journey and continues to be. Last June, he remembers bringing Abby home to feel more comfortable. At this point, he had believed she wouldn’t survive.
He reduced the amount of medication and check ins as her family prepared for the worst. But she sat there and just started getting better, he said. It was really interesting and fascinating. At first, Wesler told the family there was no absolute timeline of when her organs would fail. But weeks and soon, months went by and Abby was feeling better.
Almost a year later, she’s the best she’s ever been. I don’t think we’ll ever know what happened, but it’s a good news and bad news situation, he says. It’s great that it’s happened, but it’s a little maddening. We don’t know why, but for Abby, it doesn’t matter why. What matters is she’s better.
The heartache living with a sick child. Parenting coach Julie Romanowski of Vancouver says for any family or parent who’s going through a similar situation with a sick child, the most important thing to do is to be aware of your situation. It sounds obvious, but when people are in crisis mode, we think life is normal and we need to keep going, she tells Global News. Get a good support network and let them know you’re in crisis. Pretending nothing’s going on adds more stress.
If you have other children, it can get difficult to talk about what their sibling is going through, especially the topic of death. Romanovsky says siblings also need a support network, and parents need to be honest with them. If you pretend nothing’s happening, that’s what makes the situation dangerous. We have to get real and accept our current situations. Younger children will look at their parents on how to deal with the crisis and mimic it.
Her recovery is also inspiring others, Virgo says. In 2012, the family has been very active in raising awareness for childhood cancer. They raise money for cancer research and put time into learning about Abby’s medication. Abby is also an ambassador at the St. Baldricks foundation, a private fund of childhood cancer research grants.
Since 2012, our fundraising campaign has raised $133,226. But Fergus says hearing from other families with similar situations has been the most heartening. Some people tell her Abbey has inspired them to get out of bed or keep fighting their own disease. That’s a gift that could only come out of this dark journey that’s consumed our lives for many years, she says. It’s giving people hope and letting them continue dreaming about the future.
Abby is looking forward to the summer today. Like many kids, Abby is looking forward to her grade five graduation. She’s once again in remission and is receiving steroids twice a day. Her mom says she loves playing Minecraft, hanging out with her friends and plans on being a chef when she grows up. This is amazing, as last year, around this time, she was barely walking, then wheelchair bound.
Through very hard work, she’s now able to walk on her own, currently working on long distance stamina, she says. Fergo says her daughter is also looking forward to summer camp, a place where she meets other cancer patients and survivors. Our hope for Abby is that she gets to live a full life, full of happiness. We take each day as it comes, so we hope that each day continues down the path of good health and growth in every way possible. After several years of intense treatment, the cancer came back and she underwent a life saving bone marrow transplant.
Since then, she’s had to deal with other serious health problems, including heart failure. We acknowledge this day in a happy way, said Abby’s mom, Patty Ferko, as the two sat together. Even though most people think cancer is sad and dark. But we’ve lived with it for ten years, right? And it’s a Journey on this ten Year Cancer versary, as Patty Ferko calls it, she arranged a special surprise.
More than 100 people who have been in Abby’s life over the years sent video messages of Love and support. Messages came from friends, family, doctors and nurses. I had no idea that the video was made until this morning, Abbey told News Three. And so far it’s been amazing to see I’ve only seen a handful of messages and I’ve already been moved multiple times, Abby said as tears rolled down her cheeks. Abby has spent much of her school years in and out of treatment, partly in school and partly homebound, she said.
The virtual school model has improved even years later. When we’re back in person full time again for kids who do Homebound, they’ll be using a format like this that we’re Currently using because it’s so smooth, the 14 year old explained.
To celebrate her ten year cancer, Abby got to make the menu for the day. Mother Patty joked that Abby had chocolate donut holes for breakfast and not to Tell her doctors who monitor her insulin. Patty said it’s an honor to have their Journey Be a source of Strength for Those Currently Battling Illness.