A dying mother asked her best friend to take custody of her six children before she lost her two-year battle to cancer.
Single mother Beth Laitkep made the tragic request from her hospital bed in Virginia after the cancer spread from her breasts to her bones, brain and spine.
The appeal was made to 39-year-old Stephanie Culley who said Laitkep asked her before they both dissolved into tears, the Washington Post reports.
“Will you take my babies? Will you do this for me?” Culley said Laitkep asked her.
“I told her yes, I would do it in a heartbeat,” Culley said.
Laitkep discovered she had breast cancer in 2014 when she was pregnant with her youngest son Ace.
Culley said Ace had to be delivered early via an emergency C-section so that Laitkep could begin aggressive chemotherapy treatments.
The treatments were said to have been working but the cancer returned after a year of positive news.
The two were said to have been friends since high school but it was Laitkep's deterioration that truly brought the two together.
Culley began taking Laitkep to her appointments and helping her around the house after the cancer returned in 2015.
“I felt this pull to reconnect with her,” Culley told the paper, “this pull that I could not stop.”
Culley said the father of the eldest children didn't have an active role in the children's lives and the father of the younger ones left during Laitkep's cancer battle.
The mother was said to have wanted her children to be kept together and cared for in the same way she would have done so.
Culley relayed how Leitkep invited her children into the hospital to ask who they wanted to take care of them if they didn't get "a miracle for mommy."
The children were said to have all pointed to Culley.
Leitkep died at 39 on May 19 and the children were taken into the Culley home.
The children currently remain with Culley and her husband but the fate of their long term custodians rests in an upcoming custody battle.
“We all decided that was what we needed to do — take all of them and keep them all together as our family," Culley said.
A crowdfunding campaign has been set up using GoFundMe in order to raise money for the children.
The Culley family is currently feeding a household of 11 as Leitkep's six joins the Culley's own three children.
Watch to see how you can perform your own breast checks at home.