11-year-old Gracie West saw her wish granted on Wednesday when she came face to face with Pope Francis.
West, who hails from New Jersey, has been battling neuroblastomia since November 2013. Since then, she has undergone nine rounds of chemotherapy over the space of just 12 months.
In co-ordination with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, West, who also used to be a former altar server, traveled to Rome on Monday alongside her family. She was able to make the trip after doctors confirmed that she was healthy enough to travel.
According to Fox News, on Wednesday West was present at the pope’s weekly assembly, which is held in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. But that wasn’t all. The Make-A-Wish Foundation also collaborated with the Vatican so that West was able to come face to face with Pope Francis, who even gave her a kiss on top of her head.
Make-A-Wish New Jersey posted a picture of Gracie West outside the vatican to their Facebook page.
“It’s amazing because he’s like the closest thing to God, and he gave me and Joe a blessing. It’s just like crazy.”
West, who admitted that before seeing the Pope she was both excited and nervous, also added that she believes this interaction will now aid her in her attempt to fighter her disease.
“It’s just going to make my faith stronger. It’s going to help me more. I feel like it’s going to help me through stuff more.”
Meanwhile, Gracie’s battle against overwhelming adversity hasn’t affected her sunny outlook on life in the slightest. In fact, Gracie West remains remarkably upbeat for someone who has been burdened with such tragedy in her short life.
“My motto is, you have no choice but to be strong, but you can choose to be happy and positive. That’s helped me through a ton of stuff. I have to stay through this. I have to keep going. And then other people won’t think, ‘Oh, I don’t feel good,’ like, you can either be happy or sad.”
Sharon West, Gracie’s mother, echoed her daughter’s thoughts by declaring, “Nobody ever said it was going to be fair. You could always ask ask why us? Why this? But at the same time, you can say why not you? Getting angry, what is that really going to do? We have to really focus on the positive and the next step and different ways that we can do things to make a difference.”
Neuroblastoma is a cancer that affects the nerve cells. The American Cancer Society explains that the stage four cancer can spread to the bone, liver, skin, and bone barrow as well as other organs.