FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – An 11-year-old from New Jersey struggling with cancer has one wish, and it’s not what you think.
Gracie West’s smile lights up a room and it’s her inner strength that helps her battle cancer.
“My nickname is Cookie and I have this nickname because my mom when I was little said I was going to be one tough cookie,” she told CBS2’s Christine Sloan.
The brave 11-year-old was diagnosed with Stage IV neuroblastoma a year ago, a cancer that affects the nerve cells.
When the Make-A-Wish Foundation asked her what she wanted, she knew right away.
“I wanted to meet the Pope and I wanted to go to Rome and meet the Pope because I have really strong faith and faith has helped me through this journey and it would be cool to have a blessing by him,” Gracie said.
This month, Gracie will head to the Vatican where she will meet Pope Francis. Her mother, Sharon West, who she said is her rock, will be by her side.
“Grace is amazing she’s always … just positive,” her mother said.
“My motto is ‘You have no choice but to be strong, but you can choose to be happy and positive,’” the 11-year-old said.
“Her positivity to be honest has rubbed off on me,” school counselor Courtney Colford said.
Her friends at Barkalow Middle School got her lots of supplies for her trip, all in pink, her favorite color.
“I want to live my life as long as I can and I just want to live life to the fullest and I want to do things. That’s why I want to go to Rome and I want to meet the Pope,” she said.
Gracie’s family and friends started a foundation for her and will donate a portion of the money they raise to fight cancer.
Gracie also tells CBS2 she wants to be a pediatric surgeon when she grows up.
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