FREEHOLD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey girl battling a rare form of cancer is opening up about her trip of a lifetime.
As CBS2’s Christine Sloan reported, 11-year-old Gracie West recently returned from a visit to the Vatican where Pope Francis bestowed his blessings.
With a big smile on her face, Gracie showed Sloan the pictures she took with the man she calls the closest person to God.
Her brother recorded video of the meeting on his cell phone. Vatican TV also captured the special moment.
“It was a moment that was stopped in time, like it was me and him. It was magical,” Gracie said. “It was so cool to have my brother with me.”
The one-on-one with the pope was arranged by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which helps make dreams come true for cancer patients like Gracie.
She’s battling Stage 4 neuroblastoma, a cancer that affects the nerve cells. But when brave Gracie finally had an audience with the pope, she was thinking of him.
“I said happy birthday because it was his birthday and he blessed rosary beads and he blessed me and my brother,” Gracie said.
In video, you can see Gracie handing the pope a birthday card with a special, private note inside. Even though the embrace was brief and the pope didn’t speak English, as a devout Catholic, Gracie said coming that close to him gives her hope as she fights cancer.
“Everything’s going to be just fine,” she said.
CBS2 first told you about Gracie before she set out on her journey. Everyone, humbled by her strength and positive attitude despite her struggles, simply said Gracie is amazing, Sloan reported. And she took that spirit to Rome, taking pictures at famous places, showing off her goofy side.
“Everything was so beautiful there,” she said.
When asked about the note she placed inside the card for the pope, she said it is between her and the pope and that she is confident he’ll be sending back a letter.
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