By Diana Rocco
FREEHOLD, N.J., (CBS) – The Pope is inspiring a New Jersey girl in her brave fight against cancer.READ MORE: Psychologist Offers Advice On How To Talk To Kids About The Texas School Shooting
A wish to meet the pontiff was granted – and this has given her a new source of strength.
Eleven-year-old Gracie West is fresh back and still buzzing from her trip to Rome where she and her brother were able to meet Pope Francis.
“He was so welcoming and he was so nice, like you were a part of his family,” said Gracie.
Gracie was diagnosed with neuroblastoma just over a year ago. Doctors found a tumor in her bones when she was just 10. She’s now on her tenth round of chemotherapy.
“It’s scary. Like you never know what’s going to happen through any of this, but I feel like you just have to stay positive through it,” said Gracie.
“The amount of tests, the amount of blood work, and transfusions and chemo and radiation, and she still smiles through it,” said Gracie’s father Don West.READ MORE: Body Found At Broomall Auto Body Shop Owned By Missing Man George Hughes, Police Say
It was her wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation to meet the pope. Last month she and her family flew to St. Peter’s Square. They were able to get close enough to Pope Francis during his birthday mass where Gracie shook his hand and gave him a birthday card. She says the visit means so much because it’s her faith that’s helped her through it all.
“I’m a very big believer in that things happen for a reason. If I wasn’t diagnosed I wouldn’t have had that opportunity,” she said.
“It’s also been empowering to see her overcoming all of the challenges and I feel like this whole experience as a whole is just one big hurdle,” said her brother Joey West.
Gracie has now started a foundation called Cookie Crumblers to help other kids fight cancer too.
“I do feel like every kid in the hospital is the strongest human being out there,” she said.
Gracie says it’s all the support she’s received from her friends and the community that has helped her to stay so positive. She’s looking forward to the Pope’s visit in September.
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