11-year-old girl battling cancer gets wish to meet the Pope

A New Jersey girl battling neuroblastoma saw her dream come true Wednesday when she got an audience with Pope Francis.

Grace West, a fifth-grader, has undergone nine rounds of chemotherapy over the past year, NJ.com reported. She and her family traveled to Rome Monday after receiving permission from her doctor so that she could be present at the pope’s weekly assembly in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican.

With the help of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the former altar server received a kiss on the top of her head from Pope Francis. The organization, which helped fund her trip, learned about West after a group of volunteers gathered to build the little girl a tree house earlier this year.

“I am just so excited she got to meet the Holy Father,” Monsignor Sam Sirianni, the family’s pastor, told NJ.com. “Grace has been a great source of strength for many of us.”

Grace was diagnosed with neuroblastomia in November 2013, and she has been undergoing treatment at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, according to the family’s GoFundMe page.

Neuroblastoma is a type of cancer that affects the nerve cells. Stage four cancer usually means the cancer has spread to distant sites such as lymph nodes, bone, liver, skin, bone marrow or other organs, according to the American Cancer Society.

The Make-A-Wish organization posted a photo on its Facebook page of the family outside the Vatican.

Grace said that she hoped the pope’s blessing will help her fight the disease.

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