Now in remission, 19-year-old and former stage-four cancer patient Peter Srsich has credited meeting Pope Benedict XVI with helping him beat his cancer, nearly two years after he was diagnosed.
Srsich, a devout Catholic and aspiring priest, requested to visit the Pope when Disney’s Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses, approached him.
“After meeting Peter, there was no doubt in my mind it was his true wish and it was going to play an important role in what he wants to do career-wise,” his gift coordinator LuAnn Griffin said.
The Italian branch of the foundation arranged the $14,000 trip paying for airfare, food and spending expenses.
On a Sunday morning in May 2012, Srsich and his family lined up to meet the Pope, waiting in line with important dignities who had brought expensive gifts. Though Srsich felt inferior, the Pope merely noted his English and placed a hand on his heart in blessing.
Srsich recalled the memory as a life-changing one, noting that he had not told the Pope that the location of the cancer was at his heart, and that blessings are normally bestowed upon the head.
While Srsich is well aware that his cancer was cured because of medical research and the skill of his doctors, he believes his visit to Rome gave him strength to fight.
“Chemo helped me fight the cancer,” Srsich said. “Make-A-Wish helped me fight the chemo.”