Baby Gianna being kissed by Pope Francis in Philadelphia. (Courtesy of Kristen Masciantonio)
Baby Gianna being kissed by Pope Francis in Philadelphia. (Courtesy of Kristen Masciantonio)

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I believe in miracles. And I think miracles come from God. Like when we pray for a miracle and God gives us it. Sometimes, it’s small things like, “I’m failing a class, and I need a miracle” and sometimes it’s bigger things like the story of 1-year-old Gianna Grace Masciantonio.

When Gianna was born, she failed her hearing test. At two weeks old, a comprehensive hearing test found her ears worked fine, but something was blocking the waves at the stem of her brain. At one month old, her parents took her for an MRI to find horrifying and traumatizing news: their newborn baby girl had an inoperable brain tumor that took wrapped around her brainstem and filled the entire pons area of her brain. Doctors told her parents she had weeks to months to live and would never live to see her first birthday.

She suffers from a rare disease called histiocytosis. In Gianna’s case, her body attacked her central nervous system. She received many months of chemotherapy, but the tumor wasn’t responding much to the treatments. Gianna was deaf, could not move the left side of her body, only turn her head one way, had sixth and seven nerve palsey (couldn’t move her right eye outward or move her face), and had a paralyzed right vocal chord.

On September 26, 2015, 9 days after Gianna’s first birthday, Pope Francis visited Philadelphia. The Masciantonio’s were in the crowd when he paraded through the city. Gianna somehow managed to get a kiss from the Pope on her head in the spot where her tumor was located. Her story was made known by the news all over the world and there was even more prayer!

Here is where the true miracle happens:

Gianna gets an MRI every two months. The MRI after Pope Francis’ kiss showed that her tumor had shrunk massively and was almost undetected in some of the cuts. Yes, Gianna has had many many many months of chemotherapy. It was not changing with all the treatment, but after Pope Francis’ kiss, her tumor ironically disappeared. Gianna has had 8 months of chemo since the scan when the tumor shrunk, and unfortunately there has been no change in the remaining tumor or cysts.

Gianna’s parents don’t believe the kiss healed their daughter. To them, the kiss itself was a miracle. It gave them faith and strength to keep fighting for their daughter. I believe that prayer is what started her healing process at birth which allowed this precious baby to survive a massive brainstem tumor and that the kiss from Pope Francis was the finishing touch.

Gianna will be starting her 15th month of chemo in two weeks. If her August scan continues to show no change, treatment will stop. She still has tumor and a cyst left in this delicate area of her brain.

So to recap: Gianna was an infant that couldn’t hear, turn her head, or eat. And she has spent half of her life in the hospital. But after a kiss from a Pope on her head directly where her tumor was located, the tumor shrunk massively. She has started to talk and even walk a little bit! She has endured surgeries and chemotherapy her whole life. But more importantly, she is fighter and continues to overcome every day.

Coincidence or miracle?


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19. Singer/Songwriter. Amplifier. Penn State Nittany Lion. John 16:33. Take Heart.

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