Peter Srsich's diagnosis was a lot to handle for an active and athletic high school student. It was July 2011 when the 17-year-old was told that he had stage-four cancer after doctors found a mass on his lung. What followed was intensive treatment, depression and monumental personal challenges.
While it wasn't easy, in the midst of his trials, Srsich was afforded a faith-sustaining opportunity he'll never forget. In an effort to make his biggest dreams come true, the Make-A-Wish Foundation sent the Colorado teenager and his family to the Vatican to meet and be blessed by then-Pope Benedict XVI. Flash-forward two years and Srsich is in remission and studying to become a Catholic priest.
The story is a fascinating one, showcasing the power of both modern medical advances and personal religious adherence. Srsich, who is currently studying at Regis University in Denver, Colo., credits his doctors with saving his life, but it is his faith in God and his encounter with the pope that he believes afforded him the will to beat the cancerous mass, the Daily Mail reports.
Peter Srsich being blessed by Pope Benedict (Photo Credit: Peter Srsich via Facebook)
After his cancer was discovered in July 2011, Srsich underwent six months of treatments, including seven rounds of chemotherapy and more than 20 days of radiation. Three months into the harrowing ordeal, the Make-A-Wish Foundation's Italian branch reached out and agreed to pay for the $14,000 trip -- a voyage the family made in May 2012.
In an interview with ABC News, the now 19-year-old recounted his interaction with Pope Benedict. After watching the pontiff speak, Srsich said that he had the opportunity to meet him. At first, he was unsettled, as he saw people giving Benedict large gifts -- something the teenager wasn't prepared to do, as he merely had a "Pray for Peter" wristband that was made to support him in his cancer battle.
"I am standing like the little drummer boy with nothing to offer," he said. "There were golden crowns and a 4-foot tall magnificent painting of Mary and I am sitting there with a 70-cent rubber wristband."
Peter Srsich with his brother and parents (Photo Credit: Facebook)
Srsich, though, proceeded to tell Benedict about his cancer and asked to be blessed.
"He looked at me and said, 'Oh, you speak English?' and put his hand on my chest right where the tumor had been, even though I had not mentioned it to him," Srsich added. "The blessing is usually on the head."
Eventually, the boy's cancer was cured and he's now in remission. While he doesn't believe the pope miraculously banished the disease from his body, Srsich said that the pontiff played a key role in helping him overcome the disease. While chemo and modern medical marvels were key, Make-A-Wish and the trip to see the pope helped give him the will to power through and beat the disease.
Peter Srsich speaking with Pope Benedict (Photo Credit: Peter Srsich via Facebook)
While he doesn't see it as a miracle, per se, Srsich believes that God -- and faith -- played a big role in his recovery.
"I credit all the years of medical research and the training of all the doctors going to school -- all that definitely cured me," he told ABC. "But God was behind it, helping me go through the treatment. Medical science is phenomenal. It would have been a death sentence 30 years ago, but in less than a year, I am back on my feet."
It will take about eight years for Srsich to become a priest.
(H/T: Daily Mail)