Inspirational teen with incurable cancer makes visit to the pope

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Monday, October 19, 2015
Gino Vizzi, 17, has incurable cancer. He's traveling to the Vatican to meet the pope, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. (WSBTV)

When Gino Vizzi found out he had an incurable form of cancer, he felt called to help other children and teens going through the same thing.

"God gave me this for a reason -- and that's to help other children and families dealing with cancer by getting people to start praying and have faith in the power and purpose of God. And that is what I will do!" Vizzi said he told his parents at the time.

Now the 17-year-old from Gwinnett County, Ga., will visit Pope Francis in Italy thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and he considers this a chance to help others, too. He says he will ask the pope to bless all children with cancer.

"I feel it'll bring me closer to God," Vizzi told WBS-TV. "The pope is one step below God I feel. So, just to have him touch me, or touch my shoulders is going to be a great feeling."

Vizzi's battle with cancer began in Sept. 2014 when he was diagnosed with a rare form of the disease called chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). CML is a rare type of cancer that has treatment options but no reliable cure, according to the American Cancer Society, and Vizzi says he'll be on treatment for the rest of his life.

The P4 Foundation was started because of the support Vizzi felt after his diagnosis, according to the nonprofit's website. P4 stands for "Pray for," and that's exactly what the foundation does for kids with cancer, in addition to raising money for cancer research and for families fighting the disease.

When Vizzi and his family are on the receiving end of the pope's prayers at a public mass Wednesday, Vizzi says they will all feel truly blessed.

"It's something I can't even fathom," he told WSB-TV. "Being Italian as well, and going to Italy to meet him is just amazing. Having my family with me is just a blessing itself."