Baby Gianna Masciantonio developed a rare brain tumor just weeks after her birth last year when her red blood cells attacked her brain stem. After multiple chemotherapy treatments, an August brain scan revealed that the tumor was still there, and parents Joey and Kristen Masciantonio decided to do one more round of chemo before withdrawing treatment and enjoying their final days together, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Then, in September, they got a call from an FBI friend who'd secured them passes to see the pope during his visit to Philadelphia, reports NBC News.
Avid Catholics, the parents got permission from their doctor to brave the throngs and bring baby Gianna to the crowded streets. In what some call the Miracle on Market Street, a security guard brought the baby forward and the pope kissed Gianna's head, and now, two months later, scans reveal her tumor is smaller and doctors have changed the originally grim prognosis. "It was the luck of the draw," her father said. But while he believes in "divine intervention," he's also careful not to dismiss the role of the doctors treating his daughter. "The kiss was God's work, that's for sure. But, the miracle was Him giving us the platform to reach those doctors who, ultimately, played a major role in saving Gianna's life." (Check out the pope's quote later that day about miracles of love.)