An infant battling brain cancer, who famously was kissed by Pope Francis in Philadelphia earlier this year, is responding to treatment, according to her parents.
Gianna Masciantonio, 1, was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor called systemic juvenile xanthogranuloma (JXG) months after being born, her parents said to ABC News, which added that doctors told her parents she would likely not survive for more than a few weeks.
"They told us to go home and spend days to weeks [with her]," Joe Masciantonio, the child’s father, said to ABC.
Gianna has been on multiple chemotherapy treatments and undergone complex surgeries to try and shrink the tumor, her parents stated to ABC, which added that, although the tumor itself was benign, its location on the brain stem was potentially deadly because it could affect the child’s ability to breathe and for her heart to beat.
During the Pope’s recent visit to Philadelphia, Masciantonio said he had an opportunity to hold out Gianna when the pope drove by, and the pontiff kissed Gianna on the head and granted her his blessing, NBC reported.
At that time, Gianna still had two pending chemotherapy treatments and an MRI that would show any developments on her condition, NBC added, stating that last week, six weeks after her encounter with the Pope, Gianna's MRI results came back, showing the tumor had shrunk significantly.
"[The tumor] was basically just a blush on the screen," Masciantonio said to NBC. "It was virtually invisible."
Doctors told them that, although the tumor had not been completely eradicated, the prognosis was life-changing: Gianna would likely survive, NBC reported.
"Pope Francis kissing her was my miracle, was the way of God telling me He was with us," Kristen Masciantonio, Gianna’s mother, said to ABC.