When Jason was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, he turned to the one thing he knew would provide him with strength and answers during this difficult time – his faith.
“He has always been so confident that this is his personal journey,” said Jason’s mom, Marcy. “We did not have Jason baptized as a baby, but when he received his diagnosis at the age of 12, he asked a priest if he could be baptized into the Catholic Church.”
For the first few years, Jason’s tumor was stable; an already difficult reality his family had to accept. But last spring, they received news that his tumor had become aggressive.
“Jason became weak and nauseous from the chemotherapy and he started to fall behind in school because of his treatment schedule,” said Marcy. “You could tell it was really hard on him.”
Hospital visits and intense treatment began to replace the time Jason formerly spent playing football and going to classes. It was when his world was turned upside down that Jason was approached by Make-A-Wish Arizona about a wish.
“I met with my volunteer wish granters and I was so overwhelmed because I wanted my wish to really count and be meaningful,” said Jason. “I was searching for answers and prayed about it a lot, then the answer came to me on Christmas morning.”
Jason wished to receive a blessing from Pope Francis, and wrote a letter to Make-A-Wish Arizona to emphasize how important his wish would be to him.
“I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked to learn that my wish was actually going to be possible and that it was coming true so soon,” said Jason, who flew to Rome with his parents, brother and sister for his wish in April.
When they arrived at The Vatican, Jason and his family were seated in a special section below Pope Francis for the Catholic Holy Mass.
“Religion brings so many different people together and it was so incredible to see how many people were gathered that day,” said Jason, who was greeted by Pope Francis following the ceremony.
“First, he blessed my parents, brother and sister individually. Then my mother asked him for a special prayer of healing and he came over to me, laid his hands on my head and said a prayer,” he continued. “There really are no words to describe the experience, I felt numb in every way possible. I’ve never felt closer to God and it was unbelievable.”
In fact, Jason’s entire family felt the weight of the blessing.
“The look on Jason’s face was absolutely beautiful,” said Marcy. “Jason’s health not only affects him, but this diagnosis has taken a toll on our entire family and we would have never been able to give him an opportunity like this on our own. It was so meaningful to not only share this blessing with him, but for Jason to experience his wish at a time he really needed it.”
Jason and his family spent the rest of their time in Rome exploring the city, eating plenty of gelato and visiting landmarks like St. Peter’s Basilica, The Trevi Fountain and The Colosseum.
“We really bonded as a family and made a pact not to talk about Jason’s condition at all during the trip so we could leave that part of our lives behind,” said Marcy.
Jason came back from his wish feeling healed and, shortly after they returned, his family received astonishing news – since his blessing from Pope Francis, Jason’s tumor had decreased in size.
“I believe this is the result of my blessing,” Jason said.
“We know the miracle is happening,” shared Marcy. “We have a lot of faith as a family, but Jason is so insightful in his own soul and he truly believes. It inspires us all.”
Jason finished chemotherapy in April and he will continue to have MRI scans every eight weeks to monitor his tumor, but after good news like this, his family remains hopeful.
“We don’t know what the outcome will be, but Jason’s strength is coming back,” Marcy continued. “He’ll be a senior in high school this fall and he is excited to be able to participate in sports again.”
“I definitely don’t like losing so I will never give up,” Jason said.
In the upcoming weeks, Jason’s family also plans to have an Italian-themed spaghetti night with his volunteer wish granters so they can see photos from his trip and hear how this experience changed their lives.
“Kim and Donna have become a part of our family now,” said Marcy. “What their team and Make-A-Wish Arizona did for Jason is such a meaningful blessing. After having such a positive experience with his wish, my husband and I want to become wish granter volunteers too, so we can see the same hope and joy in another child like Jason.”