A second grader from Massachusetts is heading to Rome with the hopes that a blessing from Pope Benedict XVI will heal her of a malignant brain tumor.
Eight year-old Caroline Hamilton has endured 25 blood transfusions and underwent chemotherapy for 15 months, yet nothing has been able to dislodge the plum-sized tumor in her brain.
When she had an opportunity to participate in an upcoming papal audience for sick pilgrims, her family jumped at the chance.
"I want to see him so he can heal my brain tumor," Caroline told the the Eagle Tribune. "I want it to be gone. It's no fun that other people don't have to go through this."
Her parents and teachers were not surprised by Caroline's wish to meet the pope, as she enjoys reading the Bible and books on the saints of the Catholic Church.
"You wouldn't know she has that beast in her head because she's a miracle," said her mother, Sarah Hamilton. "I'm excited to see her happy. This is a dream come true for my husband and I to see her happy because she deserves it."
At her mother's suggestion, Caroline will bring a set of rosary beads for each of her classmates at St. Michael Catholic School in North Andover to be blessed by the pope. Those classmates will then carry those beads when they receive their First Communion May 2.
"It's the least we can do because the school and the parish community have been incredibly loving and supportive," Mrs. Hamilton said. Caroline has her own reason for bringing the beads.
"I want him to make them holy because he's very special," she said.
The Hamilton family has been living a nightmare during the past two years. Caroline’s father, Rick Hamilton, is a major in the National Guard, and Sarah Hamilton is a criminal defense attorney who has been staying home to take care of Caroline since the tumor was discovered two years ago. It was found after Caroline started having vision problems and her parents noticed a “jerking motion” in her left eye. When ophthalmologists gave her eyes a clean bill of health, doctors began searching for a lesion on her brain and discovered the tumor.
The tumor is incurable and inoperable. Caroline underwent chemotherapy that caused her to lose some of her vision and much of her beautiful black hair, but the tumor kept growing.
"Losing my hair was something I didn't like. I just missed it. I cried and I was angry when I lost it," said Caroline, whose hair is now growing back.
"The problem is still there, but we're giving her body a break," her mother said.
The trip to Rome was provided by the Make-a-Wish Foundation in Massachusetts. It will enable the whole family to make the trip, including Caroline’s two brothers, William, 9, and Aiden, 4. For travel related information check this out.
When the audience takes place, Caroline will be seated in the front row where she will receive a personal blessing from the Holy Father.
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