Cancer survivor, 9, granted wish to be blessed

A NINE-YEAR-OLD boy who wrote to the Pope asking him to “help keep his cancer away” will be blessed by the Pontiff on his visit to Scotland.

Anton McManus, from East Kilbride, south of Glasgow, will meet Pope Benedict ahead of his Glasgow Mass, after the Vatican granted the schoolboy’s request yesterday.

Doctors discovered a cancerous tumour on Anton’s spine when he was four.

The Primary 4 pupil underwent chemotherapy, radiotherapy and had to endure two operations when his neck snapped. He enjoys school and playing with his friends but is scared that the cancer will return.

After hearing about the Pope’s visit to Scotland, the boy wrote to the Vatican for help.

His parents, Kevin and Tammy, said Anton has been given a “chance in a million” after receiving confirmation that the Pope will bless him.

Anton wrote to the Pontiff: “I was really ill and now I am feeling better, even though I can’t do a lot of things my friends can do.

“I am writing this letter to ask if you could bless me when you come to Glasgow to help keep my cancer away as I think if anyone could help, God can.

“I really hope I will be lucky enough to meet you as it would mean the world to me. I will keep praying to see if they get answered.”

Family friend Les Hoey helped Anton write the letter around 10 days ago.

The family waited anxiously for a reply before being told by Father Paul Conroy, who is co-ordinating the Scotland visit, that Anton would meet the Pope.

The Pontiff will stop and bless the schoolboy as he enters Bellahouston Park before Mass with an estimated 65,000 pilgrims.

Anton’s mother said: “It’s just fantastic, a chance in a million... The cancer has been in remission for four years and he can’t afford for it to come back. He was lucky to make it through the first time. We just hope that maybe the blessing will keep it at bay.”

Eileen Tompkins, acting headteacher at St Vincent’s Primary, said the whole school was delighted to hear Anton’s news.

She said: “He is a magnificent little man – just a delightful boy. He coped with his cancer and, to his credit, he doesn’t make it a barrier.

“Meeting the Holy Father would be a great joy for any child.

“But it also shows the power of the written word, and that is a message that we always try to get across to pupils.”


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