A brave Galway boy celebrated his eleventh birthday last week – two years after his family was told that he had lost his battle with cancer.
But Stephen Reilly’s 2013 trip to Medjugorje turned out to be a miraculous one – because he was pronounced cancer-free two months ago.
Stephen, from Eyrecourt, was diagnosed with bone cancer at the age of six which spread to his lungs and lymph nodes – and Stephen lost one of his legs.
The lowest point was on New Year’s Eve 2012, where the family ended up in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, to be told that the cancer had returned.
“After two days of tests the doctors told us that the cancer had spread to his lungs and lymph nodes and that there was no more that they could do,” says Stephen’s father, Michael.
But he family had already booked the pilgrimage and went ahead with it anyway – and while the Reillys were out there, Michael says a couple of strange things happened.
Stephen saw a statue of Our Lady move, Michael himself saw what might be described as the impression of a giant hand over his son’s head – and more critically, just two days after getting back he had scans which showed a slight improvement.
Over the next few months he went from strength to strength, and in July of that year, the Galway Hospice took him off their books.
Michael believes that this is down to a miracle in which Medjugorje – the town where Our Lady appeared to six local children in 1981 – has played its part.
And last month Stephen and his dad Michael made a return trip to the pilgrimage mountain, where Stephen was determined to make the climb unaided.
“I only carried him through a really hard part and the ramp to the cross at the top,” says a proud Michael of his courageous son.
See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune