Eleven-year-old Stephen Reilly has been battling an aggressive form of bone cancer for five years.
But he was pronounced cancer-free two months ago, and his family claim he had the miraculous recovery after a trip to the Medjugorje religious site in Herzegovina.
Dad Michael, from Eyrecourt in Co Galway, told the Irish Mirror : “Stephen was six when he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a very aggressive form of bone cancer – just above his right knee in April 2011.
“He underwent eight months of aggressive chemotherapy and limb salvage surgery to remove the tumour.
“In December 2012 while undergoing leg-lengthening surgery in Cappagh hospital, he took a bleed and we nearly lost him.
“Over the following weeks, Stephen’s leg started to swell and by New Year’s Eve we ended up again in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, where we found the cancer had returned.
“After two days of tests the doctors told us that the cancer had spread to his lungs and lymph nodes.” Stephen’s right leg was amputated in January 2013 after his condition deteriorated.
Two weeks later, doctors found that another tumour had appeared on his stump.
But Michael and his wife never gave up hope and decided to take Stephen to Medjugorje.
Holy site: Stephen’s dad said he never gave up hope when taking his son to Medjugorje
Dad-of-four Michael told the Connacht Tribune: “My wife Nora booked us a trip and we went out in April .
“When we got there, I carried him in my arms up and around Apparition Hill which is a fairly steep and craggy climb to the place where Our Lady appeared.
“The following morning, I joined a group of pilgrims to climb a mountain called Cross Mountain which is over 500m high and is even steeper and craggier.
“I made a promise that if Stephen ever survived I would carry him to the top.”
During the trip, Stephen told his parents he saw a statue of Our Lady move, while Michael said he saw some sort of light that seemed like a giant hand over Stephen’s head.
Less than a week after they got back home, Stephen’s scans showed some improvement.
His condition continued to improve until he was declared cancer-free two months ago.
On April 30, Michael and his son returned to Medjugorje as promised.
The relieved dad said: “I kind of fulfilled my promise as Stephen climbed Cross Mountain on crutches with one leg. I only carried him through a really hard part and the ramp to the Cross at the top.”