Woman Battling Cancer Fulfills Dream of Seeing the Pope

Morgan Zalot

Dianne Zalack knows she won't make it to Rome in her lifetime -- so seeing Pope Francis during his historic visit to Philadelphia is the next best thing.

Zalack, along with her husband, two daughters and son-in-law, staked out a prime position for Pope Francis' evening parade through Philadelphia's streets at 9 am. The family -- who traveled to Philadelphia from Cleveland -- posted up right on the gates at 16th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Some 10 hours later, the jubilant moment they'd been waiting for came. Pope Francis, decked out in his white vestments, rode by on his Popemobile -- a white Jeep Wrangler -- and waved to cheering crowds. The excitement was contagious as hundreds of people cheered, waved and snapped pictures of the Holy Father.

"It was worth every second!" an emotional Zalack said joyously minutes after the Pope passed by.

Zalack, 71, was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer 15 years ago. Doctors gave her two years to live.

"It's kind of on my bucket list to see the Pope," Zalack said Saturday afternoon as she waited with her family. "I knew we would never get to Rome, so this is the next best thing."

Zalack and her husband of 52 years, Richard Zalack, said they decided in April that no matter what, they'd be in Philly to see the Pope. They booked non-refundable flight tickets from Cleveland and a hotel room, and coordinated with two of three of their daughters to come as a family.

Living to see this day despite her grim prognosis more than a decade ago is nothing short of a miracle for Dianne Zalack. She said her faith in God and her family helped her through--but she's still battling the disease today.

"It's everything to see the Pope," the woman said. "I've been crying all day long. We went through security and we were all crying."

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