The life of Gianluca Firetti, a young Italian, changed completely after his cancer diagnosis. His strength in facing illness provides a lesson in faith and trust in God amid adversity.

Gianluca was born on Sept. 8, 1994, in Sospiro, a province of Cremona, Italy. He was a boy like so many others. However, during a soccer match at age 18, his life suddenly changed.

Pain in his right knee led him to undergo several tests, which showed a tragic diagnosis: osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.

Thanks to his friend Valentina, he met Father Marco D'Agostino, with whom he established a relationship of faith and friendship. Gianluca opened his heart to him, confiding his doubts and questions about what awaited us after death.

Father Marco was surprised when Gianluca did not reject illness, but rather accepted it, climbing the cross of Christ.

Gianluca put others before himself. He had words of encouragement for his friends, who lined up to visit him. He transmitted serenity to those who met him, becoming a sign of resurrection for many.

In short, the 20-year-old was a true living Gospel.

His brother Federico, in the book entitled "Gianluca Firetti, Saint Next Door", recalled:

"I also, with my brother, rediscovered the everyday life of the little things. [...] Because I believe that it is the little things that count in life. And Gian taught us that."

Gianluca's condition worsened day after day, but the desire to live grew in him, although he was aware that the end was near:

"'Father, I am dying. What awaits me? What will be my reward? Is Jesus waiting for me?' he asked.
"One night, Gianluca revealed to his brother: 'After all, we are made for Heaven. Forever. For eternity.'"

On Jan. 24, 2015, Gianluca was admitted to the hospital. Despite the pain, he had time for visits and listened to the people who took turns in his room. It went from being a place of suffering and death to a place of meeting and prayer.

To each of his friends, he repeated: "I beg you, do not waste your life, be good, study, because I would change and study 500 pages instead of suffering."

Gianluca died on Jan. 30, 2015, at the age of 20. His friend Valentina recalled in the book:

"Gian was truly a special young man. A believer. The more the illness consumed him, the more his soul shone."
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