A day after taking his daughter, Leah, to her first football game, Bengals defense tackle Devon Still is thanking fans who have been supporting him and his 4-year-old as she battles neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer. In an interview with PEOPLE on Friday, he shared this message:
Leah is doing a lot better. The past couple weeks had been kind of rough on her, having the chemo right after her surgery. But she bounced back pretty good – that’s how she was able to come out here to Cincinnati to watch the game.
She’s been talking about meeting the cheerleaders since her diagnosis, but she hadn’t been healthy enough to do it. For her to finally be able to come out here and spend half the day with cheerleaders, it really put a smile on her face.
[Since our story went public], people have been sending letters and messages on social media about their kids and how they went through similar situations. It definitely gives me a positive outlook. A lot of them were from parents of survivors. Hearing their stories helped me have faith that my daughter has a chance to beat this disease. She told me a couple weeks ago that she wants to grow up to be a nurse for kids who have what she has.
The first time Leah was on TV, she called me to say she was a superstar. I think that’s helping her keep her positive energy. With the videos we make on Instagram, she always asks me to read the comments that everybody writes. She’s soaking up the attention.
This weekend we fly back to Philadelphia because my daughter has to start radiation next Tuesday. After that she gets tested to see how much of the cancer we got out of her bones. This is her last treatment, as far as radiation and chemo. It’s supposed to last about four days, and after she’s discharged from the hospital we have to wait a little bit to get the test. Then she she needs a stem-cell transplant end of November. We took her stem cells out when we got the diagnosis and froze them, so they’ll put them back in. And hopefully we go into the holiday season with news that she is cancer-free.
Through all this, we really just try to hold on to our faith as much as possible. I’m pretty sure I’m not the first athlete who has gone through something like this, but it’s the first time I’ve seen something blow up to this magnitude. We just felt that everything that’s happened has happened for a reason. And we’re using my daughter’s disease to do something positive in this world, which is to raise as much awareness as possible for pediatric cancer, and as much money as possible to stop it. In a week we sold half a million jerseys!
Thank you for the way that everybody has stepped up. You’ve given my daughter’s battle with cancer a purpose. It helps knowing she is fighting is for a reason. I just ask that you continue to support pediatric cancer. I know it will help other families going through the same adversities deal with it a lot better too.
To donate to Still’s pediatric cancer fund, visit pldgit.com.