No one wants to see their loved one battling cancer for life, especially when that person hanging in the balance is your daughter. Devon Still, retired NFL defensive tackle endured this ordeal five years ago, and on Wednesday, he celebrated his daughter, Leah being cancer-free for five years on social media.
Still told TODAY, “Once your child reaches the five-year mark in their cancer battle, the chances of the cancer coming back are basically slim to none. This is huge for us because when you have a child that’s battling cancer, you’re basically holding your breath until you reach this point.”
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His Instagram post began with, “That smile you make when you know you did it!”
View this post on Instagram
That smile you make when you know you did it! Against all odds you beat cancer! There’s so much I could say but I’m going to try to keep it short. When Leah was first diagnosed, I was so scared. I was scared because I thought I was going to lose my daughter. I was scared because I thought I was going to miss out on all the important moments every parent should share with their kids as they grow up. I was scared because our world was shaken up and I felt so lost and hopeless. I was scared because I felt like I was losing myself while fighting to not lose Leah. The point is, even when you’re scared, you just have to trust God and push forward! Leah you are the strongest person I know. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving this battle everything you had. I know it wasn’t easy…I know it wasn’t fair…but you handled this battle like a #playmaker and inspired millions (especially me) while doing it. This is just the beginning I love you with every bone in my body ❤️ #CANCERFREE
In 2014, Still’s 9-year-old daughter Leah was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma. Her doctors declared then that she had a 50-50 chance of survival and the former Cincinnati Bengal documented his daughter’s entire journey to recovery on Instagram.
This diagnosis was around the time Still was gearing to earn a roster spot with the Cincinnati Bengals and his coverage of her ordeal on Instagram made the #LeahStrong resonate with so many families around the world going through difficult times.
In March of 2015, her cancer was said to be in remission and before Thanksgiving of that same year, her father did us the honors of announcing that Leah was cancer-free.
“A day like this seemed so far away when we first got that diagnosis,” Still said. “There’s been a lot of ups and downs along the journey and times you question if you’re ever gonna make it to this point, so it’s just a blessing.”
Leah’s five-year ‘cancer-versary’ occurred amid the panic and chaos surrounding the coronavirus pandemic but the family didn’t let it rain on their parade.
“Leah didn’t get to go to the steakhouse she wanted to celebrate so I put on my chef hat and brought the steakhouse to her,” Still tweeted.
— Devon Still (@Dev_Still71) March 26, 2020
The Still family is very grateful for Leah’s milestone and is doing all it can to let other families experience what it had.
“Although Leah’s cancer fight is over with, we gotta fight until every parent gets to feel this feeling of reaching five years,” Still said.
just because Leah’s fight with cancer is over, it doesn’t mean our fight against childhood cancer is over. Please join our 5 for 5 challenge and help us reach our goal so we can help other families reach the same milestone. https://t.co/TXdZvOvYPZ pic.twitter.com/YOUqmnl0Py
— Devon Still (@Dev_Still71) March 25, 2020