By Carter Higgins, blackdoctor.org
#LeahStrong for one year!
At the age of 4, the biggest battle most girls would have to fight would be seeing which one would braid the doll’s hair first or battling mommy and daddy on how late to stay up at night. But at four years old, Leah Still, who captured the hearts of literally millions across the world, was diagnosed with a stage 4 neuroblastoma. The disease usually affects children under 5 years and develops from infantile nerve cells found in several parts of the body. There’s only about 650 cases per year in the U.S., and only 100 more cases per year worldwide Nearly half of neuroblastoma cases occur in children younger than two years.
Leah, now at the age of 5 is boasting being cancer free for one full year.
For this occasion, dad Devon Still did as he has been doing all throughout this journey, letting millions of people in via social media. He celebrated his daughter’s “second birthday” with a post on Instagram that read, “I want to wish a Happy (2nd) Birthday to my baby, Leah. Today, March 25th, marks a year of her being in remission! A day she was given a second chance at life.”
Before Leah underwent her tests, Still posted a picture of her, dressed her in a party attire to make her feel happy and lucky and help ensure positive outcome.
“She wanted to dress up pretty because if you look good you feel good and if you feel good you get good results,” Still wrote on Instagram. “If that theory is right then I have nothing to worry about because she looks beautiful today.”
Leah’s cancer battle gained international attention after Still’s NFL team, Cincinnati Bengals, cut him from the team after two years. However, they signed him back on the team the next day as a member of the practice squad, so that would receive health benefits and be able to pay for Leah’s cancer treatment.
Leah received treatment and exhaustive surgery for a year, and is just overjoyed to still be free from cancer. During her illness, Still said that he interacted with a lot of families who faced a hard time working and paying for their child’s treatment.
“There are many dark days when you hear what the doctors are saying sometimes, but if you have the right mindset, you’ll be able to push through,” admits Devon. “That is why I documented my journey on social media; so that other parents that have to through this can look back and see what we did to make it through.”
When asked about how she was so strong, for so long, Leah simply smiled and said, “I think it’s because my daddy made me [strong].”
For more information about Leah’s foundation, The Still Strong Foundation, to help other families with childhood cancer, click here.