The most heartwarming story of last year’s NFL season had nothing to do with the action on the field. No, it was all about adorable little Leah Still, the four-year-old daughter of Cincinnati Bengals defensive lineman Devon Still, and her courageous battle with cancer that moved the nation.
In January, she was given half a chance of overcoming stage four neuroblastoma, a devastating prognosis for the child who has often smiled in the face of death.
Then this week happened. Her father posted this on his Instagram page, under a touching photo of him and Leah: “That moment you get the best news you’ve ever received and don’t know what to do so you just flex. We got Leah’s MIBG Scans back tonight and the doctors told us they didn’t see any active disease in her body!!!”
The startling, wonderful news was welcomed by thousands. Still later posted on Twitter the lack of active cancer in the scan does not mean his little girl is cancer-free. “But this test showing no evidence of active disease in her body is a huge step in that direction!”
The family is awaiting MRI and bone biopsy results that will give them more insight into her condition.
“But the doctors feel very optimistic about them because of the results from today,” Still wrote. “So for now we celebrate!!”
All season, Still posted photos and kept the public informed about his daughter’s condition. Their bond and his commitment to her captured the attention of the NFL and its fans. During the third quarter of a game against New England, Patriots cheerleaders donned Still’s Bengals’ jersey and a music video was shown featuring Leah and other children battling cancer. Men cried.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft donated $25,000 to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center.
“It was very emotional to see that on the board, my daughter and those brave kids fighting cancer,” Still said, according to the Bengals website. “Just seeing the cheerleaders take off their jackets and wearing the jerseys put it over the top. It’s amazing. It’s very emotional. Every time I see a video like that that reminds me what my daughter and those other kids are going through, it’s definitely hard to fight back the tears.”
Support and prayers have been plentiful for Leah, who, her father says, bravely faces the chemotherapy treatments.
The Bengals have been amazingly supportive. They had cut Still, but re-signed him to the practice squad so he could receive health insurance to help take care of Leah’s medical bills.