Devon Still: Raising a Fighter
Advocacy NFL defensive tackle Devon Still recalls the harrowing process of learning your child has cancer.
To a parent, pediatric cancer may be the worst diagnosis a doctor could deliver. However, we can find silver lining in individuals who share their hardship with the public in order to foster broader awareness.
Mediaplanet: What was the hardest part about finding out your daughter Leah has cancer?
Devon Still: Knowing that there is a possibility your child will not be with you anymore.
MP: How did you explain Leah’s condition to her?
DS: I told her that it's a sickness that some people get and that she has to fight as hard as she can to win.
MP: What advice would you give to parents facing a similar situation right now?
DS: No matter what the doctors say, no matter what happens throughout the battle, always remain positive and be the strength for your child.
"One thing families have to learn when facing cancer is to accept the help that is offered."
MP: How has Leah grown throughout the whole experience?
DS: She has matured way faster than a 5-year-old should. She appreciates the little things in life more because, for a year and a half, they were taken away from her.
MP: What kind of support did you see from family, friends and even fans?
DS: One thing families have to learn when facing cancer is to accept the help that is offered. Battling cancer is hard, so if family and friends offer things like bringing your dinner or something of the sort, take it. That is one less thing you have to worry about. The support we received from fans was amazing. Honestly, it's what got us through those tough times. When you can go on social media or turn on the TV and see how many people are rooting for you, it makes you fight so much harder.
MP: You and Leah were honored at the ESPYs with the Jimmy V. Perseverance Award, which you accepted on her behalf. Can you tell us about that experience?
DS: Winning that award let us know we accomplished what we set out to do when she was diagnosed. We wanted to use our story to shed light on the world about what it's like for a family to deal with childhood cancer. We wanted to show families in similar situations how to stay strong during one of the most trying times in life. That award let us know we did just that.
MP: You were able to bring awareness to pediatric cancer in outstanding ways, what do you hope to accomplish for the future?
DS: By using my platform as a professional athlete, I allowed people to really get an inside look at what it's like for a family to fight childhood cancer. In return people really stepped up and did everything they could to spread the word, and we raised over $1.5 million for research.
Since Leah's treatment has ended, moving forward I want to start weeding her out of the spotlight and help get her back to having a normal childhood. I am going to now use my platform and my foundation, The Still Strong Foundation, to tell others' stories so that they can get that support we had to help them win the fight against cancer.