Leah Still to other children battling cancer: 'You're not fighting this alone'

The brave cancer survivor, now 8, gave some words of advice to other kids facing a cancer diagnosis. Her dad, former NFL player Devon Still, joined for her chat with Hoda Kotb.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Scott Stump

Leah Still knows what it's like to being a young child and receive a scary cancer diagnosis, so now she wants to help other kids who are facing that difficult news.

The 8-year-old daughter of former NFL defensive lineman Devon Still also knows what it's like to face the disease head on with a smile following a diagnosis of Stage IV neuroblastoma in 2014 when she was just 4 years old.

After initially being given a 50-50 chance to live, she has now been in remission for just over three years. She gave some advice to other children facing the disease during an interview alongside her dad and her good friend Hoda Kotb on TODAY Tuesday.

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"I would say stay strong and it doesn't matter what's on the outside, it matters what's on the inside,'' she said. "And you're not fighting this alone, ever."

During her public fight, Leah helped raise more than a million dollars for cancer research, won an ESPY Award for her courage, and inspired TODAY'S "Truly Brave" music video, which starred Cyndi Lauper and Sara Bareilles.

Leah's journey has inspired Devon's new book, "Still In the Game," which aims to help other families dealing with childhood cancer.

Devon was a member of the Cincinnati Bengals when Leah was first diagnosed and eventually retired from the NFL in 2017. In September 2014, the Bengals kept Devon on the practice squad on purpose so that he would have health benefits to pay for Leah's treatment, and later signed him to the 53-man roster.

His No. 75 jersey became a symbol of Leah's fight, with the Bengals presenting a $1.3 million check to the Cincinnati Children's Hospital from sales of the item.

One of the things the father and daughter learned in hindsight from Leah's cancer journey is that it's acceptable to show emotion in front of one another instead of always trying to present a strong front. Leah said she purposely didn't cry in front of Devon during the period when she was being treated.

"I just didn't want (my family) to cry like I cried,'' she said. "So that's why when I was around my dad, I didn't cry in front of him. Both of us didn't cry in front of each other."

"That's probably one of my biggest regrets is not being more vulnerable in front of her,'' Devon Still said. "I thought that I had to be strong all the time, but I didn't know that she was experiencing the same emotions that I was going through.

"When we would get off FaceTime with each other, I would just start crying. I found out when we were writing this book that she would go into the bathroom at the hospital and cry because we just tried to stay strong for each other."