The inspiring battle against cancer by the 4-year-old daughter of Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still took a positive turn over the weekend as donations continued to pour in to support pediatric cancer research thanks to the family's story.
Still posted an encouraging update on Instagram after a five-hour surgery for his daughter, Leah, on Sept. 25 to remove a tumor from her abdomen.
A few hours before the surgery at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia, Still gave Leah a sweet pep talk, asking her, "You ready for today? You ready to get this cancer up outta you? Let's do it!" Leah was diagnosed with neuroblastoma on June 2, with doctors giving her a 50-50 chance of survival. While the most recent surgery went well, Still noted on Instagram that Leah is not completely cancer-free and will require more treatments.
Still was initially released by the team during the preseason after battling injuries and admitting his mind was mainly on Leah. The Bengals then re-signed him to the practice squad so that he could retain his health benefits to pay for 100 percent of his daughter's treatment. On Sept. 9, he was brought back to the 53-man roster and has been part of the team in its 3-0 start to the season. He has traveled back and forth to Philadelphia to be with her during her treatment and surgery.
Sales of Still's No. 75 jersey, which the team announced on Sept. 8 would go to benefit Children's Hospital in Cincinnati, have raised more than $1 million. More than 10,000 jerseys have been purchased at $100 each. The Bengals announced in a release over the weekend that on Nov. 6, during their Thursday night game against the Cleveland Browns, they will present Children's Hospital with a $1 million check.
“We applaud Devon for his openness in sharing his daughter’s challenging story nationwide through media and social media,” Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn said in the news release. “We also applaud the response of our fans and many others to the jersey sales. The welfare of Devon and Leah are foremost in our minds, but we are proud and excited to be able to be a part of something that can help advance the cause of fighting childhood cancer.”
“I want to thank Devon and his family for sharing their story. Not only has it generated international attention to the issue of pediatric cancer, but it has served as an inspiration to many other families that are traveling a similar path,” Michael Fisher, president of Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center, said in the news release.