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Devon Still and daughter Leah talk about life after surviving neuroblastoma

Leah Still, daughter of NFL player Devon Still, was diagnosed with the rare childhood cancer at age 4 and given a 50-50 chance of survival.
/ Source: TODAY

Seven years after his daughter was given a 50-50 chance of survival following a cancer diagnosis, former Penn State and Cincinnati Bengals football player Devon Still wants to make a lasting impact for families experiencing the same heartbreaking reality.

"When Leah first got diagnosed, we were thrown into a world that we had no idea about," Still told Hoda Kotb on TODAY Tuesday. "And it was a struggle. I often wished that we had some form of playbook to help get us through it. But we didn't."

The former NFL player and daughter, Leah, now 11, have teamed up with United Therapeutics to launch Braving Neuroblastoma, an educational initiative to support families touched by neuroblastoma with resources for before, during, and after treatment.

"It gives people the playbook on what to expect during cancer, after cancer, and what you can do to help ease the burden on a lot (of) the parents that are going through this battle," Still, who is a paid spokesperson for the campaign, said.

Leah told Hoda that while her own cancer is in her past, helping kids who are going through it now is not.

"Now that I’m older, I’m more aware of what I’d gone through as a child and the effects it may have on me as I grow up," Leah said on the partnership's website. "I'm happy to have now graduated into the survivorship program, but I do understand there is always a chance the cancer may come back."

In June 2014 at age 4, Leah was diagnosed with high-risk pediatric neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer that affects young infants and children under the age of 5. Leah became a public face of pediatric cancer while Still was trying to earn a spot on the Cincinnati Bengals roster.

In total, Leah underwent 41 days of chemo, 40 days of antibody therapy, 19 days of radiation, a seven-hour surgery, and a stem cell transplant. On March 25, 2015, nine months after they first received the devastating news of Leah’s diagnosis, Still was told by Leah's doctors that she had no evidence of disease.

In early 2020, the father-daughter duo celebrated five years of Leah being cancer-free.

"Once your child reaches the five-year mark in their cancer battle, the chances of the cancer coming back are basically slim to none,'' Still told TODAY in March 2020. "This is huge for us because when you have a child that's battling cancer you're basically holding your breath until you reach this point."

Today, Leah is six years in remission, but Still remembers the days this moment felt far away.

"I have a lot of families that reach out to me and sometimes I don't hear good endings or good outcomes," Still said. "So whenever I cross those type of stories, I obviously look at Leah and I just feel so blessed that we were able to come out on the other side. And that's why we fight so hard continuously for other families to this day."