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Devon Still on Strength, Faith and Community

Former NFL player Devon Still talks about what he learned about faith and strength and the importance of community while his young daughter was going through difficult treatments for cancer.

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Devon: The biggest lesson I learned from Leah battling cancer was about what strength truly is. Because growing up in sports, I always thought strength was what you can do in the weight room, what you can do on a football field. But Leah really proved to me that strength is really all about your heart, what you’re really willing to endure in order to get what you want out of life, and Leah really showed that as she was battling cancer.

And for any family out there who has a child that’s battling cancer or any type of health disease, what I would say is just allow yourself to be open. Tell your child what’s really going on, because a lot of times we feel like our children don’t really understand or they don’t know, but they do, and they’re looking for us to be open and honest with them.

The toughest time during Leah’s cancer treatment would have to be after we found out that cancer had spread after her first clinical trial, because her initial prognosis was a 50/50 chance of beating this disease, and when the cancer spread all over her body, those numbers dropped significantly. But we were able to push through it and she went into remission.

The biggest thing that helped me with my faith during this time is understanding that faith is really the only thing you have during a battle like this. Because you get so much bad news from the doctors, you read so many negative things online that sometimes it makes you depressed. Sometimes it makes you feel like you can’t make it to the light at the end of the tunnel.

But I believe that faith gives you that hope that if you continue to push forward, if you keep trying, then you will reach the end of that tunnel and everything will go back to normal.

I was inspired by the other families to get out and really talk about what Leah was going through, because I know a lot of families were going through so much and they didn’t really have an outlet. They didn’t have a voice that the public wanted to listen to.

And with me having a platform as an NFL player, other families inspired me to go out there and speak on behalf of all the families who are battling childhood cancer, so people know exactly what we’re going through.

I think social media is a great tool for people to use because it gives you a platform to tell your story, unfiltered and without a time limit. For me, when I use social media, it’s a way for me to connect with other families around the globe who are going through the same battle as our family. We were able to feed off of each other, give each other advice, and just give each other motivation to not give up.

Leah: What impact did my diagnosis have on you?

Devon: It had a huge impact, not just on me, but on the entire family. I like to speak positivity into the world because I think it gives us control over that battle. And for me, the impact you had was just showing people all over the world that no matter what you’re going through, you’re still in the game.

If you’re willing to fight for four quarters and endure some pain, you can overcome anything or any struggle that you’re facing in life. So I appreciate you showing not only me that, but showing the world that. And that was a great question.

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