What's the first step to beating cancer?
A positive attitude.
That's the message Texans defensive end Devon Still shared with kids battling cancer during a visit to Texas Children's Hospital on Tuesday morning for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
"I love seeing their upbeat attitude because that's the first step to beating this disease," Still said. "You have so many reasons where you can feel sorry for yourself or be depressed and usually that takes a toll on you. But when you can fight this disease with a smile on your face, it makes a huge difference."
In 2014, Still's four-year-old daughter, Leah, was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma. In January, Still announced Leah was cancer free and had completed her final treatment.
Texans defensive end Devon Still visited Texas Childrens Hospital for Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month. Photo Credit: Marielle Brisbois/Texas Childrens Hospital
Still visited patients, signed autographs, offered encouragement and brought smiles to families in the hospital's inpatient cancer unit in celebration of Kids Day presented by Texas Children's Hospital, which will take place this Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.
"It's definitely important to team up with the Houston Texans and come out here and show families that we are thinking of them and we are there to support them and just let them know I know what it's like to be their shoes," Still said. "Me and my family, we made it out of it, so it's definitely possible, and I think that's big for any family to see when they are in this battle."
The defensive end concluded his visit by reading his children's book, "I am Leah Strong" to patients about his daughter's fight with pediatric cancer.
The Still family wrote "I am Leah Strong" to help families cope with a new and trying situation.
"We wanted to make a big impact on the childhood cancer community," Still said. "We felt as though when we were going through our battle, there wasn't a handbook out there that said this is you have to handle this situation, this is how you explain it to your kid.
"So we just took what we did, with our experience and put it into a book so hopefully families are able to read this book and understand the process of what they are going to go though and give them tips on how to handle it."
The Still family persevered thanks to the support they received throughout the country, which helped them realize they weren't fighting cancer by themselves.
"Although I understood what childhood cancer was, I didn't really understand what families went through," Still said. "Having a platform of being an NFL player, I was able to give people an inside look of what it's like for families to deal with this disease."
Still says Leah, now in first grade, is finally enjoying life as a kid again. She participated in swimming class for the first time in two years this past summer and will soon resume dancing.
"Sometimes you take those things for granted," Still said. "But when you've been through what my family has been through, and to see her be able to be a normal kid, it's definitely a blessing."