Her story captured the heart of the sports world— and after the 2015 ESPY Awards, she captured everyone else’s heart. Leah Still has been battling a form of cancer called neuroblastoma is currently in remission. Here’s what you need to know about her illness.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the audience when NFL player Devon Still, 26, delivered an emotional speech at the 2015 ESPY Awards on July 15. He walked up to the stage to accept the Jimmy V Perseverance Award on behalf of his daughter Leah Still, 4, who has courageously been fighting cancer.
Neuroblastoma, here’s what we know.
1) What is neuroblastoma?
The form of cancer that Leah has, starts in young nerve cells called neuroblasts, according to Seattle Children’s Hospital. In a healthy child, these cells become the nerves that control functions such as heartbeat and blood pressure, and the way a child’s body reacts to stress. With neuroblastoma, those neuroblasts never mature and wind up dividing and growing into tumors.
2) When can children get this disease?
Most children with this disease get it before age 5. In some kids, the disease starts before birth, according to the website. In most cases, parents and doctors don’t know the disease is there until tumors grow large enough to be felt or to cause symptoms.
3) What causes neuroblastoma?
Sadly, doctors do not know what causes the changes in cells that lead to neuroblastoma. It’s also not clear whether certain factors increase a child’s risk.
4) The treatment plan for neuroblastoma varies on multiple factors.
Treatment depends the stage of the cancer, the child’s age, and other factors, according to the American Cancer Society. Some children will get more than one type of treatment. These can include:
High-dose chemotherapy/radiation therapy and stem cell transplant
5) The survival rate varies on the level of risk.
According to the American Cancer Society, more than 95% of children with low-risk neuroblastoma survive. About 90% of those with intermediate-risk disease survive. Children in the high-risk group have a 40% to 50% chance of survival. Doctors had originally told Devon that his daughter’s survival rate was 50/50.
HollywoodLifers — leave your well wishes for Leah below!
— Brittany King