St Louis Cardinals pitcher Alex Reyes has revealed his baby daughter has been battling cancer for more than a year after tumors were found near her heart.
The 23-year-old, a promising rookie and Top 20 prospect, just underwent his second season-ending surgery in two years.
But as the sports world has been musing about his career, Reyes reveals he has had 'more important things' to focus on: little Alyeka, who turns two in July, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a cancer in the nerve cells, when she was just five months old.
So for the last 18 months, in between rehabilitation from elbow surgery, Reyes has been taking his daughter to doctor's appointments and chemotherapy treatments.
Speaking to reporters for the first time since surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right shoulder, Reyes said Aleyka has helped motivate him to fight for his career after multiple injuries have led to him pitching in just one game in the major leagues in about two years.
St Louis Cardinals pitcher Alex Reyes has revealed publicly for the first time that his one-year-old daughter, Aleyka (pictured), is battling cancer
Reyes, 23 (pictured, May 30), is coming off his second season-ending surgery in two years after he tore elbow and back muscles in February 2017 and May 2018, respectively
Aleyka (left and right), who turns two in July, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma when she was just five months old. Neuroblastoma is a type of cancer of specialized nerve cells in the nervous system and other tissues. Tumors were found around Aleyka's heart
'There are some things that are more important in life than this,' Reyes told the StL Sports Page in his return to the Cardinals clubhouse.
'She battled with cancer and she battled with a tumor. I felt like, if my daughter fought for her life, I can fight for my career. That's pretty much been what's been in my head.'
Neuroblastoma is a cancer of specialized nerve cells in the nervous system and other tissues.
More than 700 children in the US are diagnosed each year with the disease and most are diagnosed when they are younger than five.
It is the second most common solid tumor in childhood, and it makes up eight percent of the total number of children's cancers.
Neuroblastoma commonly occurs in either one of the two adrenal glands in a child's tummy or in nerve tissue that runs alongside the spinal cord, in the neck, chest, abdomen or pelvis.
The cancer can spread to tissues beyond the original site, including bone marrow, bone, lymph nodes, liver and skin.
As with most cancers the cause of neuroblastoma is unknown. The symptoms vary depending on where a child's tumor is.
Treatment depends on the age of the child, as well as the size and position of the tumor and whether the disease has spread.
Neuroblastoma is a type of cancer