Former NFL quarterback Alex Smith says family lives 'scan to scan' after daughter's brain tumor diagnosis

Former NFL quarterback Alex Smith recently opened up about his 7-year-old daughter’s battle with brain cancer, revealing that the 10-hour surgery to remove the malignant tumor back in 2022 had “missed a piece.” 

Smith, who retired from the NFL in 2021 after coming back from a gruesome leg injury that nearly cost him his life following a subsequent infection that had developed, told The New York Times in an interview published Friday that his family is living “scan to scan” after his daughter, Sloane, was diagnosed in May 2022 with a rare form of brain cancer. 

Alex Smith as an analyst

Former NFL player and current NFL analyst Alex Smith looks on before the game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Commanders at Lincoln Financial Field on Nov. 14, 2022 in Philadelphia. (Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

“It’s different when it’s your little girl and you’re helpless with how terrifying that is,” Smith told the outlet. 


The 39-year-old former quarterback shared his daughter’s diagnosis on social media in June 2022, revealing that just a month prior, she had been rushed to the hospital with “stroke-like symptoms.” Smith said further testing had revealed “a large brain tumor,” and Sloane was taken into emergency surgery.  

“The 10-hour procedure was the most excruciating time of our lives. A clock has never moved so slowly. The incredible neurosurgeons (at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health) did a miraculous job and were able to remove 100% of the tumor,” Smith said at the time.

However, a second 10-hour surgery was required this year after doctors discovered that the entire tumor had not been removed. 

Alex Smith before an NFL game

Alex Smith, #11 of the Washington Football Team, walks out of the tunnel prior to an NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on Nov. 26, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Cooper Neill/Getty Images)Cooper Neill/Getty Images)


“We found out last fall that essentially that they had missed a piece, that there was a little piece in there left over,” Smith told The New York Times.

Smith’s wife, Elizabeth Smith, said that the miraculous comeback her husband had after his leg injury is something their three children can look back on as they navigate their daughter’s own battle. 

“They know that you can overcome things, and you can fight through, and you can go back to living your life. Right? They got to go through that journey with their dad. I think it’s probably hopeful for them, right?”


The family spoke about trying to maintain a level of normalcy as they move forward, despite the uncertainty of their situation. 

Alex Smith prepares to throw a ball

Alex Smith, #11 of the Washington Football Team, passes the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on Jan. 3, 2021 in Philadelphia. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

“This is something that I don’t know where the end is,” Elizabeth Smith told The Times. “We don’t know because of the rarity of her tumor, when it will pop his head back, if it will pop its head back.”

Smith played 16 seasons in the league and was honored as the 2020 Comeback Player of the Year after returning to the field following a devastating leg injury in 2018, which required 17 surgeries.

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