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It would be difficult for one person to stand out in a stadium with over 65,000 people. Let alone a young student wearing a Tom Brady shirt and a Buccaneers cap that didn't quite hide the scar that ran from the back of his head to the top of his neck.
However, Noah Reeb had a plan. He had a colourful sign stating, ‘TOM BRADY HELPED ME BEAT BRAIN CANCER’. A young women close by had lifted Noah so high so that the sign will stand out among the sea of other fans and spectator.
Bucs receiver Chris Godwin noticed Noah in the bleachers during Sunday's game against the Bears and advised Brady to turn around and have a look.
Brady and Noah had a connection, something he couldn't have understood at the time. Someone from Noah's extended family had informed Brady earlier this year about a then-9-year-old flag football player from Utah who was battling brain cancer and was a passionate TB12 fan.
Every week, a player of Brady's calibre receives plenty of questions like these, and there's only so many he can respond to, but this one appeared to strike a chord with him. Brady made a video that he shared on Instagram with Noah's mother, Jacque.
“Hey Noah, how are you doing? I just wanted to let you know I’m thinking about you,” Brady said in the video. “I know you’re one of my biggest fans in Utah, and I know you’ve got a great family that loves you and support your mom and dad and your siblings.
“And I just want to let you know I’m thinking about you, I’m with you, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Hang tough. You’re going to be great, I know it. Get well soon and take care, bye bye.”
Since Noah began experiencing severe headaches last December, it had been a hard road for the Reeb family. According to a recent Deseret News report, doctors initially thought the migraines were caused by hormones, but the Reebs wanted more testing done. Finally, in February, a walnut-sized tumour in Noah's brain was identified.
According to a Go Fund Me page, the tumour had vanished from pictures of Noah's brain by mid-May. There would be more radiation treatments to come, but a sense of relief, joy, and, happily, normalcy began to return to their lives. Plans for Noah to attend his first NFL game were part of his recuperation.
Brady went up to Noah's section in the bleachers after the Bucs beat the Bears 38-3 and gave him a new Bucs cap. The hat is part of the NFL's Crucial Catch partnership with the American Cancer Society, which focuses on early detection of cancer through routine check-ups. Noah's father, James, would later release a video diary of the day, beginning with their arrival at the stadium and ending with their contact with Brady.
“The significance of Tom Brady putting that hat on his scarred little head. Noah knows,” James Reeb wrote. “I know that sweet face and those big grateful tears. Gosh, I’m so overwhelmed and so grateful. God heard Noah’s prayers and somehow made this happen.
“We didn’t pull any strings; we didn’t have access to anything other than a pair of tickets so he could watch his hero play for the first time ever.”