Team Draft determined to raise lung cancer awareness

June 08, 2012

Team Draft determined to raise lung cancer awareness
Team Draft determined to raise lung cancer awareness

Ex-Bears linebacker Chris Draft is slated to return to Chicago Sunday as part of “Team Draft’s” national campaign to change the face of lung cancer, the disease that claimed the life of Draft’s wife, Keasha, last December.

Team Draft, an initiative of the Chris Draft Family Foundation, is dedicated to raising lung cancer awareness and increasing badly needed research funding by shattering the misconception that lung cancer is a “smoker’s disease.” The fact is, anybody can get lung cancer.

Despite the fact that between 20,000 and 30,000 people who have never smoked—including Keasha—are diagnosed with lung cancer in the United States each year, the smoking stigma negatively impacts lung cancer research funding, which pales in comparison to funding for other major cancers and diseases. Team Draft is out to change all that.  

“If we can take away the stigma that says you have to be a smoker to get lung cancer, we have a real chance to educate people about the true nature of the disease,” Draft said.

Since Chris and Keasha launched Team Draft at their wedding last November, Team Draft has been on a mission to tackle cancer. Team Draft’s national campaign to raise public awareness and share the hope that now exists for people diagnosed with the disease has taken it to more than a dozen states and 30 of the top cancer research and treatment facilities in the country, including Northwestern University’s Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, Rush University Medical Center, and the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center.  

“Our hope is not only to positively impact research funding, but to improve the quality of life for those affected by lung cancer,” Draft said.  “We aren’t fighting against lung cancer, we’re fighting for people. That’s why we are leading this national campaign to change the face of lung cancer.”

On Sunday, Team Draft will celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day with thousands of cancer survivors, family, and friends at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University’s 19th Annual Cancer Survivors’ Celebration and Walk.

After the celebration, Team Draft will head to McCormick Place to attend the 48th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (“ASCO”).  At the meeting, Team Draft will speak with some of the leading lung cancer researchers and treating physicians in the world about the exciting advancements being made in early detection and treatment of the disease.  Later that evening, Team Draft will head to the Radisson Blu Aqua Chicago for the Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center’s ASCO Reception.

Draft was selected by the Bears in the sixth round of the 1998 draft out of Stanford, appearing in one game while spending most of his rookie year on the practice squad. He went on to play 11 more NFL seasons with the 49ers (1999), Falcons (2000-04), Panthers (2005-06), Rams (2007-08) and Bills (2009).