Archive for the ‘A Survivor at Every Sports Venue’ Category

Mark P. Marini is Changing the Face of Lung Cancer

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

Thanks for selecting me as a Team Draft’s recipient as it was a special day for my wife and I and the owner of my company Anthony Cafaro Jr and his wonderful Gayle . I have been through quite a lot since my diagnosis in early June 2009. I’m a former smoker that quit in 1998 and became a fitness freak in 2001. I became passionate with running and took up competitive racing in both 5k’s and 10k’s at a local park in 2004 and was running about 30 races a year while running and training all year round . While on a six mile run after work with an attorney at my office, I thought that I felt good but on the way home I began to cough up fresh blood. I immediately went to my internist and following a week of testing team of doctors at the Cleveland Clinic, I was informed that I had lung cancer. My thoracic surgeon told me the next sixth months would be hell but I was in the best psychical condition of my life and I’m a type A personality with a great attitude so he told me I could beat this disease if I remained positive and upbeat . I did a split course treatment which was two “zaps” of radiation at 6:00 AM and 2:30, and then had chemotherapy on Mondays after radiation. Mondays were long as I left my house at 4:30 am and would return home at about 9:00PM. Luckily it was for only 12 treatments, but it was very exhausting . PS during those 12 days of treatment I ran about 4 miles at noon outside the Cleveland Clinic in between chemo and radiation treatments.

I then had surgery to remove my upper chamber of my left lung along with a portion of my lower lung. My thoracic surgeon prepared me by telling me it was the one of the most painful surgery’s known and he was not kidding. I got of the hospital in 5 days (normal stay was 6 to 8 days ) as I was determined to be normal . I was told most people take 2 months off on short term disability. I laughed when told that as I was working remote from my house about 10 days after my surgery. Although not moving very quickly I even walked a two mile fund raiser with my lovely wife about 16 days after my surgery. I was in the office about 16 days after my surgery.

After the surgery I had to finish up another round of radiation ( 2 weeks of double “zaps”) and chemotherapy for another three months . I’m proud to say, all while missing just a few days of work . I exercised 4 to 5 cardio sessions from the day I came home from my surgery also started weight lifting two times a week . And the reason I did all this was normalcy – most cancer patients just want to be normal and I was more determined than ever to make that happen !

I have been blessed by the following :1) a great support system in including my entire family but a special thanks to the following , my mother , my sisters, my sons and the true inspiration of my life my wife of 30 years as we have now been together 36 years. We met when I was I was a senior in high school and she was a freshman – she has been a rock thru this whole process and also our entire marriage 2) A great company that I work for called the Cafaro Company a private family owned by the same family since 1950 who gave me the greatest support and incredible medical coverage. The company owns and operates about 30,000, 000 square feet of mall and strip centers coast to coast 3 ) I was lucky and blessed to have one the top hospitals in the world a mere 60 miles from my home the world renowned Cleveland Clinic . My medical team consists of Dr Pennell oncologist, Dr Videdic radiologist, Dr Murthy thoracic surgeon, Dr Barnett neuro surgeon, and Dr Stevens neurologist. I termed them “the dream team of Doctors”. They were all so honest and compassionate with me which helped me thru the whole process.

Unfortunately the story doesn’t end there. I had three straight years of clean CT scans and my first of 2012 was clean back in March. I was losing some short memory and not finishing my thoughts so my Doctors wanted a MRI of my brain in late March. After a few tests, a malignant tumor was discovered on the left frontal lobe of my brain. I underwent brain surgery to remove the tumor and followed up with three weeks of radiation just to be safe. Again I missed about four days of work and was working remotely. I was back to work a couple of days later and traveling to a convention in Las Vegas only three weeks after my last radiation treatment (not really the brightest thing I ever did) .

The objective of this email is show you my plight and how with a great medical team, a great support system , and a great company I probably would not be here today writing this email . Again true special thanks to my wife , my “dream team” at the Clinic and not only the great Doctors but a staff from janitors , nurses, to physician assistants that are the best , most compassionate, well trained and positive employees in this country. Lastly to one the best organizations to work for in country the Cafaro Company in particular our Co President Anthony Cafaro Jr whose support, compassion, and caring nature are so heart felt and appreciated .

Now you can see how truly blessed that I am regardless what I have been through . My prognosis is very good and I have resumed full cardio activities, weight training at my gym about two months after my brain surgery. Yes I’m very lucky as I know that my faith and my God will always look over me and be there every step of the way .

I wake up every day which I consider a true blessing, Please feel free to pass this email along at either Chris Draft Foundation or the Cleveland Clinic. To all have great Holiday Season and Happy Healthy and Prosperous New Year. Hopefully I can meet Mr Draft thru my travels as it would be an honor to do so .

Mark Marini is Changing the Face of Lung cancer from TEAM DRAFT on Vimeo.


Natalie DiMarco is Changing the Face of Lung Cancer

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

A Young Mother’s Fight with Lung Cancer: a Story of Hope
By Aisha Avery

Meet Natalie DiMarco, a 34-year-old daughter, wife, and mother of two. She was born in San Francisco and raised in Tucson, Arizona. Her family returned to the Bay Area when she was a teenager. She attended Palo Alto High School where she played soccer and softball.

Before DiMarco learned she had lung cancer, she actively attended sporting events with her husband, Jim. She had also taken a break from teaching at an elementary school in San Jose. Her focus had become raising her two daughters.

“Do you want me to give you my whole story?” She asked at the beginning of our interview.

When meeting someone for the first time, typically you would expect them to tell you their personal history. When you meet a lung cancer survivor, their story becomes about their battle with the disease.

“I was diagnosed in March 2010, the same week my second daughter turned one and my other daughter was two-and-a-half,” DiMarco said.

What was initially thought to be asthma and a bad cough, turned out to be Stage IV lung cancer. “It took six months for me to get diagnosed,” she said. The cancer was diffused throughout her entire left lung.

She explained that she set out to tackle the disease immediately and traveled to speak with cancer centers across the country to learn the extent of what she was dealing with. The cancer had also spread to her lymph nodes which prevented her from being a candidate for pre-invasive surgery.

Her treatment strategy has been a collaborative effort of the doctors she has met with and is led by her primary oncologist, Dr. Heather Wakelee at Stanford Cancer Center. “We don’t just talk about what my treatment is now,” said DiMarco. “We’re always looking ahead of the situation.”

DiMarco is often asked if she was a smoker. Her answer is always: “No.”

“Unfortunately, lung cancer is a disease that can happen to people at all different ages and people with and without a history of smoking,” Dr. Wakelee explained.

“For people like Natalie who are young and don’t have a smoking history, it’s just as hard of an illness for everybody else so they have to deal with a lot of questions which is even harder in some ways.”

DiMarco is a few months away from her three year anniversary with lung cancer, but she is determined to beat it. She dreams of regaining full strength and having the stamina to get back to into the classroom as a helper. She said her daughters are her primary sources of hope.

“I encourage all of my patients to live with hope,” said Dr. Wakelee.

“By focusing on her belief that she is going to be okay and that she is going to be there to be the mom for her kids, Natalie’s been able to face this head on.”

DiMarco is using her story to increase awareness because she wants to help others. “It could be anyone,” she said. “People need to know the signs.”

Which is why attending and being honored at Candlestick Park in November when the San Francisco 49ers hosted the Chicago Bears was so special.

“Being able to attend that game with my husband was very important to me,” she shared. “Having the stamina to stand most of the game was a great accomplishment.”

Her attendance was part of a campaign led by Chris Draft, co-founder of Team Draft, to celebrate survivorship that took place at stadiums across the country. Draft said, “As a former 49er and Stanford Alum, I am so thankful for the 49ers support of Team Draft’s National Campaign to Change the Face of Lung Cancer in the Bay Area.”

DiMarco was one of 14 lung cancer survivors to attend an NFL game this November for National Lung Cancer Awareness month.

After 43 cycles of chemotherapy, the cancer that was once diffused throughout her left lung has now reduced to one spot. Considering that lung cancer survival rates are low and she was diagnosed after her cancer began to spread to her lymph nodes, her progress should indeed be celebrated.

She was able to go onto the field and even ran into an old classmate from Palo Alto, the 49ers’ defensive assistant and quality control coach Peter Hansen, who used to sit behind her in science class.

“When she told me, it took my breath away,” Hansen said. It was their first time seeing each other
since shortly after high school.

Like most who come in contact with DiMarco, Hansen was encouraged by her positive energy and
outlook. He said he felt positive about the direction she said her treatment was going.

DiMarco attributes her improvement to her treatment, a more positive attitude, a healthier lifestyle,
and the traditional Chinese medicine such as acupuncture, organ massage, and acupressure that she
began receiving from Dr. Angela Wu in San Francisco after she was diagnosed.

Dr. Wu has helped DiMarco focus on positive thinking. “We don’t talk about the fact that there is
cancer involved,” she explained. “We just focus on me getting healthier every day.”

Now that her cancer has been reduced down to one spot, DiMarco has been able to take a holiday
from chemotherapy after receiving a round of targeted radiation therapy last month. She is scheduled
for a scan in February to monitor her progress.

She has great hope for the lung cancer research efforts underway. “I know one day there will be a pill
designed for my tumor,” she said. “If it ever comes back, I’ll get to take it.”

DiMarco is encouraged by the 49ers’ support and Team Draft’s efforts. As a passionate advocate for
the cause, she is determined to spread her hope and play a role in increasing lung cancer awareness.

15 year old Lung Cancer Survivor Abby Wilson

Monday, January 21st, 2013

I’m Abby. I am 15 yrs. old. I have a rare form of pediatric lung cancer. But cancer is not who I am. I am a brave and strong girl. God has given me the BEST family & friends. I love to play with my little brother, Ian. He is 6 years old. He makes me laugh & forget that I have sick lungs. I get scared sometimes. But I know that I have to trust God no matter what.

Background Story

Abby is amazing!! She makes me want to be the mother that God has called me to be. We found out that Abby was born with a rare disorder, C.C.P.M., Congenital Cystic Pulmonary malformation. In most cases this type of cyst is large enough to see and is discovered very early on in pregnancy(between 7-34 weeks gestation). It is removed after birth and the child is fine. This is not the case for Abby. She was born with a tumor that was small enough to go undetected and until 5 years ago, didn’t cause any problems. The asthma that we had been treating since she was 3 was actually this disease. C.C.P.M. is normally removed and there are no further problems. In even more rare cases, like Abby, when C.C.P.M. is not found and treated it can then become Bronchoalveolar Carcinoma or B.A.C. (that’s what the doctors call it). In order for B.A.C. to appear, C.C.P.M. has to be present. B.A.C. in children appears favorable, meaning they should only need surgery to cure it. However, that is not the case for Abby. Here is where the complications come in. Our oncologist, Dr. Rapkin, had all the pathology samples sent to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, AFIP, in Washington, D.C. for review and they found that the larger mass is actually another form of cancer called Mucinous Adenocarcinoma. This is more aggressive than B.A.C. Meaning that this one mass has moved from a stage 1 non aggressive type of cancer to a stage 4 more aggressive type. It has started to infiltrate the surrounding tissue of the lung. This infiltration was found to be minor, in the beginning stage. But the cancer has spread to the right lung resulting in more than 30 tumors in both lungs. Abby has undergone several surgeries since April 2007,one in which her lower left lung was removed leaving her with only 1/4 of a functioning lung and in October 2007 she began intensive chemo treatments and continues to this day. In 2008 we found out that Abby’s cancer is caused by the K-Ras mutation gene which just complicates our journey more. This gene makes her Lung Cancer more resistant to treatment. The road ahead is long and confusing for us all. Abby is a trooper. Her smile reminds us that God is good. He is the one who holds our future and our hope. Abby’s life verse is Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you a HOPE and a future.” We live by these words… God’s promise of a HOPE & a FUTURE for our Abby!

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes” (Matthew 6:33-34). *** A friend has set up a medical fund for Abby at Piedmont Community Bank. All donations are to help with travel to Scottish Rite in Atlanta & medical cost that insurance doesn’t cover. If you feel lead, donations can be made checks payable to ‘Abby Wilson Medical Fund ‘ to- 315 River North Blvd Macon, GA. 31211. Thank you in advance for your gifts of love!!!!!

Abby Wilson is Changing the Face of Lung Cancer! from TEAM DRAFT on Vimeo.

Team Draft, Indianapolis Colts and IU Health are Changing the Face of Lung Cancer

Monday, January 7th, 2013

Just over three and half years ago, when Gregg Baumbaugh of Noblesville, Ind., came down with a runny nose and scratchy throat, a lung cancer diagnosis was the last thing he expected. But after antibiotics failed to clear a suspected case of pneumonia, a chest X-ray revealed a 5 cm tumor on his left lung and Gregg was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer (Adenocarcinoma).

Having never smoked, Gregg was shocked. Though it’s a common misconception that lung cancer is a “smoker’s disease,” between 20,000-30,000 people who have never smoked are diagnosed in the United States each year.
Breaking the stigma against lung cancer and encouraging more research funding are two primary goals of the Chris Draft Family Foundation. As part of a national campaign to change the face of the disease, the Draft foundation invited lung cancer patients and physicians to NFL games across the country this fall.
On Dec. 30, as Indianapolis Colts Coach Chuck Pagano headed back to the field after battling a cancer diagnosis of his own, Gregg cheered on the team from the stands. He was also joined by Dr. DuyKhanh Ceppa, a thoracic surgeon and director of IU Health’s lung cancer screening program.

Surgery and four rounds of chemotherapy treatment at IU Health – home to the state’s only NCI- designated patient care cancer center – allowed Gregg to achieve remission for nearly three years. When a scan in August 2012 showed it had returned and spread into the other lung, he started a new regimen on Xalkori (crizotinb), an oral ALK (anaplastic lymphoma kinase) growth inhibitor following his daughter’s wedding in September.

Roughly a month later, on Halloween, a new scan showed no detectable tumors. “I’m not sure his doctor didn’t do a cartwheel in the hall,” said Gregg’s wife. “He was just beaming!”
Despite dramatic increases in overall cancer survival rates, the five-year survival rate for lung cancer is less than 25 percent – a rate that has changed very little since the 1970’s. But recent research advancements are inspiring hope, said Dr. Ceppa.

For instance, lung cancer screening using low dose helical CT scans have been shown to reduce mortality rates by up to 20 percent in heavy smokers. And thanks to molecular tumor mutation testing, physicians are able to tailor chemotherapy regimens to specific mutations present in some lung cancers.

However, there remains a lot that needs to be investigated and discovered about lung cancer detection and treatment, which requires funding that is largely impacted by the “smoker’s disease” stigma. For current and future lung cancer patients across the country, Team Draft and IU Health are campaigning to change the face of lung cancer.

Changing the Face of Lung Cancer : Huddling Up with a Treatment Game Plan

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

Football was a major part of Jim Hatfield’s life so it was only natural that it was part of his successful journey through lung cancer too.

Hatfield and his doctor, Craig Kovitz, M.D., assistant professor of general oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center who cares for patients at MD Anderson Regional Care Center in the Bay Area, bonded over football at their first visit four years ago when Hatfield was first diagnosed.

Their football link continues today even though the two only see each other twice a year for follow-up visits.

In November, thanks to the Chris Draft Family Foundation, Hatfield and Kovitz had the opportunity to watch the Houston Texans play the Jacksonville Jaguars on beautiful Houston afternoon, and compare notes on football and life. Their families enjoyed the time together too, with Dr. Kovitz’s young daughter, Allie, taking in her first professional football game and Hatfield’s wife, Laurie, having the chance to sit in the stands with her husband, a former high school football coach who typically roamed the sidelines.

For Hatfield, the 1998 Houston Chronicle Coach of the Year, Kovitz was his “head coach” during his lung cancer treatment which included radiation and chemotherapy.

“The treatment can knock you down, but you just have to get back up and keep going, just like in football,” said Hatfield, who successfully coached high school football in Texas for 32 years. “Dr. Kovitz guided me through everything and told me, ‘This is what we’re doing and we believe it’s going to work.’ I had total confidence in him and the team around me.”

“It was truly a blessing for my daughter Allie and me to spend an afternoon watching football with Mr. Hatfield and his lovely wife. So often people inquire about what I do and how I deal with so much struggle and grief pervading my day, but it’s moments like the ones I was able to share with Coach Hatfield that make it all worth it. To see a man fight so hard and have such faith that ultimately brings him through a battle with lung cancer is the inspiration that carries me.”

It was when Dr. Kovitz told Hatfield that he only needed to see him twice a year, that Hatfield knew he was a survivor. Though Hatfield is cancer free, he has some lingering side effects from the treatment.

“Have faith in the health care team you have around you. Whether you are an athlete or a patient, you have to trust each other,” said Hatfield, who played quarterback in high school in Kansas. “Look for that team of doctors, nurses, radiation therapists and others, and don’t be satisfied until you have the right team assembled.”

A Survivor at Every Game: The St. Louis Rams Support The Campaign to Change the Face of Lung Cancer During Lung Cancer Awareness Month

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

A nonsmoker who regularly works out, Dan Friedman wasn’t the stereotypical person at risk for lung cancer. Yet there he was in 2011, at age 43, hearing he had the disease.

“It was a shock,” says the married father of three. “Unfortunately, I discovered that lung cancer can attack almost anyone.”

Friedman’s story is more typical than many people think. Factors, including a family history of the disease and exposure to secondhand smoke or asbestos, are also threats.

Broadening people’s understanding of lung cancer is an important goal of the Chris Draft Family Foundation. As part of a national campaign to change the face of the disease, the Draft foundation invited lung cancer patients and physicians to NFL games across the country on Nov. 18. Friedman attended a St. Louis Rams game with his wife, Kelly Corday, and their children Mary, 16, and Jon, 14. (Another son, Daniel, 21, is in the U.S. Air Force, serving in Japan.) Siteman medical oncologist Maria Baggstrom, MD, met Friedman’s family at the game.

“Lung cancer has changed our lives, but we don’t let it control everything we do,” Friedman says. “I continue to work, work out and spend meaningful time with my wife and kids.”

Chris Draft, the former Rams linebacker who founded the nonprofit, lost his wife, Keasha, to lung cancer last year. She also was a nonsmoker. The foundation’s “Survivor at Every Game” campaign is meant to educate people about the misconception that lung cancer is only a smoker’s disease and encourage more funding for lung cancer research.

“The need for public awareness is critical, and efforts like this make a big difference,” Draft says. “Building awareness is the first step in accelerating the search for a cure.”

Friedman, who was diagnosed with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer in May 2011, has found hope through prayer and his treatment at Siteman. A gene study showed he had the EGFR mutation. Fortunately, a drug called Tarceva had been approved as a first-line treatment for lung cancer patients with the mutation. This meant Friedman’s treatment would be simpler than traditional chemotherapy and most likely more effective because the drug targets a mutation within cancer cells more accurately.

Donate Today as Team Draft’s leads a National Campaign to Changing the Face of Lung Cancer

A Survivor at Every Game: The Washington Redskins Support The Campaign to Change the Face of Lung Cancer During Lung Cancer Awareness Month

Sunday, November 18th, 2012


I am Colonel Jeffrey E. Smith and I retired from the United States Air Force as the Commander, Defense Contract Management Agency of Chicago on 30 June 2006, after 26 years of distinguished military service. Upon my retirement I was given a clean bill of health and was looking forward to this new chapter of my life. I was thrilled with the prospect of spending more time with my wife and three sons. My wife and I had planned the places we intended to visit, the time we would spend with our sons and grandchildren and opening up the next chapter of our lives. We eagerly anticipated the change after I had spent so much of my time away from my family throughout my career.

Then without any warning and just one year after I had left the military, things went horribly wrong. Of course, at first I had no idea of the signs I was being given. I had developed a cough that would not go away. Finally, I decided to seek medical attention. This still did not reveal anything which caused worry. The doctor prescribed antibiotics and we both thought that would be the end of it. Of course, the antibiotics did not work and I returned to the doctor’s office. My primary care physician then told me that sometime a stronger antibiotic was required. I was not alarmed and proceed to fill and take the new medication. After the second set of antibiotics did not work, the doctor sent me for an x-ray. This showed an abnormality and I was referred to a specialist. The specialist ordered a full set of tests. My evaluation included CT scan, PET scan, MRI, and end bronchial examination of my airways. After a month of test and biopsies, I was told I had lung cancer. How could this be, I had NEVER smoked in my entire life and I constantly counseled others to stop smoking. I exercised regularly and took pride in the fact that I beat many of the younger airmen on the base during the 1.5 mile run. I was conscientious to eat a healthy diet and get a physical when required. How, could I be facing a diagnosis of lung cancer?

At the age of 50, with the support of my family, I began chemotherapy for the treatment of stage IV lung cancer. Stage IV, the highest stage, has a prognosis of 8 to 10 months. At the time, I did not know this and was informed by the doctor that I could only expect to live another 2 to 3 pursing treatment. I was told the chemotherapy would be as bad as or worse than the disease. At best, it would only to help ease my symptoms and at worst it would make me feel even worse with no benefit. In short, I was told there was no hope and I needed to get my affairs in order.

My desire for life, my love for my family and my faith would not allow me to accept this prognosis. I decided to pursue chemotherapy. The chemotherapy consisted of carboplatin, paclitaxel and bevacizumab. The drugs left me exhausted, nauseated and stole my energy. After six weeks I had my first CT scan, and the results showed that the cancer was responding. Responding in such a manner that the doctor said only occurred with about 10% of patients. I began to feel encouraged and started to believe I might be able to beat this. This fight lasted for only a short 6 months. I grew more fatigued and my toes turned black and my fingernails begin to slough off. I was told the chemotherapy was no longer working and there were no standard drugs the doctor could prescribe. The doctor recommended that I explore a clinical trial and suggested I should seek treatment at Walter Reed. This advice was one of the many blessings I have enjoyed over the course of my treatment.

While this first door had closed, my family and my faith helped to sustain me. After my evaluation at Walter Reed, I knew I was with the right medical team. They began to discuss further testing of my tumor and that they would manage my disease in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute at the National Institute of Health. The team is at the forefront of cancer research. More importantly, in my mind, they know that the patient requires more than care of the disease. The doctors, nurses and administrative staff provide a level of care that lets you know they care about you as an individual. Care for your spirit is every bit as important as care for your body!

A key change occurred about a year into my treatment. My tumor underwent molecular testing. Now, my treatment could be tailored to my particular disease. I was no longer given chemo that indiscriminately just attacked any cell. My chemo was now carefully selected based on the characteristics of the cancer Jeff Smith is battling. This testing showed that my tumor was overexpressing a protein, HER2/neu. This protein was first discovered in breast cancer and the discoveries in breast cancer have allowed my physicians to continue to target this protein in the treatment of my cancer. I have been on several chemotherapies over the years and remain on chemotherapy today, but my therapy is always targeted. I have been treated at both Walter Reed and the NIH participating in clinical trials and in just getting what Walter Reed calls the standard of care, although I am aware that there is nothing standard about this care. Today, we celebrate surviving lung cancer. I am a veteran and a 5-year survivor of metastatic lung cancer.

Team Draft was kind enough to send me to see my hometown team, the Washington Redskins. I was able to celebrate this day with my oncologist from Walter Reed, Dr. Corey A. Carter. We had a wonderful day and I hope my story can bring hope to others.

Donate Today as Team Draft’s leads a National Campaign to Changing the Face of Lung Cancer

A Survivor at Every Game: The Atlanta Falcons Support The Campaign to Change the Face of Lung Cancer During Lung Cancer Awareness Month

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

Tuesday, August 2, 2005, at the age of 40 years and in seemingly excellent health, an evening commuter came crashing into my SUV. I quickly phoned 911. Within moments there were lights and sirens coming from every direction. The paramedics gently placed me onto a straight board and took me to the local hospital where I underwent a variety of tests to verify the extent of my injuries. By the time the tests were completed the ER room I had been assigned to was filled with my family and our family doctor, Dr. Ayisha Gani. After a few hours of x-rays and tests the ER doctor told me he had “…good news and bad news”. He went on to say with surprise, “The good news is that there are no injuries, no fractures, nothing whatsoever as a result of the car accident.” Everyone was relieved, for a moment. “The bad news is there is something in your lower right lobe the size of my fist; we need to do some tests…” Dr. Gani, my personal physician explained to me that she was admitting me for additional tests which would more than likely involve a biopsy the following day.

The next day I had a biopsy performed and remained in the hospital while other family members made their way to Georgia. It was Thursday afternoon that Dr. Gani came to my hospital room with all of my family in the room and told me the news and said, “The biopsy results are in; there is a tumor growing in the lower right lobe; it has to come out right away, you have lung cancer.” I was shocked to hear this and asked if this was accurate. I asked her how this could have happened. Me? I never smoked and neither did my parents. How could I get lung cancer? I was then told it was the fastest growing type of cancer cell, Adenocarcenoma. I had lung cancer. I never smoked and neither did my parents.

Later that evening my three sons were brought to my hospital room. They were 12, 14 & 16 years old at the time. I proceeded to remind them of the phrase they had heard throughout their life, “God works in mysterious ways”. As I reminded them of this phrase I repeated for them the sequences e of events that had played out over the past two days. I wanted to protect them from any unknown fears that the word “cancer” is typically associated with. They understood that surgery would be required and that the accident was one of “God’s mysterious ways” of letting me know there was something wrong inside me.

Two weeks later, at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Dr. John E. Moore performed the 14-hour surgery that would save my life. Dr. Moore removed the orange sized tumor from the middle and lower lobe of my right lung and 31 of my lymph nodes. At the time I was staged as “1b” but several years later a second pathology report indicated that I was actually at Stage III due to activity in a lymph node. After 8 weeks of recovering from major surgery Dr. Moore installed a mediport which was the method of receiving 12 weekly treatments of chemotherapy (taxol & carboplatin) under the care of Dr. Thomas Seay of Atlanta Cancer Care. As of 12.30.05, my last chemo treatment, I have had no other cancer related issues. I continue to be closely monitored and screened.

I am a miracle. If it had not been for the auto accident I would not have known about the tumor in my lung. The cancer would more than likely have spread which would have been “too late” for treatment and I would have died in the spring of 2006. I am so blessed!

Join Team Draft’s National Campaign Respond and Donate Today as we Change the Face of Lung Cancer!

A Survivor at Every Game: The Oakland Raiders Support Campaign to Change the Face of Lung Cancer During Lung Cancer Awareness Month

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Jim Conwell, 71, would never have known he had lung cancer if weren’t for his wife suggesting he get screened for exposure to Agent Orange at the local Veteran’s Administration health facility. It was then, in 2010, that the Vietnam veteran learned he had lung cancer. A VA physician told him he would need his chest opened surgically for removal of the tumors from his lung. As luck would have it, the VA surgeon assigned to his case was deployed to Afghanistan, and Conwell sought another opinion from the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. There, thoracic surgeon David Tom Cooke performed a minimally invasive surgery and successfully removed the diseased part of his lung without having to open his chest. Nearly two years later, Conwell said he feels great, and is back to writing music and enjoying his retirement with his wife, children and grandchildren. Respond and Donate Today

JIm Conwell is Tackling Lung Cancer from TEAM DRAFT on Vimeo.

A Survivor at Every Game: The Detroit Lions Support The Campaign to Change the Face of Lung Cancer During Lung Cancer Awareness Month

Friday, November 16th, 2012

When you’ve never smoked, being told you have lung cancer comes as a shock. That was the case with Geraldine Carter two years ago when she received the devastating news – stage 4 lung cancer.

Carter had been fighting lung sarcoidosis for several years, a disease in which small patches of inflamed cells can appear on the lungs’ small air sacs, breathing tubes or lymph nodes, causing her to cough. When her coughing persisted, she naturally thought it was the sarcoidosis. Her family encouraged her to see a pulmonologist, which she did. Test results showed Carter had a tumor on her lung and the pulmonologist recommended she see a lung cancer expert.

“When I was first told I had lung cancer, I was mad,” said Carter. “I didn’t want my husband Willie see how upset I was so I would get into the shower and just cry. Then, I’d say to myself, I had my pity party and now it’s time to get on with it.”

It was Nov. 2010 when Carter first met with Shirish M. Gadgeel, M.D., leader of the Thoracic Multidisciplinary Team at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Center in Detroit, Michigan. Carter’s lung cancer had already spread to her lymph nodes.

“From the moment I met Dr. Gadgeel he didn’t miss a beat,” said Carter. “He never talks about how much time I have but instead focuses on me and how we’re going to treat my disease. I knew immediately he was going to do the very best for me and he continues to do that.”

Carter added, “When people hear you have lung cancer they assume you smoke and therefore you deserve your disease. I don’t smoke. Anyone can get cancer. It’s a disease, not a reflection of who you are.”

Dr. Gadgeel explained there is a stigma associated with lung cancer and not everyone who is diagnosed with this disease smokes.

“Certainly, the best thing for your health is not to smoke or be around second-hand smoke which can also increase the risk of lung cancer,” said Dr. Gadgeel.

“Many people who are diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked. Mrs. Carter doesn’t smoke and her mother who also had lung cancer didn’t smoke. We must continue to build awareness and understanding about lung cancer. Early detection saves lives and supporting cancer research will help advance new therapies to treat this disease and other cancers.”

Carter has been on different therapies since she was first diagnosed, including 20 rounds of radiation.

“It’s been difficult at times due to the impact on your body but I’m not giving up,” said Carter. “Every day is different and you need to listen to your body. I’m so grateful that my husband has been with me every step of the way, attending every appointment with me. The team at the Karmanos Cancer Center is so compassionate – they care about you and your family. They are dedicated and committed to doing all they can for each patient.”

“Mrs. Carter is a gentle soul with a strong will to live,” said Dr. Gadgeel. “I’m constantly inspired by her and all of our patients with metastasized disease who volunteer to go on clinical trials to help determine new therapies to advance cancer research. They teach us so much and their contribution to cancer research will continue to help other patients for decades to come.”

The Karmanos Cancer Center is one of 41 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the nation and one of only two in Michigan. It’s world-renown Clinical Trials Program conducts 700 different trials at any given time, offering cancer patients ground-breaking treatments that can lead to better outcomes.

Thanks to the generosity of the Detroit Lions and the Chris Draft Family Foundation’s Team Draft Changing the Face of Lung Cancer campaign, Carter, her husband Willie and her oncologist Dr. Gadgeel were invited to attend the Nov. 18 Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers game at Ford Field in Detroit. The last time Carter attended a Detroit Lions game was three years earlier, before she was she was diagnosed with lung cancer.

The sold-out crowd and close scoring game electrified the stadium. An avid sports fan, Carter said her favorite player has to be Wide Receiver Calvin Johnson. Although the Detroit Lions lost the game by just a few points, they scored big with Carter, giving her the opportunity to enjoy life and experience another exciting Detroit Lions game – with her husband and physician by her side.

Carter expressed, “Cancer does not define you. I’m still the same person I was before I was diagnosed with lung cancer and I try to not let this disease stop me from living my life.

“You have to have hope. We never know what tomorrow will bring so we need to do what we can while we’re here. We’re put on this earth not to give in, but to give out.”

Former NFL player Chris Draft is the founder, president, and CEO of the Chris Draft Family Foundation. Team Draft was created by Chris and his wife Keasha during Keasha’s year-long struggle with lung cancer. Keasha, an energetic vibrant young woman who had never smoked, was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in December 2010. On November 27, 2011, standing side-by-side at their wedding, Chris and Keasha launched Team Draft. One month later, Keasha lost her courageous fight at the age of 38.

Team Draft is dedicated to raising lung cancer awareness and enhancing the importance of critical funding for lung cancer research by shattering the misconception that lung cancer is a “smoker’s disease.” Working with NFL teams and cancer centers across the country, Team Draft’s National Campaign is Changing the Face of Lung Cancer! Repond and Donate Today 

BY: Patricia Ellis