Archive for the ‘Chris Draft’ Category

Team Draft Co-founder, Chris Draft Leads ACS Advantage Humans Campaign

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015


The spirit of the Society’s “Advantage Humans” campaign conveys the emotions inherent in each and every one of us to deal with the fight against cancer. Photographed and directed by two cancer survivors, the ad campaign brings to life the range of raw, powerful emotions – rage, anger, courage, hope, defiance and others – associated with cancer through the stories of real cancer survivors and their loved ones in print, digital and direct response ads. A few of the individuals featured include:

Chris Draft (National Cancer Advocate & former NFL player): Tenacity. In 2010, Chris’ wife Keasha was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer after never smoking a day in her life. They got married on November 27, 2011 and she passed away one month later – but on their wedding day, they made a promise that they would work as a team to inspire hope for everyone affected by cancer. He has committed his time and resources to raising awareness for cancer.

Isabel Lopez: Courage. At 15 years old, Isabel was diagnosed with T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma on her birthday. Her family and friends show their love and support for Isabel through her online movement #wedancewithIsa. As a dancer, Isabel knows that no one dances alone and just like this journey she is on, she continues to see the love from everyone around her.

Lauren Smoke: Hope. Lauren was diagnosed with breast cancer while she was pregnant with her first child. She is currently undergoing treatment and recently gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Niko, which means victory.

Chris Marquez: Defiance. Chris is an LA-based actor, model and screenwriter. He received a liver transplant several years ago, and was then diagnosed with liver cancer in the donor liver. He has since undergone chemotherapy and preventive surgery, and the cancer is isolated to his bladder.

There are a lot of victories in life – if you’re lucky you experience them every day in some small way,” said Lauren Smoke. “Some things get in the way, but hope is what gets you through everything. What would we do without hope?”

To learn more about the Society’s work in research, prevention and detection, advocacy and service to support patients and caregivers of all ages, at all stages of cancer, visit You can also visit the Society on Facebook.

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About the American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society is a global grassroots force of 2.5 million volunteers saving lives threatened by every cancer in every community. As the largest voluntary health organization, the Society’s efforts have contributed to a 22 percent decline in cancer death rates in the U.S. since 1991, and a 50 percent drop in smoking rates. We’re the nation’s largest private, not-for-profit investor in cancer research, ensuring people facing cancer have the help they need and continuing the fight for access to quality health care, lifesaving screenings, clean air, and more. For more information, to get help, or to join the fight, call us anytime, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit

Not just a smoker’s disease — Former NFL player raises awareness for lung cancer

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Lung cancer is often perceived as a smoker’s disease. But a hard look at lung cancer diagnosis data reveals that 45 percent of patients with the disease are former smokers, and an additional 15 percent never smoked at all.

For Chris Draft, a former San Francisco 49ers linebacker who also played for the Stanford football team, this last statistic is all too real.

His wife, Keasha Draft, never smoked. She was 37 in December 2010 when she was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. She died a year later, a month after she married Chris. According to the Chris Draft Family Foundation’s website, at the time of diagnosis, “her only ‘symptom’ was a slight shortness of breath a few days earlier.”

Typical symptoms of lung cancer are notoriously subtle and often do not appear until the late stages of the disease. They can range from a chronic cough to a slight shortness of breath or an ache in the back, chest or arm. As a result, only 16 percent of lung cancer patients are diagnosed when the cancer is still localized and easily treatable. There is also no current approved screening for early detection of lung cancer. This combination results in a devastatingly low the five-year survival rate.

According a National Cancer Institute study conducted from 1973 to 2008, the five-year survival rate for lung cancer is 16.3 percent—significantly lower than colon cancer (65.2 percent), breast cancer (90 percent), and prostate cancer (99 percent).

However, lung cancer research is also underfunded compared to these other cancers. According to a 2012 American Cancer Society study, lung cancer causes more deaths than the next three most fatal cancers—colon, cancer, and prostate—combined. However, it receives significantly less federal funding than the other three. Breast cancer alone received five times more federal funding than lung cancer in 2011, according to the Lung Cancer Foundation of America.

According to Draft, lung cancer research is underfunded because of the overemphasis on the link between the disease and smoking.

“All you see is a prevention message,” Draft said. “People think that guys who don’t smoke don’t get lung cancer.”

Draft and his wife launched Team Draft at their wedding in November 2011, hoping to use Keasha’s story to change the face of lung cancer, and to prevent it from being labeled a “smoker’s disease.”

Since Team Draft’s inception, Draft has visited over 80 medical centers nationwide.

“I wanted to find out what was being done, out there, in the field,” Draft said. “And who better to go to than the doctors?”

Draft is not only concerned with educating the public about the devastating effects of lung cancer, but also of the efforts being made to fight the disease. He says he hopes to motivate the public donate money and advocate for more lung cancer research.

“The key is hope,” Draft said emphatically. “With every cancer center that we’ve visited, there’s change. Changes, even changes that are small, are cause for hope.”

Last Tuesday, Draft visited Stanford Hospital. Prior to his visit, the medical center had never offered a tour of its newest lung cancer treatment facilities to anyone but government officials.

“We don’t do this for everyone, with this many physicians,” Whitney Greene, the service line administrator for the oncology department, said. “We did it for [Draft] because of his connection to Stanford and the 49ers, as well as his efforts to spread lung cancer awareness.”

Although the prognosis for lung cancer patients is still grim, new technology and treatment techniques have surfaced in disease research. Stanford Hospital is currently collaborating with the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, originally named Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, to devise the next line of linear accelerators machines to use in treating lung cancer.

The newest linear acceleration device, the Cyberknife, has the ability to track the tumor’s movement throughout the treatment procedure, while firing targeted radiation beams at the tumor. This device increases accuracy in comparison to previous radiation techniques, where tumors were not tracked during the treatment procedure.

The hospital has also made improvements in the patients’ comfort and quality of life. Among other developments, oral medication replaces certain treatments that require time in the hospital, and mesh face masks are now used in place of uncomfortable metal head-clamps that keep patients still while receiving treatment.

“Maybe [this campaign] can extend [a lung cancer patient's] life for two years more,” Draft said. “Some people think, oh, it’s only two years. But when you put it in perspective of your mom, your kids; it’s a different two years. Those two years are worth fighting for.”

New Genetic Testing Gives Researchers New Tool to Fight Cancer

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

In the game of football, players face tough opponents, and former NFL linebacker Chris Draft knows what it means to play hard. That’s why his new game plan is to beat lung cancer. “What we’ve found consistently is there is hope for lung cancer,” Draft said.  READ MORE



Fox Carolina — Discussing the State of Lung Cancer Treatment in Greenville, SC from TEAM DRAFT on Vimeo.

Former NFL player starts cancer foundation after losing wife to disease

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

At his wedding, a former NFL player announced his new foundation to fight cancer. A month later, his wife lost her battle with cancer.
This Monday, doctors and scientists move in to the new Cancer Research Center on Tulane Avenue, and that former football player says this is as big as the Super Bowl…Read More


Team Draft Tours OHSU

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013


A former NFL linebacker came to Portland to see how researchers at Oregon Health & Science University are bringing new hope to cancer patients.

Chris Draft lost his wife to lung cancer in 2011. Before she died, the couple launched Team Draft to raise money and awareness to fight the disease.

Keasha Draft was not a smoker. Experts say nearly 60 percent of newly diagnosed lung cancer patients are former smokers or have never smoked.

Chris Draft said he was inspired by what he saw at OHSU’s Knight Cancer Institute Thursday.

He talked to scientists who are working to test DNA so they can determine which cancer drugs work best for each patient.

“It really brings a lot of hope to patients right now and to future patients,” he said.

Chris Draft played in the NFL from 1998 to 2009 on six different teams, including the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers.

Copyright 2013 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

The Face of Lung Cancer — Eugene Polk

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Eugene Polk, Jr. (Rickey) , the oldest child of eight of Chris’s grandmother , Lottie Harden Polk, was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer in August 2001 and died 9 months later, missing the birth of his first grandchild by four months.

Rickey was a Vietnam War veteran who served as a registered nuclear medicine technician in Germany and stateside at Walter Reed Army Hospital. Upon his discharge from the Army, he continued his training, eventually serving as the Director of Nuclear Medicine at Menorah Medical Center in Overland Park, Kansas.

For Rickey By- Pat (Polk) Sims

As at birth

The same at death

You struggle for life giving breath.

I watch your chest rise—but it doesn’t fall

For what seems like minutes, and I want to call

A doctor a nurse anyone who can make you breathe

And then… the gentle sound of exhaled air…you’re still here,

Though no one knows for how long.

This journey started nine months ago and at that time

We weren’t aware that it was the dawn of a life change,

The birth of an unwelcome addition to the family

That would trigger a fight filled with minor successes

Sandwiched between major setbacks, and intrusive thoughts of

“This might be our last Christmas…

You’ll never see your grandchildren…

How will Mama survive your death?”

You tried to shelter us from the truth,

Never knowing that we knew what you were up against and

Wanted to love you and believe with you

That you would beat this adversary that didn’t fight fair,

That you would be the one to survive and that

Your treatment would set a precedent that could save lives.

We became well versed in platins and T-cell counts and

Potential chemical trials and reflexology.

When you were no longer able to walk

We learned how to safely transfer you to and from your bed–

And I remember apologizing when for the first time I, the little sister,

Helped you, the big brother use the restroom

And how we rejoiced when the session ended with a big success—

You hated to admit it but the prune juice worked and

We laughed so hard we cried as we ceremoniously flushed away the “eel”!

And now it’s come to this, watching your chest rise and fall

And not wanting to admit that a ventilator

Is doing the work that you can no longer do

And that now your kidneys are shutting down

And that you are still here only by the grace of God and the power of your will.

So, I kiss you and sing to you and tell you it’s okay to stop fighting and to leave us…

You struggle for life giving breath

As at birth

And so at death.

Repond and Donate Today

Team Draft Visits GHS Cancer Center

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

Augusta, GA — Former Falcons and Panthers linebacker Chris Draft had some struggles on the field as a journeyman in the NFL. He played for 7 teams in 12 seasons including the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers. But it was nothing compared to what he faced shortly after retiring.
This December, his wife Keisha died of lung cancer, just one month after the two were married.

Now Draft spends his time traveling around the country raising awareness about lung cancer and also hopefully lifting the spirits of those battling the deadly disease.

On Friday, Draft paid a visit to the GHS Cancer Center in Augusta. He says he hopes the patients can try to find some joy in their lives despite what they’re going through.

Team Draft is leading a National Campaign to Change the Face of Lung Cancer, and has visited over 45 Centers across the United States, and Canada. Our blog, The Draft Report is our way of sharing the stories of the amazing doctors and researchers who are working diligently to save lives, and improve the chances of people affected by cancer. Please help us continue the FIGHT! Respond! IT TAKES A TEAM TO TACKLE LUNG CANCER!

Team Draft and Team LIVESTRONG® Challenge Series Heads to Philadelphia to Champion Cancer Survivors

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Team Draft and Team LIVESTRONG® Challenge Series Heads to Philadelphia to Champion Cancer Survivors.  Lance Armstrong to Participate in Run and Ride at Seventh Annual Philly Challenge and Chris Draft to Serve as Keynote Speaker and Participate in Run.

The 2012 Team LIVESTRONG Challenge Series will return to Philadelphia Aug. 18-19 for the seventh time. The two-day event includes a 5K or 10K walk/run on Saturday and a multi-distance bike ride on Sunday, with distances ranging from 20-100 miles, providing options for a wide-range of fitness levels. Lance Armstrong, cancer survivor, cycling champion and founder and chairman of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, will attend the weekend’s events and participate in both the run and ride. Chris Draft, former NFL linebacker and founder of the Chris Draft Family Foundation (CDFF), will participate in the run and serve as the keynote speaker at the fundraising dinner on Saturday.

“I am looking forward to joining our enthusiastic and dedicated supporters for the seventh annual Team LIVESTRONG Challenge in Philly,” said Armstrong. “This weekend is a great opportunity for us to unite in the fight against cancer and actively support the 28 million people affected by cancer worldwide.”

Team Draft, an initiative of the CDFF launched by Draft and his late wife Keasha during Keasha’s year-long battle with Stage IV Lung Cancer, is leading a national campaign to change the face of lung cancer by shattering the misconception that lung cancer is a “smoker’s disease.”

“Cancer came into my house, and it took my wife. Too many families are affected by this horrible disease. It’s time to respond,” said Draft. “That’s why Keasha and I launched Team Draft. She wanted to be an inspiration to those battling the disease and we wanted to raise awareness so that other families wouldn’t have to go through what we went through. Team Draft is committed to changing the face of lung cancer, but it takes a team to tackle cancer, and we are proud to work with the Lance Armstrong Foundation for this year’s Team LIVESTRONG Challenge.”

The Team LIVESTRONG Challenge is the Foundation’s popular three-part series in Team LIVESTRONG’s roster of more than two-dozen athletic events designed to raise funds for the fight against cancer. The Challenge inspires and empowers individuals, teams, families, friends and co-workers to unite in the fight against the world’s leading cause of death. One hundred percent of participant and donor gifts to the LIVESTRONG Challenge series go directly to support cancer programs and initiatives. Since 1997, the Challenge events have raised more than $70 million.

In the 2011 Philly Challenge, more than 5,000 participants raised more than $2.6 million for the fight against cancer. To date, the LIVESTRONG Challenge Philly has raised more than $16 million since 2006. Philadelphia will be the second stop in this year’s series, which kicked off in Davis, Calif. in June and ends in Austin, Texas on Oct. 21. The Philly Challenge takes place at Montgomery County Community College. Those interested in registering can visit

About the Lance Armstrong Foundation
The Lance Armstrong Foundation serves people affected by cancer and empowers them to take action against the world’s leading cause of death. With its iconic yellow LIVESTRONG wristband, the Foundation became a symbol of hope and inspiration to people affected by cancer throughout the world. Created in 1997 by cancer survivor and champion cyclist Lance Armstrong, the Foundation provides free patient navigation services to survivors with financial, emotional and practical challenges that accompany the disease. Known for its powerful brand – LIVESTRONG – the Foundation is also a leader in the global movement on behalf of 28 million people living with cancer today. Since its inception in 1997, the Foundation has raised nearly $500 million for the fight against cancer. For more information, visit

Team Draft is leading a National Campaign to Change the Face of Lung Cancer, and has visited over 45 Centers across the United States, and Canada. Our blog, The Draft Report is our way of sharing the stories of the amazing doctors and researchers who are working diligently to save lives, and improve the chances of people affected by cancer. Please help us continue the FIGHT! RespondIT TAKES A TEAM TO TACKLE LUNG CANCER!

Chris Draft Pushes for Lung Cancer Death Decrease, in Honor of Late Wife

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Linebacker Chris Draft tackled tough for several NFL teams—and played to win. But, when the Redskins released him in 2010, he faced an opponent he couldn’t beat.

His fiancée, Keasha, who had never smoked, had stage four lung cancer.

Last November, chronicled in a poignant video that went viral, the two got married. With a beautiful white dress and an oxygen tank, Keasha walked the final few steps, and she and Chris exchanged vows.

Exactly one month later, Keasha died. She was 38.

Now Draft is a man on a mission, meeting with lung cancer groups and lobbying Congress to pass the “Lung Cancer Mortality Reduction Act,” which calls for the government to come up with a plan to cut lung cancer deaths in half by 2020.

This year alone, 160,000 Americans will die of lung cancer—by far the biggest cancer killer of all.

Even though smoking is the number one cause, the lung cancer alliance says the 60 percent of new lung cancer cases are people who quit—many decades ago—and 20 percent never smoked.

Charity Spotlight—Team Draft

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Ex-NFL linebacker Chris Draft knows about fighting for air, not due to smoking or a high altitude climb but because he lives with asthma that often landed him in the hospital. As much as he appreciated each breath during his football years, the fight behind it grew crystal clear when Keasha, his love at the time was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. She became the surprising face of lung cancer at age 37.

Keasha, once a Charlotte Hornets Honeybee dancer and a member of the Clemson University Rally Cat dance squad, struggled for breath and fought to dance, smile, and live even as her body weakened.

According to the CDC, more people die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer. Roughly 200,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer yearly (tens of thousands of them never smoked) and about 150,000 die from the disease each year. Its virulence tends to cause death within months rather than years. That is why Keasha and Draft could no longer allow their busy schedules and other priorities to interfere with their relationship.

They met in 2006 when Draft played for the Carolina Panthers. He moved on to the Rams team in 2007 and the Bills a couple of years later, and then the Bears, which made time with Keasha periodic. Retirement from the Washington Redskins in 2010 finally brought them together full time. Soon Keasha would learn about her advanced lung cancer. Eight months after the diagnosis, Draft asked for her hand in marriage. He wanted to spend every remaining breath with her as husband and wife, be it a day or a second.

On November 27, 2011, they sat side by side to solidify their union and stood side by side to solidify their fight against lung cancer with the launch of Team Draft, dedicated to raising lung cancer awareness and increasing badly needed research funding by shattering misconceptions about lung cancer as strictly a “smoker’s disease,” self-inflicted by poor life choices. Keasha, who never smoked, died of lung cancer in December 2011 after just five weeks of marriage.

In February, Team Draft, under the Chris Draft Family Foundation, took its campaign national in honor of Keasha’s courage during life. The organization issued a challenge to all current and former NFL players and fans to support the campaign by using social media to spread lung cancer awareness.

The website imparts trends in the prevention of lung cancer, the disease’s prevalence and mortality, and emerging treatments. It is a place to share personal stories and upcoming events by the Draft foundation and numerous partner organizations.

“Our national campaign to change the face of lung cancer,” said Draft, “gives us a frontline view of the state of lung cancer research and treatment in America. This is an exciting period in the history of lung cancer treatment. The use of state-of-the-art lung cancer screening techniques is reducing mortality rates by 20% in some groups, while cutting-edge, team-based multidisciplinary treatment procedures are improving the quality of life for lung cancer patients across the country.

“And,” added Draft, “thanks to advances in molecular tumor mutation testing, researchers and treating physicians are developing effective personal lung cancer treatments designed to extend and ultimately save lives.”

Early detection, as in the case of most cancers is critical. Symptoms may differ by individual or not appear at all. The more evident symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing that does not go away, coughing up blood, wheezing, chest pain, and repeated respiratory infections, such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

Better yet is lowering the risk of developing lung cancer by, as most Americans know, not smoking and by avoiding secondhand smoke. Less well known are the benefits of testing one’s home for radon gas and ionizing radiation, then correcting any problems. The CDC also recommends avoiding asbestos and any unnecessary medical radiation to the chest. Experts say treating chronic lung diseases and infections, likewise, can help, as does recognizing the risk of lung cancer increases with age and informing doctors of relevant family medical history.

“The key to making even greater strides (and alternatively saving lives) is funding,” concludes Draft, “but funding for lung cancer research is impacted by the “smoker’s disease” stigma. That’s why Team Draft is campaigning to change the face of lung cancer.”

Lung cancer can develop in anyone. Draft has taken this message nationwide to primary schools, universities, TV interviews, and to NBA and NCAA dance teams. During his stop in Philadelphia, he visited patients at Children’s Hospital and met members of the National Lung Cancer Partnership Pennsylvania chapter. He talked with students at the Philadelphia High School of Creative and Performing Arts about the importance of music and the use of music therapy to treat patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Similar stops were just made in Chicago and Northern California. Draft is now on route to the NFL’s Rookie Symposium in Canton, Ohio where he will speak to the latest rookie class about being leaders on the field and in the community. Along the way, this week’s schedule includes visits to Georgetown University’s Lombardi Cancer Center in Washington, DC and the Roswell Park Cancer Center in Buffalo, New York. Such top cancer research treatment centers can look to Team Draft for a platform to reach more Americans, in addition to funding that extends their work.

Chris Draft wants the public to know that any success he has is not achieved alone. Respond and Donate Today

Courtesy of  of the Philadelphia Charity Examiner