Archive for the ‘News and Media’ Category

Super Bowl, Pro Bowl Trips For Cancer Patients Who Are Great At Fundraising

Friday, January 8th, 2016

DENVER (CBS4) – The teams have yet to be determined, but one Broncos fan already knows she’s going to the Super Bowl. Another will travel to the Pro Bowl. The trips are prizes for being the top two fundraisers for a very personal cause. The women are fighters. Both have been battling lung cancer.

Kim Ringen, a veterinarian oncologist, discovered she had Stage IV lung cancer in 2013 using an ultrasound in her veterinary office. The nonsmoker was five months pregnant.
“We unfortunately had to let our son go in order to fight for my life,” Ringen said choking back tears.

Figure body builder Kathy Weber is also a neonatal nurse practitioner. In 2014, she learned she had lung cancer. She was shocked.

“Considered a never smoker and no family history of it,” Weber said.

Chris Draft is a former NFL linebacker. When he married his wife, Keasha, she was dying of lung cancer although she had never smoked. She had an idea.

“How about we ask people to support the foundation in the fight against cancer instead of having presents?” Draft said.

he result was “Team Draft” and Chris’ Super Bowl Challenge. Lung cancer survivors compete to raise funds for research. The Denver fans scored big. Weber raised more than $8,000 to win second place and a trip to the Pro Bowl. Ringen raised just over $23,000 and earned the top prize, a trip to the Super Bowl.

“Going to the Super Bowl is the cherry on top, but ultimately what’s keeping me alive is research,” said Ringen.

And these survivors hope to change the face of lung cancer.

Weber said, “There’s a stigma to lung cancer being a quote, “smoker’s disease.”

Anyone with lungs can get lung cancer, Ringen added.

Team Draft is dedicated to tackling it. Half of the money raised goes to the Chris Draft Family Foundation. The lung cancer survivor chooses the recipient of the other half.

Weber has designated the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer. Ringen has designated Lung Cancer Colorado Fund.

Team Draft’s 2nd Annual Super Bowl Challenge Winners

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

A passion for lung cancer research moved two lung cancer survivors to raise money for the cause. Now with the help of the Chris Draft Family Foundation, one is going to the Super Bowl and the other will head to Hawaii for the NFL Pro Bowl.


Kim Ringen and Kathy Weber have a lot in common. Both live in Colorado, they are both fans of the Denver Broncos and both received treatment at University of Colorado Cancer Center. Kim and Kathy also want to share their stories and so they took part in the 2016 Lung Cancer Survivors Super Bowl Challenge sponsored by Team Draft, an initiative of The Chris Draft Family Foundation.


Former NFL linebacker Chris Draft and his wife launched Team Draft at their wedding. Keasha Draft passed away in December 2011 about a year after her stage IV lung cancer diagnosis. The Super Bowl Challenge recruits lung cancer survivors to raise funds to find new ways to combat the disease.


Kim Ringen, DVM, of Denver, won the challenge raising more than $23,000. She was diagnosed with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer in May 2013. Since then, she has been busy learning about her cancer and participating in clinical trials through CU Cancer Center. She is passionate about living life to its fullest with her husband and caregiver extraordinaire, Davin, and their family and friends. Ringen, a never-smoker also is quick to point out that anyone “with lungs can get lung cancer.”


Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer of men and women worldwide. Approximately 20 percent of new diagnoses are in women who have never smoked.


“Going to Super Bowl 50 will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!” says Ringen. “Hopefully we will be rooting for the Broncos! It will be an amazing experience to be in the stands, as we feel the rumble of the crowd.”


Kim believes advances in lung cancer research are keeping her alive so she committed 50 percent of her fundraising efforts to the Lung Cancer Colorado Fund (LCCF). The other 50 percent benefits Team Draft.


“We chose this fund because a lot of lung cancer patients reach out to the Center for consultation as they are one of the leaders in lung cancer research,” says Ringen. “CU Cancer Center offers remote consultation – offering expertise without the patient needing to travel.  We hope the funds impact lung cancer patients not only in Colorado but nationwide.”


Overseen by the physicians and scientists of CU Cancer Center’s Lung Cancer Program, LCCF is used to support basic, clinical and translational research, training of the next generation of physician/scientists and patient financial assistance.


“The Super Bowl Challenge achieves some amazing things in terms of public awareness and changing perceptions about lung cancer,” says D. Ross Camidge, MD, PhD, director of thoracic oncology at CU Cancer Center. “We are always thankful to be included in the fundraising efforts so we can continue to fight lung cancer in the laboratory and the clinic.”

Ringen initially contacted a group of 15 friends and family by email and asked them to be captains for her team. They then took to social media, mainly Facebook, and posted pictures and Kim’s story to help spread awareness about lung cancer.


“When I think about winning the Super Bowl Challenge – I don’t think that ‘I’ won the challenge,” says Ringen. “I say ‘we’ won the challenge because I could not have reached this goal without my friends and family!”


Lung cancer survivor Kathy Weber, of Kiowa, raised nearly $8,000 to take second place in the Super Bowl Challenge, earning Kathy and her family a trip to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii on Jan. 31, 2016.


Weber had been training for figure body building competitions when she noticed pushups becoming more difficult, but only on one side. Her physical therapist suggested a trip to the doctor. The lung cancer was discovered in the spring of 2014. Weber had the upper lobe of one of her lungs removed by CU Cancer Center thoracic surgeon Michael Weyant, MD.


“Kathy’s case is another illustration that anyone can get lung cancer, even those never exposed to cigarette smoke,” says Weyant. “Kathy also benefitted from the least invasive, video-assisted approach to the surgery, which allowed her to return to her active lifestyle after the operation.”


Weyant says this was all made possible because the tumor was found in its early stages.


I am very happy to tell you that I am now a lung cancer survivor,” says Weber “I still struggle with breathing when I work out but continue to push myself in the gym. I believe that my physical health and strength contribute to my well-being and helped me with my recovery.”


Half of the money Weber raised will go to the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer, a global organization dedicated to the study of lung cancer.


The fundraising continues until February 7, the day of Super Bowl 50. To donate on behalf of Kim or Kathy, click on their names.





Team Draft’s 2nd Annual Super Bowl Challenge

Monday, December 28th, 2015

Team Draft's Lung Cancer Survivors Super Bowl Challenge from TEAM DRAFT on Vimeo.

ATLANTA — Former Atlanta Falcon Chris Draft is using healthy competition and the lure of the Super Bowl to raise money fight lung cancer.

The “Team Draft Super Bowl Challenge” gives lung cancer survivors the chance to compete against one another to collect donations for the National Campaign to Change the Face of Lung Cancer–a campaign dedicated to raising public awareness about the true nature of the disease and shattering the misconception that lung cancer is just a “smoker’s disease.”

Draft lost his wife to lung cancer in December 2011.

Keasha Draft was an energetic, vibrant young woman who never smoked and was the picture of health when she was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in October 2010.

A year later, on their wedding day, the two launched Team Draft, to fight lung cancer. Chris carries on the fight today.

“The real deal is anyone can get lung cancer, like my wife, who was 37 years old and healthy and never smoked,” Draft said.

Samantha Mixon of Savannah, Georgia, is one of the survivors taking part in the Super Bowl fundraising challenge.

Mixon, who is originally from Jonesboro, was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in November 2012.

Mixon met Draft through her outreach efforts at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital. She is a 34-year-old mother who never smoked.

As part of the Super Bowl Challenge, the lung cancer survivor, whose Team raises the most money by January 1, 2016, will represent Team Draft in San Francisco during Super Bowl week.

The challenge runs through the end of the year.

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

2015 Tackling Cancer with Team Draft and the St. Louis Rams HD

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

2015 Tackling Cancer with Team Draft and the St. Louis Rams HD from TEAM DRAFT on Vimeo.

For this doctor couple, the Super Bowl was about way more than football

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

Earlier this month, football fans across the world watched as the New England Patriots shocked the Seattle Seahawks with a very dramatic last-minute win. While the game itself was a thrill, equally as exciting for two people in the seats at University of Phoenix Stadium was what had gotten them there. Neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi, MD, and his wife, Lucy, had won a trip to the big game by raising money for lung-cancer research and winning the Lung Cancer Survivors Super Bowl Challenge, sponsored by the Chris Draft Family Foundation.

Kalanithi had attended Stanford as an undergrad in the 90s, the same time as did Draft, a former professional football player who later started his foundation and whose wife, Keasha, died of lung cancer in late 2011. Kalanithi received a diagnosis of lung cancer in 2013 and re-connected with Draft not long after.

“The foundation is putting a new face on the disease,” Lucy Kalanithi, MD, a clinical instructor in general medical disciplines at Stanford, told me during a recent conversation. Team Draft, an initiative of the foundation, puts the spotlight on, and brings together, young lung-cancer patients such as Paul Kalanithi, with the aim of getting out the message that anyone can get lung cancer. It’s also working to stop the smoking stigma from negatively impacting research funding for lung cancer.

Paul at Super Bowl – small“Even though Paul and I are both physicians, prior to his diagnosis, neither of us was fully aware of the global toll of lung cancer and the major gap in federal and private funding due to the anti-smoking stigma,” Lucy Kalanithi said. “More people die from lung cancer than from breast, colon and prostate cancers combined: It’s the top cancer killer.”

I asked if her husband had ever experienced the sense of judgment or blame that can come with a lung-cancer diagnosis. “Paul’s never had the experience – common among lung-cancer patients – of being asked, ‘Did you smoke?’ Kalanithi said, noting that her husband was never a smoker. “But everyone with lung cancer is affected by the anti-smoking stigma, because it means that much, much less money goes to lung cancer research compared with other cancers. And survival rates for all cancers are directly related to research funding. When people think of breast cancer, they think of a sympathetic character like a young mom. But when people think of lung cancer, they don’t think of a vibrant young dad like Paul.”

Through the foundation, the Kalanithis connected with other young families affected by lung cancer (“There’s a lot of camaraderie and optimism,” Kalanithi told me), and when they learned of the Super Bowl Challenge, a friendly fundraising competition among lung-cancer survivors, they jumped at the chance to compete. There was an “overwhelming response from Paul’s friends, family and colleagues – including many from Stanford,” Kalanithi said, which led to a call from Draft on New Year’s Day. They had won the challenge, Draft told the couple, and they would be attending not only the Super Bowl but also Taste of the NFL, a fundraiser attended by former NFL players and renowned chefs from around the country, and an exclusive pre-game stadium tour. As icing on the cake: Their (too-cute-for-words) seven-month-old daughter, Cady, would be making the trip with them.

Kalanithis at Super Bowl – smallWhen I asked Kalanithi for a sampling of the moments etched in her mind from the weekend, she offered two: lying on the Super Bowl field and getting a photo taken with her husband and baby daughter forty-eight hours before the game (“It was surreal”) and watching Paul, a huge football fan, “jump up and down” in their incredible seats on the Seahawks’ 50-yard line. (For the record, they were rooting for the Seahawks. And next year, “we hope to see [Stanford alum] Andrew Luck out there.”)

Despite the excitement of this once-in-a-lifetime experience, the Kalanithis’ relationship with Team Draft seemingly extends far beyond the football field. Kalanithi has noted that the foundation has “helped boost our family’s spirits during this challenging time,” and she sounds eager to partner with Draft on other initiatives. “Helping raise awareness and research funds impacts families everywhere, and it gives me hope,” she said.

Previously: Tackling the stigma of lung cancer – and showing the real faces of the disease, A neurosurgeon’s journey from doctor to cancer patient, “Stop skipping dessert:” A Stanford neurosurgeon and cancer patient discusses facing terminal illness and A Stanford physician’s take on cancer prognoses – including his own
Photos courtesy of Lucy Kalanithi

Former Redskins Player Starts Cancer Foundation In Wife’s Memory

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

RICHMOND, VA—Friday marks the last day of the first Washington Redskins training camp in Richmond, and to mark the occasion, a former player visited the field to share an important message about lung cancer.

While there’s plenty of action out on the field, it’s on the sidelines that Chris Draft tackles an issue close to his heart—he fights lung cancer for his wife Lakeasha, who lost her battle with the cancer in December 2011.

“Prior to her diagnosis, she was challenging me, an NFL player, to do more,” former Washington Redskin player Chris Draft said.

Like 15 percent of lung cancer patients, Lakeasha never smoked, and Draft says his wife was active.

Draft says his wife’s only symptom was a shortness of breath just days before her stage 4 diagnosis.

“Anyone can get lung cancer, and it’s important that we fight for more research, more dollars so we can make sure more people live,” Draft said.

Ralph Burton, who was diagnosed with lung cancer in December, was told just this week that he was winning the fight against cancer.

“Blood tests, chest X-ray and ACT scan and all were normal,” Ralph Burton, a lung cancer survivor said.

Burton celebrates his second chance, while remembering countless patients like Lakeasha who didn’t make it.

Each year lung cancer kills more people than breast cancer, prostate cancer and melanoma combined. It impacts men, women, all races and ages, and Draft hopes more awareness will save more lives.

“With our campaign, our national campaign to change the face of lung cancer, that’s what we’re fighting for, we’re fighting for the people,” Draft said.

Other symptoms of lung cancer include everything from a cough to wheezing, bone pain and headache.
WRIC Richmond News and Weather –

O’s PR Director battles stage four cancer

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

BALTIMORE (WMAR) – She had champagne poured on her head a few weeks ago, and we can’t wait to pop the cork again when she scores another victory over lung cancer.
See this picture? Monica Barlow is in the middle surrounded by friends. Remember this picture.

“I try to think about cancer as little as possible,” said Barlow.

We cannot stop thinking of a 35-year-old, who runs marathons, eats broccoli, and has never took a swig of a cigarette only to find out she has lung cancer.

“There are no why did this happen,” she said.

She was married for what seemed like minutes before the vow of in sickness and in health soared to the top of the medical charts.

A lingering cough and her husband chased her to the doctor, who said, cancer chased to her lymph nodes and liver.

“Which made it stage four, as bad as it gets,” said Barlow.

Then her family, the Orioles. This year of the birds, became the year of the Barlow – giving her hope.

“Everybody rallied, incredible,” she said.

If the Orioles can show us a miracle why can’t we see a miracle in Monica.

So tomorrow will come and she’ll take a pill that wasn’t available to her two years ago.

That is another sign. Then the next day will come and more after that, and her smile will never disappear.

“Not going to define my life,” said Barlow.

Remember the picture, see all her friends – she now has a bigger fan club.

As we use the standing room only section in her heart to wish her the taste of champagne, when she beats this disease.

For more information about lung cancer, visit the National Lung Cancer Partnership website .
Monica Barlow is a spokesperson for LUNGevity Foundation, the nation’s largest lung cancer-focused nonprofit. LUNGevity funds the most promising research for the early detection and successful treatment of lung cancer, and provides information, resources and a community to patients and caregivers. To learn more, go to:

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Orioles ‘Zill Billy’ usher is Swinging at Lung Cancer

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

BALTIMORE (WMAR) – The familiar sounds of John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” during the 7 th inning stretch at Camden Yards brought Charlie Zill front and center to entertain fans as his character, Zill Billy.
“I was playing around one game and put in the teeth,” he said. “I had on a pair of suspenders and turned my hat sideways. I started dancing around, and people seemed to like it.”

An usher at Camden Yards for 17 seasons, Zill followed his passion for the Orioles that dated back to days spent at games with his uncle.
“He was like a mentor to me,” Zill said. “Ever since then, I wanted to work for the Orioles.”
Zill got that chance in 1996, quickly becoming a favorite around the yard. “It’s a privilege to work for the orioles,” he said.
Then, in 1998, after a little coaxing from fans, the Zill Billy was born.

“I’d never have done this if it wasn’t for them,” Zill said. “They created me and got me to do this.”
Zill kept the tradition going season after season, adding new steps and costume pieces along the way. “Each season, I tried to add something to make it better.”

Then in 2009, his life took a dramatic and irreversible turn.
“I had a chronic cough and went to the doctor. That’s when they told me I had lung cancer,” he said.
It was stage four cancer that came with a grim prognosis. “They gave me a year to live when I was diagnosed,” he said.
That was four years ago. In that time, Zill decided to keep dancing and thrilling the crowd as long as his body would let him.
“I believe my working for the o’s was medicine for me,” he said, fighting back tears. “Getting out there, doing my thing… I believe it helped. It helped me a lot.”

Eventually, the effects of the cancer proved too much, and last season during game two of the ALDS at Camden Yards, the Zill Billy knew it was time to give fans his last dance.
“I remember being so weak,” he said. “I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it, but God gave me the will power to go on.”
Today, in Red Lion, Penn., 60 miles from Baltimore, the rhythm of chimes, dancing on a windy morning, replaces the hum of the ballpark. Charlie Zill sits on a couch inside his red brick home tethered to an oxygen tank, fighting for every breath he has left.

“It’s hard for me to walk from here to the bathroom, and I’m out of breath, even with oxygen on,” he said.
He’s physically unable to return to Camden Yards now, but he’s not yet ready to throw in the towel. “I try to keep hope,” he said. “That’s the best thing to keep.”

He’s hoping for the outside chance of a cure and maybe one more trip to the ball park. He won’t be going there to work. This time, he gets to be the fan.

“I’m going to try. I don’t know,” he said. “Only the Lord knows, and I’ll let the spirits move me.”
If you’d like to send cards or letters Charlie Zill, you can send them to:
P.O. Box 604
Red Lion, PA 17356

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Lung cancer pill shows promise, CU patient is beating the odds

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

DENVER — A lung cancer patient is beating the odds thanks to a new drug he’s receiving from doctors at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.