Archive for the ‘Tackling Lung Cancer’ 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 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

Steven Dubinett, M.D., UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

• Professor of Medicine and Pathology, Director, UCLA Lung Cancer Research Program in the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center
• Chief, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, and Principal Investigator for the UCLA Lung Cancer SPORE

Dr. Steven Dubinett has extensive experience in academic investigation, administration, mentorship and peer review. He has received federal peer-reviewed funding for translational lung cancer research for the past 20 years. Dr. Dubinett is nationally recognized for translational research in the immunobiology of lung cancer. Building on original discoveries regarding the role of inflammation in the pathogenesis of lung cancer he has developed a translational research program, which now utilizes these laboratory-based discoveries in the clinical setting. He has been involved in mentoring trainees at all levels in a peer-review funded, translational research program. Twenty of the 23 post-doctoral fellows from his research program are currently continuing in either academic or industry research careers. He has been active both within the training programs in the UCLA academic community and, nationally, in setting policy as a member of foundation and NIH training committees on training. He recently served on the NCI Translational Research Working Group and has served as a mentor for the American Association for Cancer Research grant writing workshop for the past seven years.

He has served on numerous study sections and special emphasis panels for the NIH including chair of the study section for the Lung SPOREs, reviewer for PO1s, the EDRN, Clinical Oncology and Tumor Microenvironment study sections and site review teams for the NCI intramural programs. Dr. Dubinett serves on numerous committees for professional societies including the ASCO Education Committee, the AACR – Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Awards Selection Committee, the ATS Clinical Problems Program Committee and the organizing committee for the IASLC World Conference on Lung Cancer. He currently serves on the External Advisory Boards (EABs) for the Lung Cancer SPOREs at Colorado and Vanderbilt and the mesothelioma PO1 at the University of Pennsylvania. He served as a member of the NCI TRWG. He has received competitive awards for lung cancer research including the Cecile Lehman Mayer Research Award, the Helen Neufeld Award and the Career Investigator Award from the American Lung Association. In 2008 Dr. Dubinett received the American Thoracic Society Award for Scientific Achievement. He was the Scientific Program Chairperson for the Seventh Annual AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research.

Steven Dubinett, M.D.,, UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center from TEAM DRAFT on Vimeo.

Michael Hanley, MD, University of Virginia Healthcare

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

Michael Hanley, M.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Radiology and Medical Imaging
Division of Body Imaging

M.D. Degree: University of Virginia School of Medicine 2006
Residency: Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC (Diagnostic Radiology)
Fellowship: Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA (Non-Invasive Cardiovascular)
ABMS Certification: Diagnostic Radiology
Clinical Practice: Radiology: Cancer: Interventional Radiology Vascular Diseases

Michael Hanley, MD, University of Virginia Healthcare from TEAM DRAFT on Vimeo.

Mark Varvares, MD, Director, Saint Louis University Cancer Center

Sunday, May 26th, 2013




Mark Varvares, MD
Director, Saint Louis University Cancer Center


Undergraduate: University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri
Medical School: Saint Louis University School of Medicine
St.Louis, MO
Internship: Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Chicago, IL
Residency: Harvard Medical School
Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston, MA
Fellowship: Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Head and Neck Reconstructive Surgery
Board Certification
American Board of Otolaryngology
American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Clinical Interests
Squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck, free flap reconstruction of head and neck defects, skull base surgery, surgery of the parotid, thyroid and parathyroid glands, surgery of the larynx, cancer of the nose and paranasal sinuses

Research Interests
How the surgical pathology of head and neck tumor impacts survival, the histopathological response of head and neck cancer to chemoradiation, clinical outcomes as related to head and neck cancer therapy

Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center

Friday, May 24th, 2013






William Pao, M.D., Ph.D.

Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center

Dr. Pao is a physician-scientist with a special interest in thoracic oncology. Dr. Pao’s research focuses on identification of genes involved in the pathogenesis of lung tumors and stratifying tumors intoclinically relevant molecular subsets. Using information derived fromthese experiments, Dr.


Ph.D. – Yale University, 1998

M.D. – Yale University, 1990

Fellowship – Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 2005

Fellowship – Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 2004

Internship – New York Presbyterian Hospital, 2000

Residency – New York Presbyterian Hospital, 2000

Research Specialty

The Pao Laboratory aims to perform translational research in the area of solid tumor biology, using lung cancer as a paradigm. The overall goal is to develop molecularly-tailored treatments for patients with lung cancer.

Research Description

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S and worldwide. Most cases arise in former or current smokers, but about 10% of cases also occur in individuals who smoked less than 100 cigarettes in a lifetime (“never smokers”). Lung cancers are currently classified by histopathological techniques as either small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) or non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In North America, adenocarcinoma (a type of NSCLC) is the most frequent type of histological tumor, accounting for 40% of all cases of lung cancer.

New “targeted” epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) like gefitinib (Iressa) and erlotinib (Tarceva) have given us a window of opportunity to elucidate clinically relevant molecular subsets of lung adenocarcinomas. For example, clinical trials have shown that gefitinib has an overall response rate of 10% in American and European populations, and 28% in Japanese patients. Retrospective analyses suggested that gefitinib is most efficacious in “never smokers” with adenocarcinoma histology. Such findings can now be largely accounted for by research from our group and others showing the relatively high incidence of mutations in the gene encoding EGFR in these respective populations and the association of EGFR mutations with increased sensitivity to both gefitinib and erlotinib.

While EGFR mutations are common in tumors from never smokers, mutations in KRAS, which encodes a signaling molecule downstream of EGFR, more commonly occur in individuals with substantial cigarette use. Moreover, EGFR and KRAS mutations appear to be mutually exclusive, suggesting that EGFR and KRAS mutations within lung epithelia are equivalent in their tumorigenic effects. We found that mutations in KRAS are associated with primary resistance to these drugs. This suggests that pre-treatment mutational profiling of both EGFR and KRAS may help guide treatment decisions regarding the use of these agents.

Unfortunately, virtually all patients who initially respond to gefitinib and erlotinib eventually develop acquired resistance. We have shown that tumor cells from patients whose disease progresses after initial responses on therapy with these agents frequently harbor second-site mutations in EGFR. The predominant second mutation substitutes methionine for threonine at position 790 in EGFR, which is predicted to block binding of gefitinib and erlotinib to the ATP-binding pocket of the kinase. Interestingly, the T790M amino acid change is analogous to changes seen in other kinases targeted by a related kinase inhibitor, imatinib (Gleevec), in patients that develop acquired resistance to that drug. Using a genomic approach, we have also recently found that tumor samples from patients with acquired resistance to gefitinib or erlotinib harbor amplification of MET, which encodes another tyrosine kinase. MET amplification appears to occur independently of T790M mutations. Importantly, MET inhibitors are currently being developed in the clinic.

The Pao Laboratory is now focused on the following:

1)            Defining further molecular subsets of lung cancers, based primarily upon mutational profiling of the oncogenome in tumor samples.

2)            Elucidating other mechanisms of sensitivity and resistance to EGFR inhibitors in lung cancer. For example, we recently showed that in drug-sensitive EGFR mutant lung cancer cells, induction of BIM is essential for apoptosis triggered by.



Gerold Bepler, M.D., Ph.D. President and CEO Karmanos Cancer Institute

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Gerold Bepler, M.D., Ph.D.
President and Chief Executive Officer

Gerold Bepler, M.D., Ph.D., is a world-renowned thoracic oncologist who has spent his career researching risks, progression, treatments and outcomes related to lung cancer, with a special focus on non-small cell lung cancer.
Dr. Bepler began his tenure as president and chief executive officer of the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit in February 2010. Karmanos is one of only 41 National Cancer Institute-designated, comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. In addition to his chief administrative duties, Dr. Bepler also serves as principal investigator of Karmanos’ National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center Support Grant; and associate dean of Cancer Programs, Wayne State University School of Medicine (WSU SOM).

Prior to coming to Karmanos, Dr. Bepler was director of the Comprehensive Lung Cancer Research Center; department chair of Thoracic Oncology; and program leader of the Lung Cancer Program at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL. He also served as professor of Medicine and Oncology at the University of South Florida. Prior to joining the Moffitt Cancer Center, Dr. Bepler was director of the Lung Cancer Program at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY. He also held positions at Duke University Hospital and Durham VA Medical Center.

Dr. Bepler has secured more than $45 million in cancer-related research funding since the mid-1980s. He has published more than 158 peer-reviewed articles, including articles in the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of Clinical Oncology and Cancer Research. His awards and recognitions are numerous and include an appointment to the Fleischner Society for Thoracic Imaging and Diagnosis (2012); the Moffitt Cancer Center’s Scientist of the Year (2008), the American College of Physicians Information and Education Resource Editorial Consultant (2007 – 2008), and he served on the Journal of Clinical Oncology Editorial Board (2006 – 2008). He also holds eight patents.

Dr. Bepler is a native of Germany. He received his medical and doctorate degrees from the Philipps University School of Medicine and Dentistry in Marburg, Germany. His postdoctoral fellowships were completed at the National Cancer Institute, Philipps University and at Duke University Medical Center.

Dr. Bepler is married and has four children. He resides in Bloomfield Township, Michigan.