Team Draft: Changing the Face of Lung Cancer

When Chris Draft established the Chris Draft Family Foundationin 2006, inspired by some close friends who had cancer, he never imagined that the disease would claim his wife, Keasha, five years later at age 38—less than a month after their wedding. And especially not Stage IV Lung Cancer.

“Most people associate lung cancer with smoking, but Keasha was never a smoker. In fact, we always stayed as far away as possible from any type of smoke because of my asthma,” says Chris, a former NFL linebacker and Stanford University graduate. “Through the Foundation, and the Team Draft initiative, I want to change the face of lung cancer. I want to take away the stigma and show people the advancements that have been made in curing lung cancer – and give people hope.”

Launched by Chris and Keasha on their wedding day in 2011, the Team Draft initiative is dedicated to raising lung cancer awareness and increasing desperately needed research funding for the disease. Because of its stigma as the ‘smoker’s disease’, funding for lung cancer research pales in comparison to that for other major cancers.

According to the most recent statistics, nearly 50 to 60 percent of lung cancers occur in people who have never smoked or are former smokers. Two-thirds of the non-smokers diagnosed with lung cancer are women, and lung cancer has been the number-one cancer killer of women since 1987!

“If we can take away the stigma that says you have to be a smoker to get lung cancer, we have a real chance to educate people about the true nature of the disease,” Chris says. “The reality was that Keasha was in shape, she was strong, she went to the doctor right away. A lot of people diagnosed with lung cancer are just like Keasha,” a fact underscored by last week’s death from lung cancer of disco legend Donna Summer, who was also a non-smoker.

In the five months since Keasha’s death, Team Draft has been leading a national campaign to change the face of lung cancer, which is focused on educating people not only about the disease itself, but also about the hope that exists for individuals diagnosed with lung cancer today, which is much greater than ever before. The current five-year survival rate for lung cancer is about 16 percent, a number that has changed very little since the 1970s, but there is hope.

Team Draft’s national campaign has taken it to nearly 30 of the country’s top cancer research and treatment facilities in more than a dozen states to give inspiration to those living with the disease and encourage leading researchers to continue to share information with each other that can extend the current life expectancy of lung cancer patients. Chris explains, “Our national campaign to change the face of lung cancer gives us a front-line view of the state of lung cancer research and treatment in America, and this is an exciting period in the history of lung cancer treatment.”

In fact, the use of state-of-the-art lung cancer screening techniques is reducing mortality rates by 20 percent in some patient groups while cutting-edge team-based, multidisciplinary treatment procedures are improving the quality of life for lung cancer patients across the country. And 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.

“Our hope is not only to positively impact research funding, but also to improve the quality of life for those affected by lung cancer,” says Chris. “We aren’t fighting against lung cancer, we’re fighting for people. That’s why we are changing the face of lung cancer.”

To learn more about the Chris and Keasha, the Chris Draft Family Foundation, including its Team Draft initiative, and the national campaign to change the face of lung cancer, and to respond and donate, please visit and


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