Posts Tagged ‘Team Draft’

Keasha Rutledge Draft

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Dance ~ Smile ~ Live

Dance ~ Smile ~ Live

Lakeasha (Keasha) Monique Rutledge Draft, 38, of Atlanta, Georgia departed this earth on Tuesday, December 27, 2011.

Born on May 13, 1973 to Tommy and Gail Rutledge in Anderson, South Carolina, she was always a shining star while she attended the Palmetto schools of Anderson District One, and graduated a year early with honors. Keasha was a faithful member of her family church New Prospect Baptist Church of Williamston, SC. Always active and ambitious, Keasha participated in many organizations from National Honor Society to earning the title of captain on the varsity cheerleading squad. She was known for her phenomenal dancing ability, although her track and field accomplishments were stellar also, as she placed first in the high jump at the state meet every year from seventh through twelfth grade. She still holds the school record for high jump. As a Clemson University student, she was a well-loved classmate, dancer for the Rallycats and was inducted into the Lambda Theta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. in the Spring of 1992. Keasha received her Bachelors of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Clemson University in 1995. She began her career in engineering for Cutler-Hammer. Keasha was an NBA dancer and beloved teammate for the Charlotte Hornets Honeybees. She began working as a pharmaceutical sales representative for Sanofi-Aventis in Charlotte and transferred to Atlanta, Georgia where she worked until her illness transpired. On November 27, 2011, she married her long-time sweetheart, Christopher Draft.

Keasha leaves to cherish beautiful memories her loving husband, Chris Draft; parents, Tommy and Gail Rutledge; parents-in-law, Anthony and Rose Draft; maternal grandmother, Wilma Clement; paternal grandmother, Synola Rutledge; and a host of relatives and friends.

In honor of Keasha’s admirable vibrant spirit, celebrate each day, dance often, smile, laugh, and embrace life.

~MUAH. Peace.

Keasha Rutledge Draft–Changing the Face of Lung Cancer from TEAM DRAFT on Vimeo.

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.

Dr. Augusto Ochoa, Director of LSU Health Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Augusto Ochoa, MD
Professor of Pediatrics
Adjunct Associate Professor, Biochemistry
Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center

DegreesM.D. – 1982

Universidad de Antioquia, Colombia

Bio Post-doctoral Fellowship – Immunology, Immunobiology Research Center, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 1982 – 1986
Assistant Professor, Immunobiology Research Center, University of Minnesota, 1986-1989
Head, Immunotherapy Laboratory, National Cancer Institute, Frederick Cancer Research and Development Center, Frederick, MD, 1989 – 1996
Head, Signal Transduction Laboratory, National Cancer Institute, Frederick Cancer Research and Development Center, Frederick, MD, 1996-1997

Residency in Pediatrics, Louisiana State University Medical Center, New Orleans, LA, 1997- 2000
Fellowship – Allergy/Immunology, Louisiana State University, New Orleans, LA, 2001-2003

Board Certification:
Pediatrics, 2000

Research Interests T cell function
Cytokine production
Macrophage-T cell interaction
Immune regulation
Immune dysfunction and disease
Tumor Immunology


Dr. Augusto Ochoa, Director of LSU Health Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center from TEAM DRAFT on Vimeo.

Tackling Lung Cancer with Survivor Linda Wortman and the Mayo Clinic

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Lung cancer survivor LInda Wortman represented Team Draft’s “Survivor at Every Stadium” at the Minneapolis Metrodome.

Tackling Lung Cancer with Survivor Linda Wortman and the Mayo Clinic 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

Jackie Archer is Changing the Face of Lung Cancer

Saturday, September 15th, 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 sequence

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!

Team Draft Brings our Campaign Against Lung Cancer to Jefferson

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

During 12 years as a linebacker in the NFL, Chris Draft faced lots of tough opponents.

But after losing his young wife to lung cancer last year, Draft is taking on the disease that will be diagnosed in an estimated 226,000 Americans this year. Like many of those who develop lung cancer Keasha Rutledge Draft never smoked.

Last week, Draft was at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson as part of his campaign to raise lung cancer awareness and increase research funding for the disease that takes the lives of more people than breast cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer combined. So far, Draft has visited almost 50 cancer centers in the United States

Meeting with Richard G. Pestell, MD, PhD, director of Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center, oncologists Barbara Campling, MD, and Russell J. Schilder, MD, Draft emphasized the importance of the ongoing research into finding effective treatments for lung cancer.

And, meeting with patients at Jefferson, Draft noted that lung cancer sometimes gets overlooked by the public because it is so closely associated with smoking. But many lung cancer patients, like Keasha, were never smokers.

“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,” Draft said.

The specialists of Jefferson’s Thoracic Oncology Program offer a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to treatment that continually evaluates patients through the entire course of treatment. The Program is at the forefront of using new drugs and innovative combinations of radiation therapy, surgery and chemotherapy to improve the outcomes for patients with every type of lung cancer.

For those at high risk of developing lung cancer Jefferson offers a Lung Cancer Screening Program that provides a low-cost, one-day, state-of-the-art screening.

The Program is one of the first in the region aimed at increasing early detection rates and treatment outcomes and works in conjunction with Jefferson’s Lung Nodule Clinic to evaluate those patients whose screening detects a “spot on the lung” or nodule.

Team Draft would like to say thanks to Jefferson for allowing our national campaign to come and see the work that is needed to Change the Face of Lung Cancer. Respond and Donate Today!

Team Draft: Notes From the National Campaign Trail

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Sunday, May 13th would have been Keasha’s 39th birthday.  Team Draft marked the occasion by kicking off a week-long bicoastal tour in support of our national campaign to change the face of lung cancer.  The tour took Team Draft to our 30th cancer treatment facility, to the set of Dancing With The Stars, and to Bank of America Stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers.  And none of this would have been possible without the generation support and donations of people like you.  Please help us continue the campaign by making a donation today:

 Finding HOPE on the West Coast

 Team Draft began the tour in Southern California.  On Monday, we had the opportunity to sit down with the newly-appointed Director of Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego, Dr. Scott Lippman.  And on Wednesday, Team Draft achieved a major milestone when we visited our 30th cancer treatment facility since launching the national campaign: USC’s Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. Thanks to cutting-edge research like that being performed at these state-of-the-art facilities, for the first time in decades, there is hope in the fight against lung cancer.

Applying revolutionary genomic approaches, researchers have now identified the molecular changes in certain genes that cause some lung cancer tumors to grow.  This discovery opens the door for the development of targeted drugs designed to stop tumor growth in its tracks by interfering with the growth receptors in these mutated genes.  These new targeted drug therapies are extending the lives of some patients by several months, and in some cases, even years.

The key to making even greater strides (and ultimately saving lives) is funding, but funding for lung cancer research is impacted by the stigma that it is a “smoker’s disease.”  The truth is, anybody can get lung cancer—a fact underscored on Thursday by the tragic death from lung cancer of disco legend Donna Summers, who was a non-smoker like Keasha.  That’s why Team Draft is campaigning to change the face of lung cancer and to raise public awareness.  Thankfully, we are not alone.

Before leaving the West Coast, Team Draft visited the set of Dancing With The Stars to show our support for the show’s lung cancer awareness efforts.  This season, DWTS Pros Jonathan Roberts and Anna Trebunskaya performed a tribute dance in honor their friend and fellow ballroom dancer, Julia Ivleva, who is in the middle of her own battle with Stage IV Lung Cancer.  Jonathan, Anna, and Julia embody the dance, smile, and live philosophy, and Team Draft thanks DWTS for helping to shine a light on lung cancer.

Raising AWARENESS on the East Coast

 After completing the West Coast leg of the tour, Team Draft headed to back to the East Coast.  We concluded the tour on Saturday by taking part in two events to raise awareness and funding for cancer research in Keasha’s adopted hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Team Draft began the day at Charlotte’s Park Road Park where Chris addressed a crowd of lung cancer survivors, advocates, and supporters at The North Carolina Lung Cancer Partnership’s inaugural Free to Breathe 5K and Rally. The event raised money for lung cancer research and advocacy.

After the Rally, Team Draft headed to Bank of America Stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers.  As a Panther’s linebacker, Chris used to come to the Stadium to tackle opposing quarterbacks.  On Saturday, Team Draft was there to tackle cancer by participating in the Keep Pounding 5K Stadium Run in support of the Panther’s Keep Pounding Fund and pediatric cancer research at Levine Children’s Hospital.

Team Draft’s national campaign to change the face of lung cancer would not be possible without support from people like you.  Your donation will help ensure that we can continue to raise public awareness of the true nature of the disease and increase the funding needed to tackle it.

To learn more about Team Draft, share your story, and respond and donate, visit  You can follow the national campaign to change the face of lung cancer on our blog at, and don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook at , and also

Changing the Face of Lung Cancer: Keasha Rutledge Draft

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

Keasha Rutledge Draft

May 13, 1973 – December 27, 2011

Lakeasha Monique Rutledge Draft passed away on Tuesday, December 27.  She courageously faced lung cancer, showing us all with every breath that we all need to hold onto life and love with both hands for as long as we can.  Not just an inspiration, but a light, and a force that led the way with a beautiful, sweet smile and bright shining eyes that both belied the pure steel of her strength and determination.

Strong is too pale, too shallow and too small of a word to describe Keasha’s vibrancy… Quite simply, she was ferocious. She fiercely held onto life, and love with a forcefulness that was absolutely awe-inspiring and completely breathtaking. Rest in peace, Mrs. Draft.

A Celebration of Keasha Rutledge Draft’s life will be held on Saturday, December 31st, 1pm at Calvary Baptist Church in Williamston, South Carolina.  She will be laid to rest following the Celebration at New Prospect Baptist Church.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks for support of Team Draft, the Chris Draft Family Foundation’s tribute to Keasha.  Team Draft was created by Chris and Keasha during her year-long struggle with lung cancer in hopes that her valiant fight to live, love, laugh and smile will give hope and comfort to people across the world.  Chris and Keasha, the Draft and Rutledge families, friends and loved ones ask for your support, and love, and thank you for joining Team Draft… because it takes a Team to tackle cancer!

Donations to Team Draft can be made via the Chris Draft Family Foundation’s website or via mail to the Foundation’s Atlanta office.


Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.


Taylor Bell is Changing The Face of Lung Cancer as a Survivor

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Growing up it was my dream to play soccer in college. I got that chance when Coach Rob Donnenwirth asked if I would like to come to ECU to play soccer.  When I got to ECU, I bonded with my teammates, loved my classes, and met some really awesome friends. The only problem was that I wasn’t performing at the level that I needed to on the field. I failed fitness test after fitness test and I was constantly physically exhausted. I had numbness and tingling in my toes and was having some trouble breathing when I exerted myself at a high level.  Other than those little symptoms, I felt great!

After several failed attempts to pass fitness test and always being tired we came to the decision that it might be a good time to run some medical test to see if we would figure out what was wrong. They found nothing. I convinced myself to think that I was just burnt out from the game.   After a year of frustration and complications I made the hardest decision of my life to stop playing soccer. I still had the same symptoms from before when I was exercising but not at the level it had been.

Two years later, in October of 2007, I presented to the emergency room with complaints of a lower abdomen pain where I thought my appendix was rupturing or having cramps but my sister insisted that female cramps were not that bad. They took me in and did a CT scan of my abdomen and my lungs showed up on the scan.
They told me that my ovaries did have some small cyst on them but that they thought that they were fine, but wanted to inform me that I had about a 3cm mass on my left lung. My heart sank!! Lung cancer runs in my family, but surely I did not have lung cancer or a tumor. I was 21 years old and a former college athlete and NEVER smoker.
After the night at the hospital I went home. The next two weeks we spent in doctors’ offices all over the state trying to see what this mass really was. No doctor thought it was possible for it to be lung cancer. After several test I finally got my answer when meeting with a surgeon. That doctor’s appointment was when I went into shock. He walked into my room and said Taylor I hear you have lung cancer. I freaked out¦ no one had said the word lung cancer yet because no one was sure.
My doctor told me that the mass was pretty large but that it was going to have to come out, but he felt comfortable that he would be able to do the small incision and get it all out. The only problem was that I was really sick.  After the first bronchoscope I developed really bad pneumonia, basically to the point that I could not walk. So we had to wait to have my surgery until I could pass a breathing test to prove that my lungs could handle the surgery.  I finally got well enough to have the surgery. On November 14, 2007, I had a VATS pneumonectomy.
After the surgery I was a mess. The chest tube was HORRIBLE!!!! I was in the ICU for 2 days and then moved to a step down unit. I had the chest tube in for about five days! They made me walk around the halls and I HATED it. It was so miserable.
I went home the day before thanksgiving, and went back to college after the New Year.  It was hard going back to school because all my friends really did not understand. It was hard for them also, because on the outside I did not look like I was sick, I looked like the normal Taylor Bell. But on the inside I was in a lot of pain.
It was also hard because it’s kind of an emotional roller coaster. I looked fine but I had just had a MAJOR surgery. I wanted to go on spring break, but I was nowhere well enough to go.  It was depressing.  I wanted to be like everyone else and have a good time, but I knew deep down my body could not handle it.
Spring break week was probably when the fact that I had lung cancer hit me. The months before it all happened so fast I did not even think about it¦ it went from diagnoses, to surgery, to recovery, to class starting. One thing after another with really no time to think about what I was going through.
I was a mess that week. I did not want my parents or my friends to see that I was upset. I think the hardest part was that I looked fine. I did not lose my hair I did not have a big scars¦ I looked normal.  I was still in a lot of pain, and I was so upset that I could not be with everyone. Cancer is kind of strange because you have a lot of thoughts that go through your head. You think a lot about it. Or what did I do to deserve this. Spring break week I thought a lot about it and that’s when I realized this happened to me because I am a strong enough person to handle it.  I made it through and I am ALIVE and that’s when I realized I HAVE to do something to speak up for everyone who has lost their life.
I now do as much public speaking and advocacy about lung cancer as I possibly can.  I am a member of Jillian’s Legacy which is an organization that was formed in honor of Jillian Costello who like me was a division 1 college athlete who was diagnosed with lung cancer at the age of 21. Jill fought with such grace and determination. When she passed away a group of friends decided that we needed to do something in her honor. She did not just want to beat lung cancer for herself but her goal was to beat lung cancer for everyone.

I think one of the greatest obstacles with lung cancer is getting people to break the stigma. Every time I say that I had lung cancer the first words I hear are Oh you smoked?”  Well no actually I have not, and I have never been around second hand smoke either. Then their next question is a oh it must run in your family then and then my answer is well yes it does, but there is very little funding to do research to tell if there is a genetic link.
Breaking that stigma is hard. When someone tells you the have breast cancer or they had brain cancer they donate ask any questions as to how they got it. Why do they do it with lung cancer? No one deserves this disease whether they smoked or not and everyone deserves the same compassion.
My main goal is to get the message out that this can happen to young people and people who have never smoked, it can happen to anyone. Lung Cancer does NOT discriminate. And even if they have made the choice to smoke at some point in their life they still deserve the same compassion as anyone who is fighting for their life.  And that lung cancer deserves way more funding than what it gets right now!!
When I was first diagnosed I used to think “why me” now I think “why not me?”   My diagnosis has shaped me into such a strong person and has given me the avenue to make a difference in people’s lives that have to fight this battle as well.