Posts Tagged ‘Team Draft’

John Roberts, M.D. Director of Clinical Research, Massey Cancer Center at Virginia Commonwealth University

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

John D. Roberts, M.D., is associate director for clinical research at Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center. Also a professor of internal medicine and hematology, oncology and palliative care at the VCU School of Medicine, Roberts is an expert in the treatment of melanoma and urological cancers. His research focuses on the development of new agents and treatments for fighting cancer. He oversees more than 100 cancer clinical trials at VCU Massey. Respond and Donate

ABC2 Baltimore: Team Draft in town raising awareness for lung cancer after losing his wife

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

FROM ABC2 BALTIMORE – Chris Draft, a 12-year-veteran of the National Football League, got a special tour of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins today.

Draft says he was happy to bring awareness to the work being done at Johns Hopkins, especially for the fight against Lung Cancer.

He lost his wife Keasha Rutledge to the disease last December.

Rutledge was diagnosed with stage four Lung Cancer just 11 months before the couple married.

Draft says she had never smoked, and lived a very healthy lifestyle.

Although there is still a huge amount of work to be done, Draft says he has already seen tremendous progress.

“Yes, when you look at some of the numbers see a five-year mortality rate, it might not be that different than say 30-years-ago.  But there’s a lot of things that are changing and there is hope for people.”

In addition to bringing attention to the important work being done at Johns Hopkins, he is also an Ed Block Courage Award Winner.

Read more:

Dr. Malcolm V. Brock is Tackling Lung Cancer

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Dr. Brock’s research has focused primarily on developing and clinically applying molecular biomarkers, namely DNA methylation, to facilitate the early detection, accurate prognosis and specific chemosensitivity of lung and esophageal cancers. Current projects include using DNA methylation as a more accurate molecular indicator of lymph micrometases in a large cohort of lung cancer patients and as a means of predicting sensitivity of esophageal cancer to neoadjuvant chemotherapy based on endoscopic biopsy samples. Dr. Brock actively collaborates with Drs. Stephen Baylin and James Herman in the Division of Tumor Biology in the Cancer Center. Recently, Dr. Brock has received NIH funding to investigate the rising incidence of lung cancer in HIV patients and has begun both a clinical study and a tumor-profiling project in this regard. Finally, the Brock laboratory has developed large relational databases of lung and esophageal patients with matching biological samples to validate biomarker discovery. Respond and Donate

Dr. Pasi A. Janne is Tackling Lung Cancer

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Chris Draft leads Team Draft to meet with Pasi Janne, MD,PhD at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston to support lung cancer research.

Associated with the world-renowned Dana Farber Cancer Institute and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, Dr. Pasi A. Janne, MD, PhD, is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania – School of Medicine in Philadelphia. Upon earning his medical degree from this prestigious institution, Janne completed a residency in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and earned a fellowship in hematology and oncology at Dana Farber. He currently serves as Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School and works in the Lowe Center for Thoracic Oncology at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Respond and Donate


Dr. Abraham Chachoua, NYU Langone Cancer Center

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Dr. Chachoua started the multidisciplinary lung conference which now meets weekly, where all patients are discussed and management decisions are made based on the input of experts from multiple fields including surgery, radiation oncology, pulmonary and radiology. Respond and Donate

Despite loss, former Falcon continues lung cancer campaign, fund-raising

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

For years, organizations such as Lung Cancer Alliance and the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health have dedicated countless hours and millions of dollars to educate the public about lung cancer and new developments in detection and treatment. Yet as well-known as these entities are, their message often is overshadowed by other cancers, especially ones with higher survival rates such as breast cancer.

Advocates say they need all the help they can get — from those who survive and the families of those who do not — to continue to raise awareness.

“The way I look at it, there is no over-awareness right now, only under-awareness,” said Laurie Fenton Ambrose, president and chief executive of the Washington, D.C.-based Lung Cancer Alliance. “We need to combine forces and strategize about how we build a more compassionate and comprehensive approach.”

Enter Chris and Keasha Draft and their Team Draft initiative, “Changing the Face of Lung Cancer.” The couple started the effort together, with the official launch at their wedding, Nov. 27. The goal of the campaign is to raise funds to aid lung cancer research and education. But the task fell solely to Chris Draft after his 38-year-old wife died Dec. 27 on their one-month anniversary.

Keasha Rutledge Draft never smoked and was an athletic woman. An electrical engineer by trade, she danced professionally for the Charlotte Hornet Honeybees, worked out regularly and paid attention to her overall health, her husband said. “She was doing some ballroom dancing, Latin dancing and she was getting ready to do a competition,” said Chris Draft, a former Atlanta Falcon. “But right at the beginning of December 2010, she said she had a little shortness of breath and she went and got checked out.”

The visit to her doctor lead to a diagnosis of a late-stage lung cancer called adenocarcinoma, which begins in the cells that form the lining of the lungs. The condition accounts for just over 30 percent of lung cancer diagnoses, according to statistics from the Lung Cancer Alliance. The finding naturally led to speculation from outsiders about Keasha Draft’s health habits, her husband said.

“That’s the stigma of lung cancer,” Chris Draft said. “Everybody wanted to know if she smoked. They’re trying to figure out how she got it. But she didn’t smoke.”

The presumption that lung cancer is associated with smokers or exposure to second-hand smoke is a dangerous one, said Dr. Scott Kono, an assistant professor of medical oncology at Emory University’s medical school, who treated Keasha Draft.

“Most people are not thought to be victims of cancer, but that they have cancer because of something they did,” he said. “Not all lung cancer patients smoke like the Marlboro Man.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lung cancer kills more people in the U.S. than any other type of cancer and is the second-leading cause of death behind heart disease. More than 20 percent of lung cancer cases are diagnosed in people who have never smoked, Ambrose said. “Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in every ethnic group,” she said. “And lung cancer has been the leading cause of death among women and surpassed breast cancer in the late 1980s.”

The five-year survival rate for women with lung cancer was just under 19 percent in 2006, the latest data available from the National Cancer Institute. Other cancer’s survival rates were significantly higher. “We don’t have a big survivorship and that is why the onus is placed on the families of those who don’t survive,” Kono said. “And that is very hard for families. But what Chris is doing is raising awareness and saying, ‘This is not just a smoker’s disease.’ That is really important.”

While Draft appreciates the acknowledgment, he’s focused on saving lives and changing the face of the disease. He knows what happened to his wife could happen to anyone, whether they have a history of smoking or not.

“She knew it, too,” he said. “That’s why at the wedding she didn’t want gifts. She wanted people to donate to Team Draft.”

Team Draft and Emory University on 11Alive NBC Atlanta from TEAM DRAFT on Vimeo.

Team Draft Takes Its Mission to Medical Students, Media

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Chris Draft played linebacker in the NFL for 13 years, five of them in Atlanta from 2000 to 2005.  He has overcome a lot of obstacles in his life, and he’s zeroing in on what may be his toughest one yet.  Mr. Draft’s wife, Keasha Rutledge Draft passed away nearly a year ago after a tough fight with lung cancer.  Mr. Draft, who graduated from Stanford University with a degree in economics, is carrying on Keasha’s battle through his “Changing the Face of Lung Cancer Campaign,” aimed at creating awareness and raising funds for lung cancer research.

He brings intensity and energy to this project that is evident after just a minute in his presence.  On Feb. 28, Mr. Draft spoke to 150 first and second-year medical students from the Emory University School of Medicine.  He talked with them about how important it will be to see their patients as people first, and how honest and open communication makes a great difference in treatment.  The students related to Mr. Draft and his message, and the talk went well beyond the time-limit thanks to many questions and an enthusiastic dialogue. See the Team Draft of one of the Emory students via video on our Vimeo channel.

Scott Kono, MD, assistant professor of hematology and medical oncology at Winship Cancer Institute, served as Keasha’s doctor throughout her battle, and helped to arrange the talk to the students.  He is helping Mr. Draft in his work to generate awareness and help eliminate the stigma that lung cancer is a smoker’s disease.  Mrs. Draft,  who earned a degree in engineering from Clemson, was active, athletic and never smoked.

Dr. Scott Kono, Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University from TEAM DRAFT on Vimeo.

In working to get the word out, Mr. Draft is talking with various news media around the country.  Here in Atlanta, the Atlanta Journal Constitution recently featured Dr. Kono and Mr. Draft in an article on hiseducational initiative.  Here is the link:

In addition to the AJC, Mr. Draft recently sat down with Randy Waters from 11 Alive News to talk about his plans for making a difference.  Watch 11 Alive’s special presentation here:

For more information on this important campaign, log on to to learn how you can help beat lung cancer.

MD Anderson Cancer Center is Tackling Lung Cancer

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Today, Team Draft visited the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (MD Anderson), one of the oldest and most respected cancer centers in the country.  Team Draft toured MD Anderson–the largest free-standing cancer center in the world–and had the opportunity to sit down with hospital administrators, doctors, and staff to discuss the great strides MD Anderson is making in developing cutting-edge treatment procedures for lung cancer patients.

MD Anderson and the other members of the 14-hospital Lung Cancer Mutation Consortium (LCMC) are revolutionizing the way lung cancer is treated by promoting molecular tumor mutation testing for lung cancer patients.  Molecular testing is one of the keys to developing effective personalized lung cancer treatments. The LCMC cancer centers have facilitated targeted treatments for hundreds of patients, through innovative, genetically driven clinical trials as well as commercially available therapies.

Respond and Donate 

Dr. Ignacio Wistuba, Pathologist, MD Anderson from TEAM DRAFT on Vimeo.

Patient Care is a Team Effort at UT Southwestern’s Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Today, Team Draft traveled to Dallas to visit the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at UT Southwestern (Simmons).  Long recognized as one of the nation’s top research facilities, Simmons is also one of the premier cancer treatment facilities in the country.  And at Simmons, patient care is a team effort.

The secret to Simmons’ success, is its nationally-recognized Supportive Care Program.  The Program employs a collaborative approach to patient care involving a specially trained multidisciplinary team of cancer-specific psychologists, social workers, dietitians, chaplains, and behavioral scientists offering state-of-the-art therapeutic approaches tailored to the individual needs of patients and their families.

Simmons Cancer Center is committed to treating the whole person-not just the disease. The Supportive Care Program is evidence of that commitment.

Respond and Donate

UT Southwestern Simmons Cancer Center from TEAM DRAFT on Vimeo.

Ashley Joy Mahaffey is Changing the Face of Lung Cancer

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Today, a remarkable woman shared her mother’s story with Chris.  Team Draft is proud to share the Ashley Joy’s story of her mother, Patricia Mahaffey.

Dear Chris,

I always say the message you need to hear will find you…I believe you are my message. Around 4:00AM  on Monday, February 27, I woke up to a commercial for an 11Alive news piece about you wife, Keasha. At First, I thought I misunderstood your story so ; I rewound the DVR and played it again. Then, I started crying. 

On September 1, 2007 (my 29th birthday), my mother was diagnosed with non-small cell stage IV lung cancer. She had just turned 60 in July. While not as young as your wife, my mother was very healthy. She was aware of how poor diet and exercise could shorten the lifespan of an African-American female. She made point to eat well, exercise regularly, take care of the house and yard and stay active with the friends. In addition, she was a non-smoker. She was a great example!

Before her diagnosis, my mother was known for having this cough. She went to the doctor, but no one thought to perform a chest scan or check for cancer because she did not smoke. She went to the hospital because she thought she was having a heart attack. It was then; they diagnosed her with pneumonia and lung cancer. 

Over the next 18 months, my mother fought a tough battle. She went through chemotherapy. It then spread to her brain and she went through radiation. The tumors shrunk and grew and shrunk and grew. It was a roller coaster. On March 4, 2009, Jesus called her home.

It has been almost three years and I miss my mom so much. I try to honor her memory by letting everyone know her story. I tell people, “My mom had cancer.” They say, “I’m sorry. What kind?” I reply, “Lung.” Their facial expression changes from sympathy to judgment. I continue with,” She never smoked anything.” Their face changes from judgment to guilt.

I know if more people were aware that non-smokers get lung cancer too, more research and funding would be made available. For my mom, I believe it is our genetic cancer because she lost a sister (my aunt) to and has a nephew (my cousin) with lung cancer. Neither of them smoked. 

I thank you for listening to my mom’s story. I thank you for what you are doing. I thank you for telling your wife’s story. You touched someone who was feeling alone and needed to hear your message.

Ashley Joy