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Chris Draft: Passion for Keasha, Football and Advocacy (Part IV)

Read Chris Draft: Passion for Keasha, Football and Advocacy — Part I.
Read Chris Draft: Passion for Keasha, Football and Advocacy — Part II.
Read Chris Draft: Passion for Keasha, Football and Advocacy — Part III.

Lung cancer, it’s a dirty job

Raising awareness and advocating for lung cancer research is anything but glamorous. Yet, though the numbers are dismal, that just proves there’s plenty of work to be done.

“We don’t have to like where we stand,” says Chris. “We don’t have to like that anyone can get it. We don’t have to like that most people are diagnosed with Stage III or Stage IV. We don’t have to like that the survival rate is 18 percent. We don’t have to like that for Stage IV it’s less than five percent. We don’t have to like any of those numbers. We don’t have to like that it kills more than breast, prostate, and a number of other cancers combined. But — if we want to change those numbers — we’ve got to get to work.

“Sometimes we get caught up on, do we like those numbers? Of course, we don’t. But what is it going to take to change it? A commitment to early detection. Appreciating lung cancer screening and fighting to make sure as many people that can benefit from it do benefit from it. It’s making sure, in terms of treatment, that we do biomarker testing right away in non-small cell lung cancer. We need to make sure we catch all those people who will benefit from targeted therapy. We make sure we catch everyone who will benefit from immunotherapy.

“Then we celebrate our victories,” Chris says. “Then people will understand that we’re not just supporting research but we’re building upon research that works. At the end of the day, none of it matters unless it’s making more survivors. That’s the reason we fight.”

Every player has a role

Chris applies the concept of team sports to winning as it applies to lung cancer. Every player — cancer centers, medical researchers and experts, patients, survivors, and caregivers — has an important role.

“The idea is that we’re a team and everyone has their position to play,” he says. “We need everyone. Anytime somebody shares, they let people know that anyone can get it, and that research matters, we win.

“It’s so important that we recognize it will not be one survivor who changes it. It won’t be one caregiver who does it. It’s not going to be one organization. It’s not going to be one cancer center. It’s going to take all of us. We need all hands on deck.”

Chris explained that cancer centers need to know that their patients want to step up and do more.

“In terms of progress,” he says, “realize that the stigma just represents ignorance. Anything that educates, anything that lets people know that anyone can get it, anything that celebrates survivorship as a goal and recognizes that research matters, that’s a win. This is our journey and this is our cross.”

The Chris Draft Family Foundation

One of the initiatives of the Chris Draft Family Foundation is the Super Bowl Challenge, a lung cancer awareness and fundraising campaign. Lung cancer survivors and cancer centers compete to raise funds. Teams raising more than $5,000 designate a charity beneficiary that will receive 80 percent of their raised funds. The event is a dream come true for the top teams, as well as a boost to lung cancer research.

Another initiative of Chris’ organization is to bring lung cancer patients to professional sports games. His motto: A Survivor at Every Game. Chris brings survivors not only to football games but hockey and even NASCAR.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.