SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Chris Draft is a former NFL player and a lung cancer advocate. Today he joined the medical professionals and survivors fighting against lung cancer at St. Joseph’s/Candler to raise awareness about this illness.
“Honoring my wife is really honoring the commitment that we made and that was to the lung cancer community,” says Chris Draft.
For Draft, the journey to becoming a lung cancer advocate began with the loss of a loved one.
“My wife Keasha was diagnosed in December of 2010 and unfortunately passed a year later in December of 2011,” Draft said.
Keasha Draft was just 37 at the time, the diagnosis coming as a shock.
Draft says his wife had never smoked and was the picture of health.
“37 years old, in amazing shape and then she had just a little shortness of breath,” says Draft.
Now, Draft is dedicated to spreading awareness that lung cancer can affect anyone.
Monday, he joined the St. Joseph’s/Candler Cancer Research Team to share his experience and celebrate the White Ribbon Project. This initiative focuses on starting conversations about the prevalence of this disease.
“Too often it’s diagnosed late stage, stage three and stage four, she went from challenging me to do… a 10k race to a couple months later stage four lung cancer,” Draft said.
The white ribbon is more than just a symbol, advocates say it is a reminder that can save lives.
“This is not just a message just for somebody who has it right now but for everybody in the crowd if we really believe that anyone can get it, were sharing that information so that they’re aware and that they can now invest in the future of lung cancer.”
This message strikes a chord for Denitra Hammond. She’s an educator, a mother, a savannah resident and she’s currently battling lung cancer.
“I teared up a little bit because I can understand what he was going through but by the grace of God and my family and my supporters we got this fight going and I’m very happy for that,” says Hammond
In the continuing fight against lung cancer, one message remains clear.
“There’s hope,” says Draft.
The St. Joseph’s/Candler Center for Imaging Services and The Nancy N. and J.C. Lewis Cancer and Research Pavilion, encourages those who are eligible to have a lung cancer screening. For more information on locations or to see if you qualify CLICK HERE.