San Carlos, CA. Lung cancer survivor-advocate Elizabeth Dessureault chose the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation – Young Lung Study as her beneficiary of the funds that she raised during Team Draft’s 2017 Lung Cancer Survivors Super Bowl Challenge.
“Anyone with lungs can get lung cancer,” Elizabeth Dessureault liked to say.
“I’m hoping that by sharing my story with others that I’m able to change the face of lung cancer to show that a 26-year-old, non-smoking, new-mom-to-be can get lung cancer, then anybody can.”
Dessureault was pregnant and working as a teacher in Fort McMurray, Alta., when she was diagnosed in April 2015 with advanced stage non-small cell adenocarcinoma lung cancer. She moved back to Ottawa to be near family after a doctor gave her a year to live. But she vowed to fight the disease, to enjoy life with her new son, Jack, and her husband, Dax, an RCMP officer and former standout Ottawa Gee-Gees basketball star.
That her fight ended Saturday morning in hospital in Ottawa has devastated her friends and family and thousands of followers who found support and encouragement on her ‘From Lizzie’s Lungs’ health blog and Facebook page.
She was 27.
“We are all desperately sad here today. She leaves a huge impression on all the people she touched,” said Dr. Paul Wheatley-Price, president of Lung Cancer Canada and an oncologist at the Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre.
“That’s what Lizzie did so effectively — to bring to the public eye in that lung cancer can affect anyone. Such a beautiful young woman and such a positive attitude. She really just lit up every environment she was in.”
Founded by Draft and his late wife Keasha, who died of lung cancer in 2011 at the age of 38, Team Draft is dedicated to raising lung cancer awareness and increasing badly needed research funding through its Campaign To Change The Face Of Lung Cancer, which is committed to shattering the misconception that lung cancer is a “smoker’s disease.” The centerpiece of Team Draft’s Campaign is its annual Lung Cancer Survivors Super Bowl Challenge.
As Draft explains, “the Super Bowl Challenge gives us a unique opportunity to use the overwhelming media coverage surrounding the Super Bowl as a platform to raise critical public awareness about lung cancer on an international level. With the game as a backdrop, we can use each survivor’s story to weave a broader narrative about the state of lung cancer and the hope that now exists for those battling the disease.” And Team Draft’s efforts are paying off.
“The Super Bowl Challenge achieves amazing things in terms of public awareness and changing perceptions about lung cancer,” says Dr. Ross Camidge, the Director of Thoracic Oncology at Colorado University Cancer Center, the cancer center where two of last year’s Super Bowl Challenge winners were treated.
In addition to raising critical public awareness, the Super Bowl Challenge also raises funds for lung cancer organizations and treatment centers across North America. Last year, participants who raised more than $1,000< during the Super Bowl Challenge were able to commit 50% of the funds they raised to a lung cancer organization or cancer center of their choice.
Thanks to the overwhelming success of our annual Super Bowl Challenge, Team Draft is maintaining its commit to 50% if the survivors raise over $1,000, but if they raise over $5,000, their designated beneficiary will receive 80% with the remaining 20% going to support Team Draft’s mission to change the face of lung cancer.
Of this aspect of the Super Bowl Challenge, Dr. Camidge says, “you need somebody working on the national level. You need somebody working on the local level. Everybody wins.”
For the survivors who participate, the Super Bowl Challenge is so much more than just a fundraiser.
“Team Draft has really helped boost our family’s spirits during this challenging time,” says Dr. Lucy Kalanithi. In 2015, Lucy and her husband, Dr. Paul Kalanithi, won Team Draft’s inaugural Super Bowl Challenge and were able to join Team Draft in Phoenix, Arizona for Super Bowl 49. Paul went on to write the bestselling memoir When Breath Becomes Air — a powerful and moving chronicle of his life and lung cancer journey — before passing away at the age of 37.
2016 Super Bowl Challenge winner, Kim Ringen says, “As a lung cancer survivor, I would highly recommend to anybody to put your hat in the ring because it is so uplifting to be associated with a group of people that are coming together to make a difference.”
To learn more about Team Draft’s 2017 Lung Cancer Survivors Super Bowl Challenge, make a donation, visit https://www.crowdrise.com/2017SuperBowlChallenge.
Special thanks to the Jon Wilmot and the Wilmot Family, NFL, Astra Zeneca, and all of our Team Draft supporters for helping make this experience possible.
About Team Draft
Team Draft, an initiative of the Chris Draft Family Foundation, is dedicated to raising lung cancer awareness and increasing research funding by shattering the misconception that lung cancer is a “smoker’s disease.” Despite the fact that between 20,000 and 30,000 people who have never smoked are diagnosed with lung cancer in the United States each year, the smoking stigma negatively impacts lung cancer research funding, Team Draft is out to change all that. To learn more about Team Draft, share your story, or make a donation, please visit www.teamdraft.org.