Awareness • Early Detection • Treatment • Research • Survivorship

A Survivor at Every Arena: Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte, NC. Levine Cancer Institute lung cancer survivor Edwina represented Team Draft, with Keasha Draft’s parents, at the Time Warner Cable Arena on Monday night. She watched the Charlotte Hornets defeat the Detroit Pistons. #HoneyBees #Keasha #ASurvivoratEveryArena #BuzzCity

After graduation, Team Draft co-founder Keasha Rutledge Draft worked as an engineer while dancing for the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets before working in the pharmaceutical industry. She was an energetic, vibrant young woman who had never smoked when she was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer in December 2010. At the time, her only “symptom” was a slight shortness of breath a few days earlier. Despite the diagnosis and knowing the long odds they faced, Keasha and Chris decided to fight back. On November 27, 2011, standing side-by-side, they launched Team Draft at their wedding. One month later, Keasha lost her courageous fight and died at the age of 38.


Edwina hadn’t smoked a day in her life, yet she was faced with the reality of having a stage of lung cancer where 50% of patients don’t make it past a year. Lung cancer often goes undiagnosed in its early stages and Edwina experienced no warning signs that it had spread to other areas of her body…

Because of Levine Cancer Institute’s integrated approach to cancer care delivery, Edwina was able to receive all her care without leaving the Charlotte/Monroe area. It also kept her close to another integrated system – a circle of family members who all live along the same stretch of road in rural Monroe.

“I’m the youngest of 11 children,” said Edwina. “My family treated me the way I was acting – like everything was going to be all right. They kept encouraging me as if I wasn’t handed a bunch of bad news. Looking back on it, I wonder, ‘How did I do that? How did I make it through? It was God’s grace and mercy and the prayers of my loved ones that brought me through this. I could have never made it without God, and the support of the Levine Cancer Institute Team.”

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Team Draft is dedicated to raising lung cancer awareness and increasing badly needed research funding by shattering the misconception that lung cancer is a “smoker’s disease.” The fact is anybody can get lung cancer. Yet, despite the fact that between 20,000 and 30,000 people who have never smoked—including Keasha—are diagnosed with lung cancer in the United States each year, the smoking stigma negatively impacts lung cancer research funding, which pales in comparison to funding for other major cancers and diseases. Team Draft is out to change all that by using the unique platform available to Chris as a former NFL player and nationally recognized community leader and health advocate to lead a National Campaign to Change the Face of Lung Cancer—a campaign that has taken us to more than 100 of the top cancer treatment and research centers in the United States and Canada.

Through our Survivor at Every Arena initiative, we are working with all 30 NBA teams to have a lung cancer survivor from a local cancer center and their guests attend one of the team’s home games.

Our goals are to create a unique experience for participating survivors and to raise awareness on a local and national level by using each game and 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.

Special thanks to the Charlotte Hornets, Levine Cancer Institute, Dr. Edward Kim and our Team Draft’s supporters for helping make this experience possible.

Donate now to Support the National Campaign to Change the Face of Lung Cancer!