Awareness • Early Detection • Treatment • Research • Survivorship

A Survivor at Every Stadium: Carolina Panthers

Charlotte, NC. Lung cancer survivor-advocates Edwina and Tomma represented Team Draft at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday. The survivors watched the undefeated Carolina Panthers improve their record to 10-0 by defeating the Washington Redskins. #Tacklinglungcancer #Levine #UNC #LCAM15


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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Eight years after her diagnosis, lung cancer survivor Tomma Hargraves is training to become a lay navigator with UNC Lineberger, giving back to the hospital that she credits with saving her life.

In October of 2006, Tomma Hargraves found a small lump in her neck. Although she felt very healthy, she went to her doctor to have the lump checked out. A few days later, she received a diagnosis that shocked her: Stage 3B non-small cell lung cancer. The tumor was in the right lobe of her lungs, and the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes on the left side of her neck.

“I wish I had known that non-smokers and people who had quit long ago could get lung cancer,” says Hargraves. I thought I had done everything right, and I still got lung cancer.”

After seeking several opinions and researching her treatment options, Hargraves decided on UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. Two things set UNC Lineberger apart for her. “I was offered an aggressive clinical trial that included chemo, radiation and a targeted oral medication,” she says. “But what I really loved about UNC was the team approach. I didn’t have to go from doctor to doctor. They all came to me in my room and talked to me about their roles: the radiation oncologist; the thoracic oncologist; the nurse navigator. The N.C. Cancer Hospital has such a warm atmosphere, and I feel like the people really care about me.”

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In 2012, we, Team Draft, launched our inaugural Survivor at Every Stadium initiative on CNN during a nationally-televised prime time special focusing on lung cancer and our National Campaign to Change the Face of Lung Cancer.

Leveraging our connections with the NFL, its teams and players and our relationships with many of the top cancer centers in the country, As part of our National Campaign, this celebration of survivorship raises lung cancer awareness, gives hope to those battling the disease, and shines a light on the important work being done at cancer research and treatment centers around the country.

Team Draft’s goals are to create a unique experience for participating survivors and to raise awareness on a local, national, and international level by using each game and each survivor’s story to weave a broader narrative about the state of cancer and the hope that now exists for those battling the disease.

Special thanks to the Carolina Panthers, Levine Cancer Institute, UNC Lineberger Cancer Center and our Team Draft supporters for helping make this experience possible.

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