Nashville, TN. Vanderbilt lung cancer survivor-advocate Stephen Huff represented Team Draft at Nissan Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Stephen and his wife Emily watched the Tennessee Titans defeat the visiting the Washington Redskins. #TheHuffProject
Stephen Huff grew up living and breathing baseball in Tennessee. He earned a college scholarship to as a pitcher to Austin Peay State University, where he was drafted by the Chicago White Sox. He was the epitome of health.
“Growing up as an athlete and being a pro athlete, exercise and taking care of my body was my way of life,” he told MensHealth.com. “I trained everyday, ran between 5-8 miles at a time. I’ve always been hyper vigilant about what I eat, what I drink. I always tried to eat organic. I mean, I was afraid to take Tylenol!”
A few years after leaving the minor league and time spent coaching baseball, he went back to school to get his teaching degree and start a new career. While finishing up his first year of teaching high school computer classes, he started feeling a bit off.
“I was very asymptomatic for a long time,” he said. “I had some vague symptoms—I felt like I had indigestion or heartburn. Towards the end of 2016 and early 2017, I developed a nagging cough and had a wheezing sensation.”….
Huff was diagnosed with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer on June 1, 2017. At that point, it had metastasized in his lymph nodes, chest, a small spot on his liver, and on his spinal chord near his tail bone. Doctors told him the five-year survival rate was under 5 percent.
“It felt like a death sentence,” he said.
“I was engaged, my fiancé Emily and I had just bought our first house, and we were getting married in three months. Cancer was nowhere in the plan. The first two weeks after I was diagnosed, I wasn’t sleeping or eating. I lost almost 20 pounds in 2 weeks.”
In 2012, we launched our inaugural Team Draft Survivor Series 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. Our Survivor at Every Stadium, leverages our connections with the NFL, its teams and players with our relationships with many of the top cancer centers in the country. As a part of our International Campaign, the games allow us to celebrate our survivors, raise awareness, and give hope to those battling the disease, as well as shine 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.
Team Draft’s fifth annual Lung Cancer Survivors Super Bowl Challenge kicked off on November 1, 2018. This unique fund raising challenge gives lung cancer survivors the opportunity to raise funds for public awareness and cutting-edge research that is giving new hope to those battling this often misunderstood disease. The top three fundraisers, announced on December 31, 2018, will earn trips to Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta, GA, the 2019 NFL Pro Bowl in Orlando, FL and the Taste of the NFL in Atlanta, GA. The survivors have an opportunity to share their powerful stories with key individuals with influence from across the country. #RepYourCity #RepYourCancerCenter #RepYourLCOrganization
**The lung cancer survivors that raise over $5,000 will be able to designated a beneficiary (Cancer Center or LC Organization) that will receive 80% of their raised funds (-fees) and the remaining 20% will support Team Draft’s mission to change the face of lung cancer.
Special thanks to the Astra Zeneca, the NFL and all of our Team Draft supporters for helping make this event possible.