Former Panthers linebacker Chris Draft has spent the last six years as an advocate for lung cancer research after the death of his wife Keasha.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Lung cancer is the deadliest of all cancers and is striking victims that you wouldn’t expect: young, non-smoking women.
Several weeks ago, NBC Charlotte aired a story about five Charlotte women, all non-smokers, who were battling stage 4 lung cancer at Levine Cancer Institute.
Former Carolina Panther linebacker Chris Draft caught wind of the story from a viewer. Draft, who now lives in Atlanta, visited with the women just days later.
“Why do I drive up? Why did I come here from Atlanta? Anywhere we can tell somebody that this is real, to let them know anyone can get it, we gotta (sic) go,” Draft said.
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He is a passionate advocate for lung cancer awareness because he knows the devastating disease all too well.
“Every room she came in she lifted,” Draft said, describing his wife Keasha.
Chris met his wife Keasha — a Clemson University graduate, electrical engineer and one time Honeybee dancer for the Hornets — in Charlotte.
“Next thing you know, she had a little shortness of breath,” he said. “Goes to a primary care doctor. Lung cancer. Thirty-seven years old, amazing shape, never smoked. I mean, this is a dancer.”
The two married despite her diagnosis.
“We were able to get married in November 2011 and on that day we made two commitments. One to each other and another to the lung cancer community,” Draft shared.
Keasha died just one month after their wedding. Draft has spent the last six years as an advocate. He brought the five women he met flowers and joined them for a candid conversation.
“When you see the five ladies, they’re actually speaking for everyone else,” he explained.
Draft wants people to understand — anyone can get lung cancer — but he also wants people to know they are making strides in the fight against the deadliest cancer of them all.
“There are great things happening, saving lives and because anyone can get it, those lives could be yours.”