Awareness • Early Detection • Treatment • Research • Survivorship

The White Ribbon Project comes to cancer center to shine light on deadliest of cancers


Retired linebacker Chris Draft, who played on the 49ers and the Falcons as well as other NFL teams, was at UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center on Tuesday, Aug. 24, to acknowledge efforts by the cancer center to tackle lung cancer.

Draft is a national spokesperson for The White Ribbon Project, an international grassroots movement to raise awareness about lung cancer. He was joined by local lung cancer patient advocates in a ceremony to honor four thoracic specialists at UC Davis Health who are aggressively taking on lung cancer through research and innovative treatments.

“I’m here to present white ribbons to the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, which is working to change the face of lung cancer,” said Draft who lost his wife Keasha to lung cancer in 2011. “Each ribbon is made with love and intended to break down the stigma of lung cancer by defeating it with love. We thank the cancer center and these doctors for all they are doing to fight the deadly disease.”

Wooden white ribbons were presented to David Tom Cooke, chief of general thoracic surgery at UC Davis along with surgeons Lisa Brown and Luis Godoy as well as general thoracic nurse coordinator Valerie Kuderer. White ribbons were also given in a later presentation to UC Davis oncologist Jonathan Riess as well as research team members Ashley Linh-Dang, Stacy Joo, Diem Li and Megan Jones.

According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women, making up almost 25% of all cancer deaths. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.

Cooke said during the ceremony in front of the cancer center, “It doesn’t matter if you are Black, white, Asian American or Latino, lung cancer is a killer and, while we are making great strides, we need more research funding to take on this disease.”

Several family members of those lost to lung cancer attended the ceremony and signed the backs of the nearly two-foot-tall white ribbon plaques that will be hung at the cancer center.

“Thank you, UC Davis. You are providing us hope,” said Draft who was standing next to a stage IV lung cancer patient attending the event.

“What drives us is hearing stories like those shared today. It makes us work all that much harder to find a cure,” Cooke said.

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated center serving the Central Valley and inland Northern California, a region of more than 6 million people. Its specialists provide compassionate, comprehensive care for more than 15,000 adults and children every year and access to more than 150 active clinical trials at any given time. Its innovative research program engages more than 225 scientists at UC Davis who work collaboratively to advance discovery of new tools to diagnose and treat cancer. Patients have access to leading-edge care, including immunotherapy and other targeted treatments. Its Office of Community Outreach and Engagement addresses disparities in cancer outcomes across diverse populations, and the cancer center provides comprehensive education and workforce development programs for the next generation of clinicians and scientists. For more information, visit