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Former Bear, Rush Patient Take on Lung Cancer

Rush doctors and Chris Draft, a former Chicago Bears linebacker, pose in front of a check.(Left to right: Philip Bonomi, MD, Jeffrey A. Borgia, PhD, Jill Feldman, Chris Draft, Pen Faber, MD, Mary Ellen Hand, RN, BSN, OCN)

Chris Draft, a former Chicago Bears linebacker, lost his wife Lakeasha to lung cancer when she was 38 years old — just one month after they married.

“Until recently, all anyone talked about in relation to lung cancer was prevention. We now need to understand it can happen to people who don’t smoke and focus on treatment,” said Draft, who, with his wife, created Team Draft, an initiative of the Chris Draft Family Foundation to raise awareness and funding for lung cancer treatment and research.

Team Draft works with cancer survivors and sports teams across the country to help support the medical centers where the patients received treatment.

Jill Feldman is among the survivors who partnered with Team Draft. She is a patient of Philip Bonomi, MD, professor of medical oncology and former director of Rush’s Division of Hematology, Oncology and Cell Therapy, and Mary Ellen Hand, RN, BSN, OCN, nurse coordinator at The Coleman Foundation Comprehensive Lung Cancer Clinic at Rush.

Feldman, a mother of four, lost her mother, father, aunt and other loved ones to lung cancer before she was diagnosed with the disease at age 39. Feldman has since faced recurrences after surgery and several treatments, and she continues to be monitored for any progression. She joined with Team Draft for the organization’s Lung Cancer Survivors Super Bowl Challenge fundraiser and chose Rush as her beneficiary.

Draft and Feldman came to Rush together in March to present a check from Team Draft for funding that will support innovative research and treatment efforts.

“The team here at Rush is cohesive and they communicate in a clear way you just don’t see everywhere,” said Feldman, whose parents were also treated at Rush. “It felt really good to be able to thank my team in a way that brought attention to the incredible care and compassion that they give patients every single day.”

The Team Draft funding will support efforts at Rush such as the development of a lung cancer screening test to find signs of the disease even earlier in people than is now possible. Efforts are also under way to lessen the toxic side effects associated with standard chemotherapy through treatments that are crafted more specifically to each patient.

“We want to let survivors, patients and their loved ones know that change is happening for lung cancer,” Draft said. “We want people in Chicago and around the country to know that Rush is among those leading the way.”

Learn more about supporting lung cancer research at Rush.

Also read more about Team Draft and Jill Feldman’s full story.

Read on for more Rush philanthropy news.

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