Chris Draft emphasizes the importance of fighting for survivors in the lung cancer community and hearing their journeys, encouraging them to stand up and raise more awareness.
PUBLISHED November 06, 2017
Chris Draft: The stories of survivors are extremely important, but I would say that their unique and special journeys are important because people need to know why it should matter. Why should it matter to them? Right? We know the numbers are terrible. Lung cancer kills more than breast, prostate, colon, and pancreatic cancers combined. Those are bad. If you don’t believe that it can happen to you, bad things happen all over the world every day. If it doesn’t seem like it is personal to you, if it doesn’t seem like it really invades your community, people don’t do anything about it. And so, with lung cancer, the stories of journeys of our survivors, or how they actually connect with the communities are so important for someone believing it could happen to them.
What matters is not their lung cancer journey, but the journey that is their life. They’re not just a number. They’re a person. We’ve got to make sure that people can see that. They’re not going to care about lung cancer. They’re not going to do that. What they’re going to care about is people. And so, our biggest message, besides changing the face of lung cancer, is that we are not fighting against lung cancer, we’re fighting for people.
My wish for them would be that they’re absolutely empowered with information so that they know all the resources are there. It doesn’t mean it’s all going to work, and we know that. But you know all the information and have a great relationship with your primary care doctor, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, or whomever those people are. You feel comfortable that you know where you stand. Right?
On the other side, you have a tremendous group of people—people that aren’t going to just look at you like you are cancer, like you’re gone, or that you’re a number. You have people around you that realize that you’re still alive. You’re still here, and every day that you are is a blessing. So, how do we make sure that we enjoy it? With all of this craziness in this cancer, we still have to make sure that we enjoy it. Otherwise, the cancer already got you. We can’t let that happen. If it does, it will. But until it does, we have to make sure we continue living.
When we started out, it was absolutely important for us to identify our survivors and realize it’s very difficult to be an advocate. It’s very difficult to want to stand up. Possibly, you don’t know what to do. And so, you don’t raise your hand. You don’t just run out there, although some people are going to. But they need help and they need support. You can’t look at somebody and think that there’s no way that they’re going to be an advocate, or that there’s no way they’re going to do more until you build a relationship with them. And so, that’s what we’ve been committed to doing through Team Draft—building a relationship with our survivors, and walking with them and realizing that just because they start at this point doesn’t mean that later on they’re not going to want to do more.
The other side is building a relationship with our cancer centers. Cancer centers might want to do something with lung cancer but may be hesitant because they don’t have a spokesperson. And so, they’re waiting. When they get that spokesperson, they’re going to have a chance to do more.
How do we make sure our survivors realize that they’re actually key to making their cancer center know they can do more? You can’t sit back and say, “Why doesn’t my cancer center do more? Why don’t they do more?” They probably need you. They need somebody. They need a person that will stand up and show people what lung cancer looks like, if they’re going to be able to do more. And so, it really allows us to activate an initiative where, potentially, there wasn’t something going on or where there was a lack of awareness. But it has really just required building a relationship with a survivor, building a relationship with a cancer center, and bringing them together. Then, all of a sudden, you have a huge amount of awareness.