TAMPA, Fla. — As a television reporter, Neil Vicino witnessed history in the making, but he never imagined his story would be one of the most fascinating. When doctors diagnosed Vicino with inoperable lung cancer in the summer of 2013, they told him he had about 18 months to live. However, Vicino was eligible for a clinical trial of the immunotherapy drug Opdivo. After several months, the cancer shrunk by 90%. Vicino is now on maintenance therapy and recently has his best CT scan to date.
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and on Thursday, Vicino will join former NFL player Chris Draft at 3 p.m. at Moffitt Cancer Center where they will observe a demonstration by Dr. Uwe Rix in the Lung Center of Excellence. They will also visit with Dr. Sandy Anderson of Moffitt’s Integrated Mathematical Oncology Department and learn more about how mathematical equations are personalizing cancer treatment and keeping the disease under control rather than trying to destroy it completely.
That evening, Vicino, lung cancer patient Dawn Owen and Ros Miller, the mother of a lung cancer patient who lost her battle with the disease, will be Draft’s guests of honor for the Tampa Bay Buccaneer’s game against the Atlanta Falcons at Raymond James Stadium. Draft lost his wife to lung cancer in 2011 and he formed Team Draft to raise awareness about this disease. His goal is to have a survivor at every stadium during football season.
WHAT: Former NFL player Chris Draft and lung cancer patient Neil Vicino tour Moffitt’s research center
WHERE: Meet at Gold Valet on the main campus of Moffitt Cancer Center, 12902 Magnolia Drive, Tampa, FL
WHEN: Thursday, Nov. 3, at 3 p.m.
INTERVIEWS: Former NFL player Chris Draft, lung cancer patient Neil Vicino, Moffitt researchers
About Moffitt Cancer Center
Moffitt is dedicated to one lifesaving mission: to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer. The Tampa-based facility is one of only 47 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s excellence in research, clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Moffitt is the No. 6 cancer hospital in the nation and has been listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of the “Best Hospitals” for cancer care since 1999. Moffitt devotes more than 2.5 million square feet to research and patient care. Moffitt’s expert nursing staff is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center with Magnet® status, its highest distinction. With more than 5,200 team members, Moffitt has an economic impact in the state of $2.1 billion. For more information, call 1-888-MOFFITT (1-888-663-3488), visit MOFFITT.org, and follow the momentum on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
About Team Draft
Team Draft is an initiative of the Chris Draft Family Foundation created by nationally recognized health advocate and former NFL linebacker, Chris Draft and his late wife, Keasha during Keasha’s year-long battle with lung cancer. Their hope was that Keasha’s valiant fight to dance, smile and live would give hope, comfort and inspiration to the patients, caregivers and healthcare providers who are battling the disease every day.
While attending Clemson University, Keasha was a member of the Rally Cat’s dance squad before graduating with a degree in Electrical Engineering. After graduation, Keasha worked as an engineer while dancing for the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets before working in the pharmaceutical industry. She was an energetic, vibrant young woman who had never smoked when she was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer in December 2010. At the time, her only “symptom” was a slight shortness of breath a few days earlier. Despite the diagnosis and knowing the long odds they faced, Keasha and Chris decided to fight back. On November 27, 2011, standing side-by-side, they launched Team Draft at their wedding. One month later, Keasha lost her courageous fight and died at the age of 38.
Team Draft is dedicated to raising lung cancer awareness and increasing badly needed research funding by shattering the misconception that lung cancer is a “smoker’s disease.” The fact is anybody can get lung cancer. Yet, despite the fact that between 20,000 and 30,000 people who have never smoked—including Keasha—are diagnosed with lung cancer in the United States each year, the smoking stigma negatively impacts lung cancer research funding, which pales in comparison to funding for other major cancers and diseases. Team Draft is out to change all that by using the unique platform available to Chris as a former NFL player and nationally recognized community leader and health advocate to lead a National Campaign to Change the Face of Lung Cancer—a campaign that has taken us to more than 130 of the top cancer treatment and research centers in North America.
What Is The Survivor At Every Stadium Initiative?
Through our Survivor at Every Stadium initiative, we are again working with each NFL team to arrange to have lung cancer survivors and lung cancer doctors from local cancer centers and their guests attend one of the team’s home games during the NFL season. Our goals are to create a unique experience for participating survivors and to raise awareness on a local and national level by using each game and each survivor’s story to weave a broader narrative about the state of lung cancer and the hope that now exists for those battling the disease.
We will kick off our 3rd Lung Cancer Survivors Super Bowl Challenge on November 1st, 2016, which will build on the success of our established Survivor Series by using the games at the heart of that initiative to create buzz for the Super Bowl Challenge and, in turn, funds for research and awareness.