Patient and Former NFL Player Team Up to Support Lung Cancer Research, Spread Hope

AJ Hawk with Children and Santa

In July 2014, then 39-year-old husband and father of two young boys Dirk Bosgraf says he was “living the dream” – raising his kids in the same small town he grew up in when persistent shoulder pain and unexplained fevers sent him to the doctor. He received a shocking diagnosis: stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer. He jumped on a rollercoaster ride of treatment and did well until he experienced a recurrence in July 2016.

After undergoing whole brain irradiation for a lung metastasis to the brain, In January 2017 Dirk began treatment on a phase 1 clinical trial testing the combination of a two oral drugs: a targeted therapy (everolimus) and a kinase inhibitor drug (vandetanib).

“I still have treatment options because of the research taking place in NSCLC across the nation. I’ve been able to enjoy precious time with family and friends,” said Dirk in a recent blog post about his journey. “It is a ravaging thought that these current options won’t yet work for the majority of the hundreds of thousands of uncles, aunts, cousins, grandmothers, grandfathers, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, best friends and brothers and sisters who are in desperate need of them now but there is great comfort and hope in seeing the progress being made.”

Since that time, Dirk has been on a mission to raise money for lung cancer research.

On March 15, 2017, Dirk joined former NFL player Chris Draft to present a check for nearly $6,000 in support of lung cancer research to staff at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James). The duo presented another $6,000 check to the LUNGevity Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides lung cancer research grants.

The donation was made possible through a super bowl challenge competition sponsored by Team Draft, a non-profit foundation established by Draft and his late wife, Keasha Rutledge-Draft, dedicated to raising awareness of lung cancer and increasing research funding for the disease.

No. 1 Cause of Cancer-Related Death

Lung cancer remains the No. 1 cause of cancer-related death among both men and women in the United States. According to the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, each year more people die from lung cancer than colorectal, breast and prostate cancer combined.

“A decade ago, when patients walked in my clinic I could offer little in either treatment or hope,” says David Carbone, MD, PhD. “Now I greet patients knowing I can offer many of them treatment approaches that present something closer to a cure in the form of targeted therapies, immunotherapy drugs and improved chemotherapy regimens. Understanding the genetic drivers of their cancer is a critical first step.”

Statewide Study: Beating Lung Cancer in Ohio

This spring, the OSUCCC – James will begin recruiting advanced lung cancer patients into a new statewide research study, funded by Pelotonia and other philanthropy called “Beating Lung Cancer in Ohio.” The study has two goals: evaluate the survival and quality-of-life benefits of free up-front advanced gene and immunologic testing with advanced decision support, and helping smokers quit.

To learn more about the lung cancer team and ongoing clinical trials at the OSUCCC – James, visit cancer.osu.edu or call 1-800-293-5066

April 22 Event Supports Lung Cancer Research

People from the community interested in supporting lung cancer research at the OSUCCC – James are encouraged to attend the 2017 Breath of Hope Gala, held Saturday, April 22 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

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