A fundraising campaign aims to give a Surrey father and journalist a fighting chance at beating cancer in a new clinical trial.
“This is it,” Keven Drews, 45, told the Now-Leader. “If I don’t do it, I die.”
Drews said he’s not just fighting for himself, but for his whole family.
Cancer isn’t the only struggle they face. Drews and his wife Yvette are raising twins, Elleree and Tristan, the latter of whom has autism.
“That’s one of the reasons I’ve got to fight so hard. I can’t leave that responsibility with my wife,” said Drews, who is currently on medical leave from Canadian Press news service. “Autism, that’s enough to break people. To break couples. To ruin marriages. Some people can’t deal with that. We’re dealing with that and we’re dealing with cancer. I would hate for my wife to have to deal entirely with my son on top of working.
“I gotta stick around for a bit,” added the Rosemary Heights resident.
It’s been a long journey so far.
Keven Drews was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, cancer of the plasma cells, in 2003.
The disease starts in the marrow and essentially “breaks and buckles bone from the inside,” said Drews.
It’s a type of cancer that typically attacks people in their 50s, 60s and 70s, he explained.
“People thought it was a slipped disc or I’d done something to my back,” he said of medical attempts to diagnose him.
At one point, his vertebrae actually came apart.
“The pain was so bad… it was like being stabbed in the back with a blunt knife.”
That led to him getting a private MRI done in Richmond.
It wasn’t long before he was called in to Royal Columbian Hospital, where he was told he had cancer.
“It really felt like I was disassociated from my body,” he said. “I felt like I was not there, like it was a movie. Just a complete loss of control over yourself. I don’t mean crying, you just get this sense, what just happened? This force has come into my life and I was just numb.”
|Keven Drews and his wife Yvette with their twins, Elleree and Tristan. (Photo: Facebook)|
Since being diagnosed, Drews has undergone a stem cell transplant as well as multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
After multiple relapses, Drews and his family are now hoping to raise enough money to send him to a clinical trial based in Seattle.
The trial develops what’s called “CAR T” cell therapy, which would involve “medical staff remove from his body and then re-engineer in a lab T cells, the immune system’s killer cells, before infusing them back into his blood stream to attack the cancer.”
Drews said he heard about the trial from his specialist.
“She’s kept me alive for 14 years, so I’m not going to stop listening to her now,” he laughed.
Drews said he’s had preliminary talks with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, where the trial is based out of.
“If I get accepted, I’m going to have to pay for everything from a medication tablet to blood work to hospitalization for a week, and what happens if I end up in ICU?”
It’s estimated to cost up to CAD$675,000.
And, it’s not a sure thing.
“This is experimental stuff, this is a real clinical trial,” he said. “They’ve done these, they’re run clinical trials for other types of cancer…. and no one knows what the long-term effects are…. But if I don’t do this, there are no other choices.”
On Monday, he said he’d have to come up US$1,600 in the next few days in order to get a consultation appointment in Seattle.
He thinks he has a pretty good chance at acceptance, as he’s studied the inclusion and exclusion rules.
“If they accept you, you’ve got to have the money in your account. How fast can I raise this?” Drews said. “We just thought we can’t sit around because of how quickly things move. You gotta fight.”
Drews said he hopes to use his situation to teach his children a lesson about life.
“I want to teach them about resilience,” he said in a YouTube video. “I want to teach them what it means to fight for your life. So please, please, consider donating to my campaign.”
— Keven Drews (@MadatMyeloma) November 6, 2017
Friends and family of the father of two have launched a GoFundMe campaign, dubbing it “Mad at Myeloma.”
They aim to raise at least US$500,000 for the trail because without private insurance in the Unites States, he would have to cover the costs before treatment could even begin.
The campaign, launched Sunday (Nov. 5), was trending after raising more than $1,400 in less than 24 hours.
“Yes, the expected cost is staggering, but Kev’s no quitter, and neither are we – his friends and family,” Sally Mole of Ucluelet, B.C., wrote on his fundraising page. “We’re asking you to help support Kev, his wife and kids as they confront their biggest challenge to date.”
She added: “Help Kev live. Help him in the fight of his life.”
Over his career, Drews has worked at newspapers in B.C. and Washington state.
He grew up in Metro Vancouver after being born in Spokane, Wash.
After attending school in Surrey, he graduated from UBC and earned a post-degree certificate in journalism from Langara College.
He even continued his education while undergoing chemo, completing an MFA in creative nonfiction at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash.
Drews’ wife Yvette is a Surrey teacher, where their children go to school.
See more at gofundme.com/madatmyeloma.