Guild members at The Canadian Press are mourning the loss of one of their own – a person who was once a bright light in CP’s Vancouver bureau.
Keven Drews, 45, died May 2 following a 15-year struggle with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells.
He is remembered as a source of inspiration to his journalistic colleagues, but mostly he was a devoted father who had a passion for life, despite his battle.
As many of you may recall, a fundraising campaign was started last fall when the possibility of a trial therapy became open to Keven. However, in the end, he was deemed not eligible for the treatment.
We at The Canadian Press are grateful for the Guild’s donation of $1,000 toward that fund.
The CP branch, along with the Vancouver local, have also agreed to donate another $1,000 in total to help the Drews family at this difficult time.
Keven leaves behind wife, Yvette, and seven-year-old twins Elleree and Tristan, who is on the autism spectrum.
Keven Drew with his wife Yvette, and their twins Elleree and Tristan
I only met Keven twice during visits to Vancouver and remember him as an energetic man with lots of ideas swirling in his head. But of course, his colleagues in Vancouver knew him best.
Location unit leader Camille Bains offered her thoughts about Keven, and her note to me captures his spirit in heartfelt remembrance:
“Keven fought a 15-year battle with cancer but never gave up hope. One day he walked into the office and announced: “I think I could live like an AIDS patient!” He was happy about the possibility of having a chronic disease. If only. Keven had toiled in smaller publications and even started an online service called the Westcoaster before landing at CP. He was the most grateful person ever to be working at CP. Someone would complain and he’d say: “But we get to work for The Canadian Press!”
In his last couple of weeks at the bureau in February 2016, Keven was really struggling. It was tough to see him so exhausted. I wished he would stay home and told him so. He said it took all of his energy just to get to work. His doctor finally said he couldn’t work, and that was tough for Kev. But then came news that he could get treatment in Seattle — for half a million dollars U.S. They gathered friends to start a GoFundMe campaign. Keven was interviewed by several news outlets. He went on CKNW and told his story. Only about $30,000 was raised through GoFundMe but it helped Kev and Yvette with expenses as they made several trips to see doctors in Seattle. Then he found out he didn’t qualify for treatment. The multiple myeloma was winning, and Keven started realizing that was it. So off he went to Tofino to buy a plot and bid farewell to the people he’d known there for years. It was Keven’s goodbye tour.
I saw Keven in hospice last Sunday. He was on oxygen and his breathing was very laboured. He could barely open his eyes. I sat there holding his hand and told him we were all thinking of him at work, that Yvette and Elleree and Tristan would be OK. He spoke a couple of half sentences. I didn’t think he knew who was sitting at his bedside. As I was leaving, he said: “Thanks for coming, Camille.” Not to sound corny, but I believe he is thanking our union for supporting his family.”