The Importance of Caregiving
- Canadian actor and musician Keanu Reeves, 58, recently kicked off his tour with nineties band Dogstar and took a vacation to Italy with his younger sister Kim Reeves, who endured a 10-year battle with blood cancer.
- Seeing Reeves spending time with his sister Kim reminds us how he served as Kim’s primary caretaker during her cancer journey—where Reeves put even put his career on hold to help her out.
- Leukemia is a blood cancer that develops when the body produces large quantities of abnormal white blood cells. These cells prevent the bone marrow from producing any other type of cell including, red blood cells and platelets.
- People like Kim Reeves can feel a wide range of emotions when confronted with a cancer diagnosis. Many may feel depressed, anxious, worried, overwhelmed, and even full of grief. Support your loved one as best you can, like Keanu Reeves did for his sister, by being a loving, listening ear and lending support.
- Dr. Scott Irwin, director of supportive care service at Cedars-Sinai, tells us about the grief that may accompany a cancer diagnosis. “Grief comes in waves,” he says. “It often gets better over time, but at certain days, it can look like depression. And other days, people look perfectly normal and can function.”
Canadian actor and musician Keanu Reeves, 58, has been busy lately as he recently kicked off his tour with nineties band Dogstar and took a vacation to Italy with his younger sister Kim Reeves, who endured a 10-year battle with blood cancer.
Reeves, a bassist in the American alternative rock band, performed with Dogstar for the first time in 20 years on August 10, in Hermosa Beach, California. And just days prior to that, he was spotted sailing around Capri with Kim.
According to the Daily Mail, Reeves was such a dedicated caretaker to his sister, that he sold his home to move closer to her during her time of need. He even reportedly spent $5million on various therapies to help her recovery.
Reeves, who dealt with his fair share of tragedies over the course of his life, including the loss of his daughter and partner. Despite his hardships, the beloved actor has coped well through these hard times, showing his strength and resilience.
Prior to losing his newborn daughter Ava, who was stillborn, Kim was diagnosed with leukemia in 1991. Following the news of her diagnosis, Reeves put his upcoming Matrix sequels on hold to make more time for his sister.
Reeves cooked her meals, cleaned her house, and even prepped her medications.
“She was always there for me, you know. I will always be here for her,” Reeves said in an earlier interview.
Back in 1995, Kim told PEOPLE, “My brother is my prince. He listens to every word, to every comma after every word, that you are saying.”
In 1999, Kim also spoke with Australian magazine Woman’s Day about how much her brother did for her during her cancer battle.
“Keanu helped me so much through my illness,” she told the news outlet. “When the pain got really bad, he would sit with me and hold my hand, and keep the ‘bad man’ from making me dance.”
She added, “He was supporting me and comforting me all the time, even when he was away.”
In addition to being so generous with his time during his sister’s fight with leukemia, Reeves donated 70% of his Matrix film earnings to cancer research.
After 10 years of treatment, Kim conquered the disease and inspired Reeves, also an older brother to his sisters Karina and half-sister Emma, to create a charity to help those facing cancer (but he did not link his name to the foundation).
He reportedly told Ladies Home Journal in 2009, “I have a private foundation that’s been running for five or six years, and it helps aid a couple of children’s hospitals and cancer research.
“I don’t like to attach my name to it, I just let the foundation do what it does.”
What Is Leukemia?
Leukemia is a blood cancer that develops when the body produces large quantities of abnormal white blood cells. These cells prevent the bone marrow from producing any other type of cell including, red blood cells and platelets.
“One cell got really selfish and decided that it needed to take up all the resources of everybody else, and, in doing so, took up space and energy from the rest of the body,” Dr. Nina Shah, a hematologist at University of California San Francisco, explained.
There are four basic categories doctors use to identify the different types of this blood cancer:
- Acute leukemia grows very quickly.
- Chronic leukemia grows more slowly, over several years.
- Lymphoid leukemia grows from lymphoid cells, which produce antibodies and protect against viruses.
- Myeloid leukemia grows from myeloid cells, which is the body’s first defense for bacteria.
What Is A Blood Cancer? How Is It Different?
In a more general sense, blood cancer means that your bone marrow is not functioning properly.
“And when your bone marrow doesn’t function correctly, it means that you can have something happen to you like anemia,” she said. “Or you can have low platelets, which makes it possible for you to bleed easily. Or your immune system is not functioning correctly.”
Symptoms of leukemia can vary depending on the type of leukemia and can present as seemingly benign. Common signs and symptoms of the disease include:
- Fever or chills
- Persistent fatigue, weakness
- Frequent or severe infections
- Losing weight without trying
- Swollen lymph nodes, enlarged liver or spleen
- Easy bleeding or bruising
- Recurrent nosebleeds
- Tiny red spots in your skin (petechiae)
- Excessive sweating, especially at night
- Bone pain or tenderness
These signs and symptoms are not exclusive to leukemia, but if you notice them or any other changes to your health, you should see a doctor promptly.