Iluminada’s name means “illuminated” or “enlightenment” and she has been her family’s guiding light since day one. At the current age of 78, Iluminada is a mother to four children, a grandmother to nine grandchildren, and a great grandmother to a great grand-daughter. Affectionately known as “Mama,” she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2007 and has endured several treatments including thyroid removal surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and drug therapy. In 2019, her cancer developed into Metastatic thyroid cancer, also known as stage 4 thyroid cancer, which meant that it had spread from the thyroid gland to other areas of her body. As a result, Iluminada had to have a laryngectomy, which is a surgery to remove one’s voice box. This gave her a greater chance at extending her life, but it also meant that she would no longer have her natural voice.

For those who knew Iluminada prior to 2019, you knew that she was always the life of the party! To this day, she loves hosting parties and cooking various Filipino dishes. She enjoys spending time with friends and family and she doesn’t let her inability to speak naturally, or her cancer, get in the way of her daily activities. She attends church most everyday, unless she’s feeling a bit run down.

As residents of Lahaina, Maui, Iluminada and her family were recently impacted by the devastating wildfires in August 2023, which led to loss of their vehicle and employment. In addition, the medication required to treat Iluminada’s cancer has extremely high co-pays due to its limited availability and lack of generic options.

Although hour-long commutes to the doctor’s office in Wailuku can be a bit tiresome for her, she never complains one bit. Iluminada’s daughter, Merilou, shared, “I am a firm believer that her faith in God, as well as the medical treatment she’s getting, has kept her with us for the past 16 years! Our entire family is grateful to UVSC for providing the assistance our mom needs to continue fighting this disease. With your support, you are keeping the light within Iluminada alive.”


James Clover Bitzer is a lively 3 year old and “smart as a whip” says his dad, Jason Bitzer, a 15-year Lifeguard veteran on Oahu. Jason and his wife, Roberta Bitzer, an environmental scientist who is also very active with non-profit organizations on Oahu, are now in the biggest rescue attempt to help their son. James was recently diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma with an MIBG positive diagnosis. However there is hope at Sloan Kettering in New York, nearly 5,000 miles from Hawaii.

The family is currently at Sloan Kettering on the East Coast, as they cater to this specific disease. UVSC stands beside them to help provide that much needed strength and hope as they split their time between Hawaii and the East Coast and take on this daunting task and heavy costs.


In July 2022, our Kawaihala’ilanamalie, better known by her ‘ohana as Hala’i developed a lingering fever, stomach pains and began to limp. While traveling back and forth to O’ahu and undergoing numerous diagnostic tests, her parents, Lee Jon and Nalani never left her side.

On August 18, 2022, our sweet Hala’i was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma after a mass was detected between her right kidney and spine. Additional testing and biopsies have confirmed a stage 4 diagnosis as cancer has spread to her left thighbone and into her bone marrow.
Hala’i’s first round of chemotherapy was on September 13th at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children. Her initial treatment plan was for 21 days, followed by stem cell transplants and additional rounds of chemotherapy. Despite all of the discomfort our Hala’i has endured in the last several months, she still lights up the room with her beautiful smile and joyful spirit.

Ally Tamayose

My name is Ally Tamayose, I’m 16 years old and I’m from Pearl City, Hawaii. I was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma in my left femur in January 2018. In that same year I underwent nine months of chemotherapy and had a limb-salvage surgery.

In January 2019, scans revealed that the mets in my lungs had grown and I began another chemo road map and had my first double thoracotomy at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. In January 2020, I had a third thoracotomy done to remove more lung mets that had continued to grow.

In June 2020, I participated in a CART-2 clinical trial at Texas Children’s in Houston, Texas. Following the clinical trial, I had another double thoracotomy to remove more lung mets that had grown. I then began taking an immunotherapy drug in hopes that it would keep me stable but that medication ended up giving me really bad hand, arm, leg, and feet sores so we ultimately made the decision to stop the inhibitor. My sixth thoracotomy was done in April 2021 to remove more lung mets that had grown and I began taking oral chemotherapy. I was on that medication for about 7 months, but the mets in my lungs continued to grow. I had my seventh thoracotomy done in November 2021.

Following that surgery, I began to develop headaches and it worsened throughout the holiday season. As 2022 came around, I was scheduled to have my eighth thoracotomy done in early January but we had to postpone it after scans revealed a mass on my brain that was causing pressure and giving me headaches. I had a craniotomy done to remove the tumor on January 11, 2022 and had my thoracotomy done 2 weeks after that.

Following the craniotomy, I started brain radiation to help treat the mets in my brain and started taking two different medications in hopes that they can keep my lung and brain mets stable.

In April 2022, scans showed that the medications were working on my brain mets but not on my lung mets. It was decided at that time thoracotomies were no longer a safe option for me. We then looked for other treatment options and ended up choosing SBRT radiation treatments with immunotherapy infusions.

Currently, I just completed my first round of my new medication and SBRT to my lungs. These past 4 years have taught me a lot about cherishing life, having hope and staying positive. All of which helps me continue to fight cancer.