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.”