Elisha-Rio P. Apilado
Forest Park, Illinois
Caregiver for my father who passed away from lung cancer in February 2019
Twist on Cancer: My father's first fight with lung cancer was back in 2005, and he fought it on and off throughout the years. In 2018, cancer came back stronger than before, and this was the first time my dad would have to do full-on chemotherapy and radiation. Being Filipino with family first values challenged my outlook and made me battle a lot between my individualistic and collectivistic cultural identities issues.
My dad's long fight with cancer proves his resiliency, especially since it's a value in my culture. I believe seeing up close the Filipino values of resiliency and family has helped me ground myself and my values - if anything, it has solidified something I've always questioned or was unsure of. I've learned to be more patient and to never really make set plans as life can throw things a lot at you. It's better not to have expectations, but to adapt to the ebbs and flows of life. Being a Catholic, my faith strengthened. I'm a firm believer in the afterlife, and my mom and I would get signs from him or visits in my dream, so I never really feel like he's left.
My dad's journey has influenced my art therapy career, as working in a hospital setting with cancer patients is my clinical internship. I also was influenced to look more into grief/bereavement in my grad school research and how other cultures view death and dying. I'm hoping my dad is beaming with pride up there in heaven.