Cai Fasse and Chrilz
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The Story
Cai Fasse
Chicago, IL
Caregiver to partner with Brain Cancer (Oligodendroglioma)
Twist on Cancer: There is no elegant or tactful way to describe my experience as a caregiver for my partner. Even though the cancer isn’t in my brain, it is ripping through my life at a thousand miles an hour. Being a caregiver for me was not heroic. It was a constant internal battle against feeling like everything was unfair. Against the part of me that wanted to give up and crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head, and sleep for days. Against the threat of resentment. Against the parts of me that cried out for attention and affection from a partner who understandably had no energy for anything other than sleeping and healing.

No one wants to talk about the reality of what it’s like to care for someone with cancer. Because it’s messy. It’s heartache. It’s trauma. It’s work. It’s more work. It also is the way I found out how deep my love goes both for him and myself. Because of all of his hard work healing and mine supporting him, he is still here. Talking about this experience is hard because I know there are people out there who have lost their loved ones. I get to sit here and cry a little about how hard everything was, and at the same time, feel tremendously grateful that he is still here.
Social Media: @chrilzart
Medium: Colored pencil and graphite on smooth Bristol paper
Dimensions: 8.5” x 15”, Unframed
Value: $1,000

Artist Statement: "Together" is the piece created as a fruit of my experience working with my inspiration, Cai, whose story is one of accompaniment. Their partner was unexpectedly diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer in 2017, forcing them into the role of caregiver and changing their lives and relationship completely. While stable, Bryan, Cai's partner, suffers from a form of cancer that is never really in remission, forcing the two of them to bear the weight of a looming uncertainty day after day. Even so, this threat is not one that has broken either of them, but instead been an opportunity for deeper love and growth.

I admire Cai's remarkable walk with cancer because they have chosen to fight alongside their partner in spite of all the physical, mental, and emotional challenges that have arisen over this six year battle. It is an example of sacrificial love that has borne fruit in Bryan's healing, and one of the most beautiful triumphs is how he has retained his personal identity through it all. At the core of Cai's story is their love for another, which gives them the strength to stay the course amidst the trauma, and the ability to cling to Bryan as a place of steady refuge. While the memories may remain painful and difficult to process, they are still a reminder of how outward defeat can actually become true, enduring victory. He has held it together because they walk together.