Life may be full of obstacles, but it’s in facing these obstacles that people become the best possible version of themselves. You have to make a choice: let hard times drag you down or allow them to make you that much stronger even in the face of tremendous odds.

When a man in Spain was diagnosed with a terrible illness, he was faced with a similar choice. He could either wallow in sorrow and despair, or he could try to make a difference. But he had no idea that what he decided to do would inspire thousands of people around him…

After beating leukemia the first time in 2015, 20-year-old Pablo Ráez of Marbella, Spain, was excited to return to his normal, active lifestyle. He worked hard to beat his cancer, and he was eager to get a second chance.

Sadly, the cancer came back about a year later. Pablo knew that this was a possibility when he was first diagnosed, but he was sure that he’d beaten the disease once and for all. All the same, he had no chance but face this illness head-on…

Unfortunately, Pablo’s doctors had to deliver terrible news: he didn’t have much time left. Instead of giving up, however, Pablo was determined. He didn’t want to let this tragic prognosis stop him from making a difference.

01-pablo-raez-martinezsrraez / Instagram

Starting with a hashtag campaign, #retounmillón (#onemillionchallenge), Pablo spent the majority of his time in treatment working on a special goal. He wanted to raise the number of bone marrow donors in Spain from 230,000 to one million.

So many people try to make their own hashtags go “viral,” but Pablo had something more important driving him: he wanted to save the lives of as many people suffering from cancer as possible.

For Pablo, focusing on the needs of others was central to his recovery. During his battle against cancer, he found that focusing on helping others really eased his mind and kept him distracted and inspired.

02-pablo-raez-martinezPablo Ráez Martinéz / Facebook

Pablo’s campaign meant more to him than just gaining notoriety. It was critical to him that he made a positive change in the world, and in reaching out, he was trying to raise awareness in a way that had never been done before…

Pablo’s campaign represented the voice of one real person asking others to donate bone marrow and help make a difference. So it was no surprise when Pablo’s friends immediately began sharing his #onemillionchallenge.

Pablo inspired everyone he met with his dedication to the cause of promoting bone marrow donations—even his doctors! How could it not? He had every excuse imaginable not to lift a finger—but he did anyway.

People from all over the globe moved to support him and the cause that he held so dear. It was a real testimony to just how hard he worked to make his dreams come true—not just for him, but for others. It brought people like his mother (pictured here) great comfort. 

At the beginning of 2017, Pablo’s cancer was growing worse. Before he lost the ability to do so, he decided to post a thoughtful message to his many fans on Instagram, letting them know what was on his mind…

It read: “I’ve been thinking about something that I’d like to share with you. We live in a society where we work and earn money by time, which means that we live for and by time.”

“We live like slaves in this system based on pure bureaucracy, ” he continued. These were not the gentle words many people expected to find from Pablo. He kept going with a warning to his friends and followers…

03-pablo-raez-martinezPablo Ráez Martinéz / Facebook

“The planet is deteriorating little by little, we are destroying it,” Pablo said. “We are melting the poles, we manufacture recklessly, we cause wars, kill people and we do so much more that is going to bring this world to its end, and we do all of this because of money.”

“We are not happy with what we have, we always wish for more. Life should be lived simply and in a system that looks after each person and after this beautiful planet,” he added.

Pablo was trying to think beyond his own illness—he wanted people to appreciate life in bigger terms. He kept writing: “We need to be happier and to see what we are doing for and to the world, we need to start realizing what is really important and we need to learn how to value it.”

04-pablo-raez-martinezsrraez / Instagram

His inspiring message only continued: “We need to love more, first of all ourselves and then the world… Let’s smile more, let’s give more hugs, more peace; let’s be the best version of ourselves.” This was certainly the way Pablo lived his life, and he knew inspiring others to give more was the legacy he wanted to leave after he was long gone…

He concluded his message with this: “Let’s be thankful to life for giving us the precious luxury of waking up every day, let’s be more grateful.” Considering what Pablo faced, and the strength and vitality the cancer took from him, it’s a wonder he had the fortitude to think this way even at the end.

Tragically, that was one of the last messages Pablo would write before losing his battle to cancer. Amazingly, he did live long enough to see his goal achieved: the number of bone marrow donors in Spain reached one million!

Pablo’s words and actions showed just how special he truly was. His legacy won’t just be carried on by his family and friends, but by everyone who had an opportunity to come into contact with his words…

What a heartbreaking story! When Pablo died, the world lost someone truly exceptional. The fact that he lived for so short a time and was able to make this much of a difference is all the proof you need that every waking moment is important.

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