Monday, June 29, 2009

Meet Pablo...

When's the last time you cried - and I mean really cried - for someone you've never met before?

The type of cry that hurts so much it burns your insides. The type of cry that reminds you that you're alive. And the type of cry that makes you appreciate even the smallest blessings that life has to offer.

Meet Pablo.

He's not the King of Pop, and he's not one of Charlie's Angels. He's both, rolled into one. And he's so much more.

Little more than a year ago, on May 17, Pablo was diagnosed with bilateral Wilms' Tumor, a rare form of children's cancer. It is a cancer that, when discovered early, is curable in 90-percent of its cases.

Pablo was not one of those cases.

On Saturday, June 27, he passed on to the next life.

Unfortunately, that does not make Pablo unique. What makes Pablo unique, is that through his family's blog - PABLOg! - thousands of people have traveled the Castelaz family's rocky road alongside them. Some lending vocal support along the way, others - like myself - reading silently, cheering them on with a prayer before they close their eyes at night, or offering a reflection after catching up in a moment of downtime throughout their day.

In a world run amok with tabloid ethos, I beg you all to read about their voyage. I recommend starting at June 21, Pablo's sixth birthday, and continuing from there. You'll be glad you did. This is one case where knowing how the story ends will truly make you appreciate its early chapters even more.

You see, Pablo is a superhero. He is every child stricken by cancer, every child that fights, and every child that endures that struggle with a smile on their face, because they don't know any other way.

Pablo is the embodiment of every child that is braver than you and I. Of every child that is stronger than you and I. And of every child who we hope and pray might not become our own, because we don't know that we'd ever have the strength to cope.

All the while, the child copes because it's all they know how to do.

And their family copes because it's all their love allows them to do.

I learned of Pablo through the social networking grapevine, because I went to college with his father. We weren't friends, but we knew each other, working together in the programming branch of Marquette Universitys' student government. Life brought us both from Milwaukee to Los Angeles, and life led us both to the music industry. We ran into each other once a few years ago and exchanged pleasantries, but little more.

I don't know him as well as some people know the waitstaff at their favorite restaurant. And he may not recall me at all. Yet through the magic of Pablo, I feel like I know him better than I know some of my closest friends.

And I admire him, and his family.

What the Castelaz family shared with Pablo in the past thirteen months is more than most people get to experience in a lifetime. A world of joy and sorrow, driven by tragedy and fueled by love.

Nobody knows why cancer chooses the victims it does, but I do know this - I don't consider Pablo a victim. I consider him a hero.

And though they'll deny it with every essence of their being, Pablo's family are heroes, too. They are heroes for sharing their strength with the world. Sharing their fear. Sharing their hope. And sharing their life.

I could share some of Pablo's stories here, and I expect that you would cry like I am as I type this. But I wouldn't do the stories justice, and they would lose the impact of getting to know Pablo yourself, and taking his journey with him.

To truly appreciate the joy that life has to offer, we must embrace the sorrow that comes with it.

The Castelaz family embraced sorrow, and crushed it with joy.

We should all be so strong.

Read Pablo's story here, at PABLOg!

Please visit The Pablove Foundation online at


The Pablove Foundation is named after Pablo Castelaz, the six-year-old son of Dangerbird Records co-founder Jeff Castelaz and his wife Jo Ann Thrailkill. On May 17, 2008, Pablo was diagnosed with bilateral Wilms' Tumor, a rare form of children's cancer. The cancer appeared out of nowhere, with no warning signs in Pablo's general demeanor or health. Thanks to decades of research and treatment at places like Children's Hospital Los Angeles, where Pablo was treated, Wilms' Tumor is over 90% curable.

CHLA is a not-for-profit, independent operation. They treat everyone, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. In 2007, they treated over 93,000 children, and distributed $54 million in charitable care to children whose families were not able to pay for treatment, or who simply do not have insurance. The Pablove Foundation directly supports the pediatric cancer community in and around CHLA.

Specifically, the Pablove Foundation will make an annual contribution to cancer research and treatment at CHLA's Saban Research Institute, one of the top cancer research facilities in the United States. It will also support play activities, music and arts programs and sponsor play rooms in the soft tumor units at CHLA.

No comments: