Cancer patient advocate Chris Pablo dies at 59 - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Cancer patient advocate Chris Pablo dies at 59

Roger Ariola (left) and Chris Pablo Roger Ariola (left) and Chris Pablo
Roy Yonashiro Roy Yonashiro
Chris Pablo in August Chris Pablo in August

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Three weeks after he was diagnosed with leukemia, Chris Pablo found his reason for living inscribed on a golf ball.

His friend Kevin Walsh wrote about it.

"He went to the driving range one day. He found an odd ball in his basket. He plucked it out, inspected it, turned the ball on its side and saw the words "Beat Leukemia" looking back at him," Walsh said by phone from his home in Boston.

In 1996, Pablo received a successful bone marrow transplant. Roger Ariola was a perfect match. Pablo became cancer's worst nightmare.

"He said, 'You know, Roy, I was blessed to have leukemia.' I said, 'Blessed?' He goes, 'God gave me this opportunity to go out and help others.' That's how he took it," Roy Yonashiro said.

Yonashiro is with the Hawaii Bone Marrow Donor Registry. For thirteen years Pablo helped organize drives to expand the registry. He lobbied lawmakers on behalf of cancer patients and shared his story at the drop of a hat.

"When I would have patients that were diagnosed with leukemia, whether it be a little child or a young mother who had leukemia, I would ask him. I would just give him a call. He'd just tell me, 'What hospital? What room?'" Yonashiro said.

Walsh said he has never met a better family man or a better advocate for a cause.

Inspired by Pablo, Walsh became a bone marrow donor and wrote about it in a book that also tells Pablo's story.

"There was nobody that had more passion to live, to share with others how great his second chance at life was.than Chris Pablo," he said.

"I think he will still continue to touch people," Yonashiro said.

For the last eighteen months, Pablo suffered from another form of cancer.

When he died at a hospice center on Wednesday, he was 59. .

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