Cancer is something that lives in the back of everyone’s mind. It is inherently agreed upon that yes, it is one of the worst things in the world, but it doesn’t necessarily dictate your everyday life or decisions. It stays in the back of your mind, that is, until cancer pushes its way to the forefront.

Almost everyone knows someone affected by this disease, and it is awful. I’d say my family has been pretty lucky, but the disease is still prevalent in my life and its impact is always felt.

Every time I hear a story of anyone affected, I tear up, but even more so for the younger patients – the ones who should have had so much more time to live. Recently, the story of one 17 year-old boy stood out and has truly affected my perspective on life.

Meet Zach Sobiech. At the age of 14, he discovered he had a rare form of cancer – osteosarcoma – and soon, the disease spread to his pelvis and lungs. After weighing the options between quality of life and a surgery that would render him unable to sit up, Zach decided he wanted to be out living what was left of his life, forgoing surgery.

The life he lived in that time is incredible. After being informed he had months to live, Zach spent countless hours with family and friends, continued going to school, and, you know, became a rock star. Through his YouTube channel, his original song “Clouds” took off, surpassing over three million views.

Below is the video documentary that introduced me to Zach, and it is part of a series called “My Last Days”. This video continues to provide inspiration for our cause with Dance Marathon, but be warned, watch it in private, unless you’re into the whole crying in public thing.

Zach passed away on May 20th, but his impact is not quickly forgotten. He left me with a rejuvenated spirit, as well as this quote: “I want everyone to know: You don’t have to find out you’re dying to start living.”

By: Kristi Rose