Eugene Cho

“innerview” – 20th anniversary of brain tumor

Couple weeks ago, I shared the story of Chad who was celebrating 20 years of life after being diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of 12.  This past weekend, we had a chance to “innerview” him and shared the video below at the Quest Church services.

As a pastor, I know I’m not supposed to have “favorites” but there’s something about Chad that just encourages my soul.  If you have six minutes, check out his story.  While it’s unique, it’s really like all of our stories…our need for community and Christ.

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Please take a few moments to read this story of hope, courage, and faith – not lived in isolation but in community.  Chad was diagnosed with brain tumor 20 years ago.  His future was uncertain but 20 years later, he has been a source of great courage, inspiration, and blessing to so many.

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I first “met” Chad over email.  He randomly emailed me years ago.  He introduced himself, shared he might be moving to Seattle from Chicago, and offered his friendship and prayers.  I thought he was weird until I finally met him and realized that his correspondence was genuine.  He is one amazing guy. I later met his fiancee and eventually had the privilege of flying out to Iowa to officiate their wedding.  Yes, some pastors have all the luck.

This month, Chad celebrated the 20th year anniversary of his brain tumor diagnosis that has forever changed his life.  He was twelve then and doctors were unsure what the future would hold for him.  But over the last 20 years, Chad has lived to bless so many people.  Last night, I had the privilege of joining a “celebration of life” with Chad and his wife, Melinda, their family, and a bunch of folks in the church community group.  With permission, I am sharing a gliimpse of his story as shared by his wife, Melinda and his family.  

Twenty years ago this month, Chad was diagnosed with the brain tumor that has changed our lives forever.   Your prayers through the years have sustained and strengthened each of us.  We have learned so much about God’s love through your friendship and acts of presence and love.  We have learned new ways to trust.   We know that God’s promises are true.  We thank you for your part in our lives, in the story of our faith.

 

God has answered many prayers along the way.  Chad completed high school.  The whole family went with him on his Make A Wish trip to France and visited old friends.  He went to college in Canada and in Chicago.  We all spent almost a year in Spain as he tried a form of acupuncture.  He earned a Masters’ in Family and Marriage Counseling with a Medical Crisis specialty in Seattle.  He got married to a wonderful woman named Melinda in August 2003, in Iowa.  They have lived in Seattle ever since.  Melinda has been a huge gift and support to Chad and a great gift to all the rest of us.  Chad has an interesting job.  As of September 2007 he has been working in the Bilingual Orientation Campus for junior high and high school students who’ve moved to Seattle from 40 different countries, and are learning to fit into the US school system.  He knows what it’s like to be different, to learn a new language and culture, and to stand out visually.

 

We continue to pray for physical healing for Chad, but we’re thankful for the ways God is using him in our lives to be a blessing.  People around the world have prayed for him.  What a strength that connection is!  What a common thread and connection prayer is!  We are so thankful!  And we continue to pray for Chad, as we pray for so many others who enter our lives.  The surrounding culture celebrates strength, independent action, beauty and ability; we have learned from Chad’s example to live with our weakness and God’s strength.  Chad has lived it before us.  He still sleeps with a machine to help him breathe, though the technology has improved and the machine is small and light.  He has a forearm brace named “Silver” for walks and a motorized cart for longer distances.  He still speaks softly, has some trouble swallowing, can’t feel the edges of his skin (like the bottoms of his feet, for instance), and has learned to live with spasms in the optic nerve that leave him in a fog, unable to see.  He is still stubborn and has a disarming, quirky sense of humor.  He is very human.

 

Please celebrate with us God’s gift of Chad’s presence.  His surgery was on April 28th, 1988.

Filed under: family

20 Responses

  1. Danny says:

    This is a beautiful story. I don’t know Chad personally but one of my dear friends was diagnosed with a brain tumor several years ago. I was so moved by her strength and hope. Reading this story reminds me of the power of hope, faith, and love.

    Congratulations Chad!

  2. chad says:

    Hey Chad! Congratulations on the milestone! I remember you quite well, you were so friendly and welcoming. You were one of the first people to make me feel welcome at Quest and I am so happy to have known you.
    Keep up the good fight man,
    -(the other) chad

  3. sam says:

    Chad is my friend! God bless Chad!

  4. Wow, it’s been 20 years? Way to go, Chad.

    If this is the same Chad I’m thinking of, I remember him from North Park. Good guy.

    (I’m assuming that it is because how many Chads would I know that had a brain tumor, went to college in Chicago, now lives in Seattle, and works in a program that I first heard about through my friend Darrell last year?)

  5. Jeff Lam says:

    chad’s been a source of encouragement & hope for my family and i, and i appreciate how he uses his story to bless others everyday.

  6. Wayne Park says:

    ditto on (the other) chad…
    you were kind, welcoming and embracing to us… when we first came out to Quest. I’d give my right arm for a few folks like u w/us up north.

  7. cho mama says:

    we are so thankful and proud of you!!!

  8. Eric Rager says:

    Praise God for His mercies and also for all the Glory He receives from the trials in our lives which He allows.

    I enjoyed the story, Chad. My son Matthew is about 10 months since his BT dx and we pray for the same future years for Him but must trust in God for His will since it is surely more wise than ours.

    May you and your family be blessed.

  9. georgesong says:

    i heart team cha-linda! 🙂

  10. Barbara says:

    Chad, you are a blessing to all of us. Your kindness and sensitivity in conversations during the merger and transition meant so much to all of us. Thanks to both you and Melinda for your loving presence at Quest.

  11. Your presence lights up a room. Your warmth is felt past the window sills. Your smiles makes me smile. 20 years. they go fast, eh? Be well, (loved) Kay

  12. brandonsneed says:

    Good story.

  13. CPT Tobin Dale says:

    Chad,
    Greetings from Fort Hood, Texas. You and your wife are an inspiration to those around you and those afar. I will see you this fall.

  14. Mleinda (wife of chad) says:

    Thank you, Eugene for sharing this. And thanks to all the people who send words of encouragement. We are so dependant on community and appreciate the people of Quest, our family, small group and other friends around the world who are praying for us and support us. May God continue to amaze us.

  15. Judy Anderson says:

    Yes, it’s true.
    We still pray for complete physical healing, as it tells us to do in the Bible. But God’s peace has been a huge part of this process, and the spirit of Love Jesus promised is true, true, true. The process of living is in the daily choices we make. Chad, you’ve helped us live life one day at the time, and enjoy it! We thank God for you, for Melinda, and for the community at Quest. Thanks, Eugene, for sharing the journey with us all!

  16. John Scott says:

    That’s amazing! Thanks for sharing.

  17. Ben says:

    You are the MAN Chad.🙂 Thx for sharing

  18. aaron says:

    Thanks to Chad for sharing his story. I often notice how people who have encountered such difficult circumstances have gained a lot of wisdom and peace through their experience. I keep thinking about how Chad said he often does not want to be noticed, but I encourage him that his story is powerful and that others have so much to learn from him…. Your story is a blessing!!

  19. Jim and Kathie Liljemark says:

    This was forwarded by Bev and we so appreciated your story. What a reminder of your faith and walk with with Christ. We have sent the link to our children Heidi (in New Zealand) and Brady (in Chile).

  20. Tracy L. Hoctor says:

    This is such a heart warming story. Cody is blessed by God’s hand and I fully understand what his family has and is going through. I have a nephew (will be 12 in September) that has been dealing with brain tumors since he was 6. He has had 6 surgeries and currently looking at surgery #7. Cody has a growth on the stem of the brain that was dormant for almost 5 years. Though Cody has had to learn to ready and write numerous times he has never given up hope. My sister is blessed to live in Kremmling Colorado where the school system is wonderful. Cody is still attending school with the same classmates that he started with. Cody you are an inspiration to us all. God bless you.

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One Day’s Wages

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First day of our daughter's college years at this great school. We love you. We're so proud of you.We believe in you. Go Huskies. Go Dawgs. And also, beat Stanford this Friday. As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it.

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