As our Member Services Manager, Chloe Park works as a primary point of contact for businesses. It is likely that you have all of us have interacted with her at one time or another, especially those who love attending our events. Although we may all be familiar with Chloe, many may not know that she recently faced several life challenges. Having been born with congenital hearing loss from a tumor located on part of her brain, Chloe felt compelled to get the tumor removed after noticing her hearing getting worse. The process included going through a series of intensive surgeries to remove a benign (non-cancerous) tumor from her left ear’s auditory nerve. Despite the challenge of having to get a series of surgeries and the corresponding challenges post-surgery—which were not only physical but mental and emotional—she has been able to persevere!
After going through a 5+ hour surgery to remove the tumor from her auditory nerve, Chloe became fully deaf in her left ear. To support her with this hearing loss—nine months after the initial surgery—Chloe obtained a cochlear implant which she described as being a prosthetic ear that enables her to hear and understand sound coming from her left side. While the implant now allows her to successfully hear, at times it can still be very difficult. Chloe adds, “It is incredibly hard to not be able to be a part of conversations as much as I would like because I can’t always hear and/or understand what someone is saying to me even if they are right in front of me or next to me. When you are hard of hearing, listening takes so much more effort and work. It’s really draining because my brain must work overtime to process information. So some days, I just need to take off my cochlear implant device and sit in silence as soon as I’m done with work. In addition to having a cochlear implant, I rely heavily on lipreading and non-verbal communication such as facial expressions and/or gestures. Or sometimes, someone is trying to talk to me or get my attention and I have no idea, so I have to apologize and explain that I am not trying to be rude, I’m simply hard of hearing”.
Chloe describes the process of recovery as having been extremely tough mentally, emotionally, and physically. The difficulties included having had to go to the emergency room multiple times from complications as well as severe pain and vertigo, and the challenges that come with physical therapy. Chloe describes her faith and her family as being a major part of how she was able to get through the difficulties that she has had to face. Her family selflessly put their lives on hold to assist her with day-to-day life such as getting in/out of bed and mealtimes as well as post-surgery medical care like appointments and physical therapy. This experience has helped her to be more grateful for the resources that she does have, like her family.“I find centering myself in gratitude helps me remember that bad days are only temporary, and I am so privileged compared to many others who don’t have access to the resources that I have”.
This experience has provided Chloe with new perspectives. Her surgery made her realize that there is no perfect time to do things. Advising others that “… There was no perfect time for me to go through surgery and recovery and there won’t be a perfect time to go on that dream vacation, start a new hobby, apply for that job that scares and excites you, or anything else that’s on your bucket list. Find what makes you happy and do more of those things.” Chloe also believes we in the business community have the power to make the lives of those with a disability easier. “…I’d like to encourage people to explore ways your company, product, user experience, etc. can be more accessible for those who have a disability so we can all build a more inclusive world.”
Chloe’s story and the challenges that she has faced demonstrate to us that no matter the difficulties that may rise up in our lives, either our own challenges or the challenges of our loved ones, we can make it through and persevere. We often gain wisdom and new perspectives with the potential to enrich our lives on a profound level like Chloe. If you haven’t had the opportunity to connect with our amazing Member Services Manager, Chloe, she’s just an email or phone call away!