Jonathan Pacheco - Battling Leukemia | Compelled Podcast

#29 Battling Leukemia – Jonathan Pacheco, Part 2

This is Part 2 of Jonathan Pacheco’s story. Listen to Part 1 here.

This episode concludes the sweet love story between Jonathan and Ellena, as they are happily married.

Shortly after, however, Jonathan unexpectedly found himself in the midst of the biggest trial of his life: leukemia. Given only months to live, he discovered rest and peace in the Lord and surrendered himself to God’s will… when God worked yet another miracle.

Episode Summary

The following is a summary of the podcast interview above with Jonathan Pacheco. Many more details are included in the original podcast episode and we encourage you to listen.

Faith Like Abraham

Before getting married, Jonathan had shared one of his deepest insecurities with Ellena. For years, doctors had said that he would never be able to have children. At moments Jonathan felt guilty for marrying Ellena, depriving her motherhood.

Ellena, however, responded by reminding Jonathan that God was sovereign over every area of their lives, including having children. And if God could give Abraham and Sarah a son, then He could certainly give them children as well, if that was His plan.

So after their second anniversary, Jonathan and Ellena were overjoyed by the birth of their son Enoch, who was then joined a couple of years later by another son, Apollos. 

A Growing Idol

As Jonathan’s family grew, so did their expenses, and he began to worry about how he would provide for them.

Jonathan started an online company focused on gun sales. But what he originally intended as a way of providing for his family quickly became all-consuming and devoured every hour of his day and night. 

He would routinely work long hours into the night, buying, selling, and repairing firearms and spent less and less time with his family and church community. Jonathan became obsessed with making his company grow, to the detriment of everything else.

Repenting From the Obsession

One evening, as Jonathan finished a late evening for customers, he entered his bedroom where Ellena lay sleeping. As he looked around the room, he realized there were guns stacked up in piles all around their bed, and, in the moonlight, it looked almost like an evil shrine or altar to a false god. For Jonathan, it felt as though God were saying, “Look at the idol you’ve made.”

Jonathan was also struck by his young son, who knew so much about guns, but so little about God. Immediately, Jonathan was convicted to his core and repented the following morning of his obsession with his company.

But, although Jonathan had now repented and was making reforms, his physical health was steadily declining.

A Terrible Diagnosis

Jonathan felt terrible all the time, and his energy was completely sapped away. He always felt tired, and no matter how much sleep he got, he never felt well. One day, he noticed blood in his urine. When he noticed it again the next day, he checked himself into the hospital, thinking he had a kidney stone.

After conducting several tests, the doctors sat down with Jonathan and informed him that his white blood cell count was 335,000. For context, a normal white blood cell count is between 4000 to 11000. A white blood cell count as high as Jonathan’s meant that he had an extreme case of leukemia. Some of the doctors were shocked that he was still alive.

Jonathan was told he had about 4 months to live, but if he wanted to live even that long, he would have to enter surgery immediately.

Saying Goodbye

As the doctors began prepping Jonathan, he took a moment to say goodbye to his wife and children before surgery. 

Jonathan and Ellena prayed together with their children, and Jonathan gave each of them a final encouragement. He told them that if he did not return from surgery alive, they should continue to trust the Lord and serve Him in all that they did.

With that, he was moved into the surgical room. Immediately, Jonathan felt the peace of God envelop him. Even though he knew he might be saying goodbye for the last time, he was confident that God would remain sovereign and in control every step of the way.

A Precarious Operation

The surgeon told Jonathan that the operation would involve cutting into the artery in Jonathan’s neck and inserting a line that would be guided into Jonathan’s heart. The surgeon had to complete the operation in under 2 minutes, or else Jonathan would bleed to death.

Furthermore, Jonathan would not be given any pain medications and would have to remain alert throughout the entire procedure so that his body would respond if the surgeon’s line began going down the wrong channels.

So, once again, Jonathan committed his life into the hands of God and laid still as the surgeon began the procedure.

The operation was successful, and even though Jonathan was in tremendous pain, the surgeons were able to begin straining his blood, removing the overabundant white blood cells from Jonathan’s bloodstream.

Unexpected Restoration

While the doctors worked to reduce Jonathan’s white blood cells, Jonathan’s father came into his waiting room and sat by his side for hours on end, holding his hand.

They both knew Jonathan was dying, and there wasn’t much the doctors could do except prolong his death by a few months. Jonathan and his father had had many heated discussions in recent years about Jonathan’s new beliefs regarding God and His character, specifically Jonathan’s belief that God was sovereign in all things. 

But as Jonathan lay in his hospital bed, weak and helpless, with tubes and lines running in and out of his body, his father simply smiled, squeezed his hand, and said, “Son, you know at times like these we just have to trust the Lord and remember He’s a sovereign God.” 

And with that, years of arguments and tension at home melted away. Jonathan felt a wave of relief sweep through his body as he realized that his father too, had come to understand that God was in control of all things. 

Strangely, in the most dire situation of Jonathan’s entire life, he felt overwhelming joy and peace as he was restored to his father.

A Final Miracle

Jonathan was now ready to die if that was God’s plan. But it wasn’t. God had something else in mind.

The following morning, Jonathan’s doctor had some surprising news. After analyzing Jonathan’s bone marrow, the medical team had discovered that Jonathan’s type of leukemia was actually treatable. Even though Jonathan’s life had been in tremendous peril the evening before, he would probably make a full recovery within a couple of years of treatment.

This was wonderful news for Jonathan and the rest of his family, and they were overjoyed to know that Jonathan would be with them for many years to come.

Jonathan Today

Today, Jonathan is no longer in the gun business. He sold his firearms company shortly after returning home from the hospital and is now pursuing pastoral ministry. He and Ellena have had one more child, a daughter named Abigail.

Jonathan continues to praise God every day of his life and considers his disability and brush with leukemia not a hindrance, but a blessing. Jonathan says it’s one of the greatest reminders of his need to trust God throughout every day and in every circumstance.

This is Part 2 of Jonathan Pacheco’s story. Listen to Part 1 here.

Show Notes

Below are some photos of Jonathan’s family. Pictured are his wife Ellena, their sons Enoch and Apollos, and their daughter Abigail.

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