Cancer survivor learning ways of the Doctor during summer

By Josh Beavers

Jake Chumley is one of ten Webster Parish high school students making it AHEC of a summer as he learns the ropes of becoming a medical professional during training at Minden Medical Center.

However, what separates Jake from his fellow classmates is that the Lakeside incoming senior spent a sizable portion of sophomore and junior years in a Memphis hospital bed receiving treatment for an aggressive form of cancer.

A survivor and a fighter, the former St. Jude patient is now working to become a doctor to help others in need. The first step on that journey is the AHEC program at MMC.

“I’ve been looking to explore my passion,” Jake told the Journal after beginning AHEC training. “And what better field to explore than the one that saves lives?”

AHEC, which stands for Area Health Education Centers program, is a federally funded program established in the United States in 1972 “to improve the supply, distribution, retention and quality of primary care and other health practitioners in medically underserved areas.”

AHEC provides high school students with an unforgettable experience in the medical field. Students job shadow throughout the hospital, physician clinics, a local veterinary clinic, and a chiropractic clinic. Students spend three weeks of their summer learning about medical careers that will prepare them for their future.

The program also provides the students with 100 community service hours as well as a half unit of elective credit on their transcript. MMC will provide the 2021 students with opportunities in areas such as orthopedics, respiratory therapy, women’s health, phlebotomy, surgery and cardiology. They will also earn CPR certification.

Crystal Chumley, Jake’s mother, made one specific comment during Jake’s suture practice, which is pictured along with this story.

“I completely forgot about that part of the AHEC program, and I also had forgotten about his fingertip issues,” she said. “During St Jude-AT (After Treatment), he was tested in his March check-up. He still had nerve damage from chemo in 2-3 fingertips on each hand. He couldn’t feel the fishing line or tie it. It was a problem for him in his high school state fishing tournament back in April, but he said he didn’t have any problem at AHEC.”

She was excited by this development because she said it appears Jake’s nerve damage is correcting. “I’m so proud of how much he’s overcome in just one year,” she told the Journal. “A year ago he was in ICU fighting for his life with fluid around his heart as a side effect from doxorubicin and ANC numbers at zero. And this week he got to serve a rotation in the ICU and become CPR certified to learn how to help save a life.”

The program will continue through July 2.

There are more than 300 AHEC programs nationwide.

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