By Paige Nash (WebsterParishJournal.com)
On May 13, 2020, at the age of 15, Lloyd “Jake” Chumley was diagnosed with stage 4B Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and additionally with what presented to be a baseball size Ewing’s sarcoma in his right pelvis.
The news hit him and his parents like a tidal wave, but they were comforted by the fact that they knew God was in control and they had a large community supporting their family during this challenging time.
Lloyd’s mother Chrystal Chumley said, “It was unreal the outpouring of love and people we had praying for my son. We had so many people there for us and we never could have made it without all the prayers and love.”
During the time of his treatment Lloyd took a total of 34 sessions of chemo (6 different kinds), 17 treatments of Proton radiation, 90 doses of steroids, 180 Lovenox shots that were administered by his mother in the stomach and countless other daily meds.
Lloyd just celebrated his two-year cancer-free milestone with his family this past Thanksgiving, but he still has check-ups every 6 months at the local St. Jude affiliate location in Shreveport. He also has a yearly check-up in Memphis and is currently the subject of 6 ongoing research studies.
“They’ll continue to follow me for the rest of my life to help chart research studies for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma,” said Lloyd.
After riding out the most difficult wave of his life and having a doctor deliver the news that he possibly only had one month left to live, he has decided not to let one opportunity pass him by. After graduating high school, he enrolled at Louisiana Tech University where he was accepted into the Honors College and is studying Pre-Med. He just finished his first quarter on the Dean’s List.
His time at St. Jude is what inspired him to study Pre-Med.
“He never knew just what he wanted to do in life,” his mother Chrystal said. “He was good at many things and just always kept his grades up until he could figure it out. It wasn’t until his time up at St. Jude that he said he’d like to study oncology and come back to St. Jude to give back.”
During Lloyd’s time at St. Jude a lot of the fun activities were shut down, but this allowed time for more one-on-one interactions with the doctors and nurses that cared for him.
“The doctors and nurses answered my questions when I was receiving different treatments,” he said. “This allowed me to understand the science behind cancer treatments and therapies, greatly expanding my knowledge; henceforth allowing me to use this in my studies as a pre-med major.”
Along with his already busy schedule keeping up with his schoolwork, Lloyd is also studying modeling and acting with The Michael Turner Agency in Shreveport. Last year he won the 2022 Fashion Runway Review and will be traveling to Hollywood in July to meet with different modeling and acting agencies. To help pay for his acting studies, he works part-time at Habacu’s Mexican Restaurant as a waiter.
Even before learning he had cancer, Lloyd has always participated in the Minden St. Jude Auction and you better believe he will make time to be at the annual auction this year, too.
“I’m certain I’ll be popping in to talk with Ms. Laura (Hollingsworth) on air a time or two,” said Lloyd. “It’s always a great time up there at the auction. It really brings our whole community together and I’m definitely grabbing a couple of those sweet t-shirts.”
Last year the auction brought in a grand total of $2,415,317. The City of Minden along with surrounding contributing communities raise more money per capita than any other city in the entire United States.
“The St. Jude Auction of Minden is so important and always will be,” Lloyd said. “I know everyone has heard this time and time again, but we cannot stress enough the fact that St. Jude never makes any family pay a dollar toward food, travel, and even the extremely expensive medicines and treatments.”
These treatments along with ongoing care can reach a total of well over $1-2 million per patient.
A patient undergoing treatment there currently is another local, Cole Benson, who was diagnosed with T lymphoblastic lymphoma in 2021.
Lloyd and Cole have developed a friendship through the hardships.
“When I was going through treatment Hutton Hays was that older guy there for me even though he was going through it at the same time, he was still older and someone I looked up to and could lean on and ask questions to,” said Lloyd. “When I met Cole, I just wanted to be that person for him. You know, pass it on. That’s all.”
Lloyd’s mom has also been a source of comfort for Cole’s mother, Ashleigh.
“For any new parent hearing the words for the first time that their child has cancer, I hope they take a deep breath and let it out slowly, finding some calm knowing they now have an answer after so many questions,” said Chrystal Chumley. “I pray a peace comes over them that God’s got this, and God has got them. They are in the best hands possible at St Jude.”
She also has words of wisdom to bestow even on the parents who may not have to endure the news that their child has cancer.
She said, “Take as many pictures as possible. Find joy in the silly little everyday things, in the spilled milk of morning rushes, and goodnight kisses because that is where everyday life and memories are. You might not be able to control life’s waves, but you can learn to surf them.”
This year’s Minden St. Jude Auction, February 9-12, is themed “Wave Goodbye to Cancer.”