JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Cancer stole the life of Daja Martin’s mom, Kenya Ashby’s grandmother, Kayla Beamon’s grandmother, Jessica McKenzie’s grandmother, and three of Jayla Mondy’s grandparents, along with her cousin and friend.

These five University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) medical students also have something else in common as well: They all decided to confront the disease that brought each so much grief, shadowed it, learned how others are defeating it, so that one day, maybe, they can use that knowledge to save the lives of someone else’s mom, grandparent, cousin or friend.

“For many, death and suffering push them away,” Mondy said. “For me, death and suffering provide a sense of hope and need for growth and discovery. I believe that’s what draws me to oncology.”

It drew her and her four fellow medical students to the Oncology Summer Internship, a paid, four-week program that ended Friday at UMMC.

It was a chance for them to observe around 20 oncology professionals treating their patients, to learn from national oncology experts virtually, and to mingle during social events.