This summer, Luke Edmunds’s culinary dreams came true.
The 13-year-old with Acute Myeloblastic Leukemia (AML) escaped the difficulties of his every day life — typically filled with doctor visits and blood tests — to fulfill his lifelong goal of becoming a professional chef in the City of Light.
The teen flew to Paris with his family in July to learn the art of French cooking with the best of the best at a collaborative hub for innovative food startups called VOLUMES Food Lab.
“It meant the world to me,” Luke, an 8th grader from Kyle, Texas, tells PEOPLE. “After I went through such a terrible time with treatments, I got to do something I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid.
“It was amazing.”
On September 16, 2015, Luke was diagnosed with the aggressive form of leukemia after a bone marrow biopsy.
He was given a 26 percent chance of survival.
“It was shocking,” Luke’s mother, Nicole Cloutier, 43, tells PEOPLE. “His chances of survival were so small, and the treatment was so hard.”
Luke spent over six months at a Texas hospital, underwent four rounds of chemo and was put in isolation. He contracted viral infections, including rhinovirus, and pleural neuropathy or nerve damage in his legs.
“As things got worse, we were told we were going to lose him,” says Cloutier, who had recently become engaged to Luke’s stepfather, David Glickler. “There was this new life waiting for him, but he wasn’t going to make it.
“It was so unfair.”
In January 2016, Luke’s final round of chemo caused congestive heart failure. Doctors were sure he would die.
But the teen pulled through.
“It was a miracle,” says Cloutier. “He beat all the odds, proving everyone wrong.”
One year in remission, Luke, who has wanted to be a chef ever since he could remember, lived his dream.
Make-A-Wish Foundation and Airbnb teamed up to send him, his parents and his step-siblings, Morgan and Austin, to Paris for a week to receive cooking lessons from a French chef and visit Paris’ famous sites, like the la tour Eiffel, L’Avenue des Champs Elysees and le Louvre.
“My favorite part was having my mom and step-family there with,” says Luke. “And I got to learn from a French chef, and he was the best!”
The chef, Alexander Dreyer, worked with Luke to create classic French foods and give him cooking tips to bring home.
“To know what Luke’s been through, it was nice to see some of those bad memories replaced with happier memories,” says Cloutier. “We were finally able to be a normal family, making normal memories.
“We were just so happy.”