Photos of ill loved ones brings life into Pure Focus - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Photos of ill loved ones brings life into Pure Focus

At age 7, her cancer was so rare, she ended up at St. Jude's. At age 7, her cancer was so rare, she ended up at St. Jude's.

A year ago, Christy Rezabek was living a parental nightmare when it came to her daughter, Lakelee Leach. 

"She started having side pains, and I took her to the doctor, and then he sent her to the emergency room and she had appendicitis. So in the films that they took they found that she had a mass on her spine - a two inch mass about the size of a baseball," said Rezabek.

Lakelee's surgery couldn't take out the whole tumor without paralyzing her. At age 7, her cancer was so rare, she ended up at St. Jude's. That's where the family found out she had a second tumor.

"So we're under supervision. They're watching it. We're in a gray area," Rezabek said.

They go back to Memphis every 12 weeks. If the tumors grow, a treatment plan will be initiated.

"Every time we go back, it's like the first time we set foot in St. Jude's," added Rezabek. 

A Pure Focus came into the picture for families like Lakelee Leach's.

The co-director of Pure Focus is Susan Hallum. 

"Apryl and I met volunteering for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep' an organization that photographs babies that have either been still-born or have a terminal diagnosis," said Hallum.

She said that program is restricted to babies, but they wanted to expand it.  

"Older children, adults. We felt like it didn't matter if you're losing someone you love - if it's your baby or your grandmother," said Hallum.

She said the families are often strapped for money because of medical bills, so the service provided by the photographers is free. 

"It's 100 percent of their time - of the photo shoot itself, editing of the pictures, the CDs they give to the family," added Hallum

She said the response from professional photographers who want to help is amazing.

Co-director Apryl Murphy is a pro who said it can be a challenge.  

"For the photographers, you just have to put yourself in the position of the families. And these families? I absolutely can do this for them," said Murphy. 

She said often the photographers cry with families and get very involved, but families like to know someone cares. 

"You know that it's a gift you're giving them. You know that these pictures are priceless," said Murphy.

"It's sad, but it's also a blessing that she's strong, and you see that in these pictures," Rezabek said.

Pure Focus is always looking for volunteers as well as family members, and you can find more information on their website - picture perfect memories that will last a lifetime.

This organization is looking for volunteer photographers and families who need their help.

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