Huntsville, Ala. (WHNT) - Like most 8-year-olds, Lakelee Leach is a busy girl. Just ask and she’ll tell you some of her favorite activities. “Jazz and tap and gymnastics,” says Lakelee. Her mother Christy Rezabek adds in some others, including her back handspring clinic, cheerleading, and softball. “She’s full of energy and nothing slows her down,” Christy says.
But Lakelee has faced a battle this year bigger than some adults ever have. It started last year with a pain in her stomach. Christy originally thought it was a stomach virus going around. Her doctor thought it was her appendix and they headed straight for the emergency room. Christy say they kept taking x-rays and thought something might be wrong. They eventually told the family, “Yes, her appendix is ruptured, but she also has a 2 inch mass on her spine,” according to Christy.
That mass turned out to be what’s called ganglioneuroblastoma. Christy says, “October the 18th we had a new normal.” She says with a new normal, you worry about everything. That anything can change, at any moment in time. “And that’s how we live our life now is day to day, and enjoy what we have. And when she has a pain, then we really pay attention to that versus saying it’s just a growing pain, cause it’s not anymore.”
By November 1, the family was at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis to have the tumor removed.
Christy says, “It’s the scariest thing when you’re sitting there and the doctor comes in and says what are you here for? And Lakelee looked at him and said, ‘There’s a gray area with my tumor Bob,’ and he said there’s no gray area, you have cancer.”
They removed what they could of the tumor, but some of it couldn’t be removed. So now the family must wait and see. According to Christy, “They found a second tumor and she’s named him Frank. So we’ve got Bob and Frank.”
They will now go back to St. Jude every 12 weeks for an MRI and watch the progress of the tumors for the next 5 years.
It’s a different normal,” says Christy.” You start thinking about your whole family. And your other children, and how do you prepare this child to fight for her life when she was 7 at the time.
One blessing has been all that St. Jude has done for the family. “St. Jude is phenomenal,” says Christy. Every penny that people give goes straight to the families. They give us everything we need, down to washing powders, drier sheets, room and board.”
Even though they still depend on St. Jude, the family is already doing what it can to give back, hoping to raise 20 thousand dollars for the hospital. In the meantime, it’s life as normal as it can be for a family with a new normal.
Christy says, “She has a full life. We just watch and see and don’t hold her back if she doesn’t need to be held back.”
The family has already raised $12,000 of its $20,000 goal for St. Jude. They have a fundraising team called Lakelee and the Blastomas. They already have almost three dozen people participating in the St. Jude marathon, half marathon, and 5K. The team is made up of family members from all over the country, friends, and even complete strangers who just want to help out.
There will also be a fundraising event at Carson’s Grille in Owens Cross Roads, Thursday October 25th at 7 p.m.
You can also purchase hams or gourmet turkeys. All profits go directly to St. Jude. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.