MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Production on Bluff City Law has ended for this season, but not before the crew had a once-in-a-lifetime meeting with a very special patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital battling a terminal cancer.
It would be 15-year-old Alexis Bezilla’s last major outing before passing away this week.
We caught up with Bezilla’s parents Friday afternoon as they were packing up to leave their home away from home in Memphis since 2017.
The Bezilla family has been coming back and forth from Iowa to Memphis since 2017 when Alexis was first diagnosed with cancer.
“She’s known at St Jude as one of the toughest patients,” said Brad Bezilla, Alexis’ father. “They would say, ‘what’s your pain level’ and she would say ‘two’ and they would say, ‘really, what is it really’ and she would speak out and say it was really a six or seven."
This tough girl was battling an even tougher cancer called Medulloblastoma. She had a tumor removed from the base of her brain, but the cancer spread to her spine.
“We knew at that point that it was terminal. There was nothing left that we could really do,” said April Bezilla, Alexis’ mother.
The Bezillas says their daughter knew exactly where she wanted to be for her last days.
“We asked her. She chose to come back to St. Jude for the end, instead of being at home,” said Brad Bezilla. “She said she felt loved and trusted here. She trusted the doctors.”
Alexis’ decision to go back to Memphis would unknowingly put her in the middle of a national television production.
A family friend introduced them to Lin Sitler of the Memphis and Shelby County Film and Television Commission.
Alexis and her mother made an unannounced visit to the set of Bluff City Law, where she met lead actor on the show Jimmy Smits.
“When he got breaks, he would come over behind the scenes and sit with her and talk with her and ask her questions about her life as a 15-year-old outside of the world of cancer,” said April Bezilla.
Bezilla says Alexis was on set for a shoot in Episode 6 at the Peabody hotel.
The entire cast welcomed Alexis. The director of photography even surprised her with a slate with her name on it.
Much of the cast signed it.
A grip on the show, whom Sitler says competed as the world’s strongest man, carries Alexis’ wheelchair around on set. Alexis’ parents said that same grip came by the hospital later to see her.
“I received texts before they even got home. She was very excited and showed me the pictures,” said Brad Bezilla. “It helped her become a normal teenager for a day.”
Bezilla says Alexis’ mother says it was a memorable last public outing for her daughter.
Alexis passed away Monday night.
Her family has a few pieces of memorabilia from her Bluff City Law trip to take back, but they want to leave something behind.
They’re raising money for St. Jude. Alexis’ mother says that was one of her last wishes before she died.
“I just do not want another family have to go through this or down this journey,” said April Bezilla.
If you would like to donate to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital on behalf of Alexis click here.
Alexis’ parents say the hospital was very special to her. She especially enjoyed the teen support group.