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This fundraiser ended on 07/20/12

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This fund has been established in memory of Lanette Tommerdahl, to help defray educational expenses for her daughters, Kalie & Lissa.

In Memoriam.

The family and friends of Lanette Tommerdahl are uniting together to provide funds for the benefit of her daughters, Kalie and Lissa.

Please help us provide the funds necessary for them to offset their educational loans and expenses. Kalie is currently in medical school at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University and Lissa will begin her studies at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry in the Fall of 2012.

Any questions may be directed to Jeff Tommerdahl or Linda McElroy via email:

Lanette K. Sohn Tommerdahl, 48, of Bloomington passed away at 4:30 p.m. Friday (Jan. 20, 2012) at her residence.
Lanette was born April 2, 1963, and is survived by her loving husband, Jeff and her two amazing daughters, Kalie and Lissa.

There are some people you meet who are special, and instantly become part of your life. Lanette was one of those people. How do you write about a force of nature? Lanette was, without a doubt, courageous beyond belief. She used to tell me that she was going to fight as long as she could, but to say she was a fighter would not do Lanette justice. Her strength and will to live--Lanette would say it was her stubborness---places her in a category beyond description.

Here's a little background on why such a bold statement can be made:

· Lanette was diagnosed with breast cancer on 9/11/2001.

· The first day that Lanette met her Oncologist, Dr. Shaw, she told him her goal was that some day, he would write a book about her.

· Last week, Dr. Shaw admitted he actually could write a book about Lanette. He said that in over 40 years, he never had a patient with such a will to live.

· Because of Lanette, Dr. Shaw has 12 patients who are alive today because of Lanette's willingness to try so many different treatments and drugs.

How many did she try?

· 72 chemotherapy treatments.
· Over 30 hospitalizations
· 10 surgical procedures
· 40 radiation treatments
· over 200 trips to Chicago for treatment over the last 4 1/2 years

Reading this out loud makes me shake my head in wonder. God works miracles every day. Lanette was one of those miracles---defying all of the odds. And she did it with grace and humor, while continuing to be a terrific mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend. Cancer can bring out the best or worst in you. Lanette chose to let it bring out the best.

Happiness was one of Lanette's defining qualities and was a prominent part of her personality. Lanette appreciated all the good things in her life, and would remember those good things when confronted with negative experiences.

Her smile was more than just a smile. It didn't simply come from happiness, like most smiles. Happiness often comes from being in good circumstances, but circumstances can change. Lanette's smile came from joy, and joy comes from a place inside a person that circumstances can't touch--joy comes from the soul.

Here are some things about Lanette you may not have known:

· She had several nicknames, thanks to friends and family: Net, Netter, Dorkus, Laverne and Ashley. Dorkus comes from the movie 7 Brides for 7 Brothers. Dorkus was the one bride who couldn't dance. Lanette created a Dorkus dance and performed it frequently for Kalie and Lissa.

· She certainly wasn't afraid to laugh at herself or act goofy. She enjoyed blonde jokes. Lanette could play the role of a naive, midwestern, small-town girl to the hilt. She once sent me a gift of Onion Soup Mix along with some recipes. That's because we used to tease her and say that every midwestern recipe calls for onion soup mix as the primary seasoning.

· Lanette loved New York City and Broadway musicals. I've seen her come off a plane in New York City wearing a foam Statue of Liberty crown as she paraded through the airport. She'd talk to strangers on the subway, violating the cardinal rule of New York by telling anyone who would listen that she was a tourist. Together, with our daughters, we've scurried through sketchy buildings and false storefronts in Chinatown, searching for "Genuine Fake Designer Bags".

· Lanette was a big fan of Celine Dion and Princess Di. She and I watched the royal wedding together this year. Well, sort of together. I was in Florida and Lanette was in Bloomington, both of us up in the middle of the night, texting furiously back and forth, commenting on every aspect of the big event, laughing out loud as we read each other's comments.

· Lanette's favorite soap opera was The Bold and Beautiful. She and her mom had weekly 'catch-up' sessions in case they missed an episode.

· Lanette loved her dad Larry, her mom Bev and her brother Jeffrey and was especially thankful for the increased closeness she and Jeffrey shared during this past year.

· When things got tough, Lanette would go shopping. She rationalized that she returned most of her purchases; however, Jeff has a house full of stuff that may not support that argument.

· When her illness got the best of her, Lanette had a foolproof fix to improve her spirits. She watched movies. Over and over and over....... and over.

· Lanette knew the importance of living in the moment. She would put aside her pain and lose herself in a good movie; a foot or back massage and the company of her loved ones.

· A few years ago, Lanette started making jewelry with her mother to take her mind off the side effects of her treatments. She made hundreds of pieces and many of you are wearing her creations today.

· Lanette loved car races and speed. She grew up going to the stock car races every Saturday night. This past fall, Lanette, her dad and her brother did 3 laps in an Indy car, traveling over 185 miles per hour. Dr. Shaw gave permission for her to go as long as she didn't come back with a tattoo.

· Her favorite time of the year was Christmas. Lanette's extensive Christmas tree and Santa collection requires its own storage room in the basement.

· Lanette was able to enjoy her last Christmas with Jeff and the girls, watching movies together, staying up late reminiscing and offering advice for the future.

I just gave you some anecdotal facts about Lanette; however, her story, her life and her impact on others can't be understood without describing Lanette within the context of her beautiful daughters, Kalie and Lissa and her loving husband, Jeff. Together, they are an amazing family.

Lanette's love for her daughters knew no bounds. Instead of being a "Tiger Mom", you'd have to say Lanette was more of an "Elephant Mom"---nurturing, supportive, loyal, fiercely protective and very loving. Just a few weeks ago, Lanette told me that she still had so much she wanted to share with the girls, so many things she wanted to tell them. She admitted that even if she had a hundred years, there would never be enough time to say everything she wanted.

Kalie and Lissa will someday look back, after the pain of loss has lost some of its edge, think of Lanette, shake their heads and smile, knowing that she prepared them to be strong, compassionate, courageous, self-reliant women, just like their mother. There is no greater gift that a parent can give to their children. I see Kalie and Lissa as the main legacy of Lanette's time on earth. Two beautiful, remarkable young women. Whenever you think of Lanette, look at Kalie and look at Lissa. You'll find Lanette there.

And then there's Jeff. Jeff has demonstrated the selflessness required to truly and fully live one's marriage vows. There is no better example of a spouse devoting his life to his wife and daughters than Jeff. He has been the one to juggle the doctor appointments, medical treatments, emergency room and hospital visits, manage the house and finances, keep friends and family informed, care for and comfort Lanette every step of the way, while also providing the family as many opportunities as possible to spend both routine and special moments together. Whether it was driving to a swim meet, visiting Kalie or Lissa at school, vacationing at Lanette's parents' lake house or simply staying home, Jeff made it his mission to create happy memories for his family. He has been at his best friend's side, every step of the way, never wavering. I don't think any feeling human being could watch Jeff's devotion to Lanette without being truly touched.

On numerous occasions, Lanette said that she was humbled by the tenderness and depth of Jeff's love. She said that most of us take for granted the love that others have for us, but her illness allowed her to see Jeff's devotion and unconditional love for her with clarity.

Thank you, Lanette. For teaching us how a parent is supposed to love their child. How a wife is supposed to love her husband. How a family is supposed to love one another.

The love that Lanette gave to Jeff, Kalie and Lissa will be their strength.
That love never. Ever. Wavered. It's like the hum of the engine on an airplane-----it's there and it never lets up and it never stops. And you get so used to it. It just becomes part of the ride. But you'd know the second it was gone. Lanette's love for her family never stopped. It was constant. A foundation. A law. It is the pillar that has carried them everywhere and holds them up right now. Lanette's love is a gift not only to Jeff, Kalie and Lissa; it is the part of her that we can all carry with us.

Recently, Lanette told me that she was so blessed to learn how much people loved her, how many lives she touched. She was thankful for all the people who have been there for her. All the family and friends who laughed, cried and shared stories with her. Who sent cards, notes, flowers and food. Who left messages and emails, sent photos and visited. Who rubbed her back or just sat quietly with her. Who prayed for her.

She said that so often, we never tell those we care about how we feel about them and what they mean to us. Lanette told me she felt so fortunate to be able to hear these words from her family and her friends and in turn, to tell them what they meant to her.
When I last saw Lanette, she was bright, vibrant and funny. She was in her own home, still decorated for Christmas. Jeff and the girls were with her. She was secure in the knowledge that she was safe in God's hands and assured me she'll be watching over all of us and waiting to greet us when it's our turn to join her.

In closing, I can't think of a better legacy than that people follow Lanette's example by enjoying life's small and great pleasures, making the best of every situation, loving family unconditionally, telling the people you love what they mean to you, living your life happily and joyfully. Also, remember to smile and laugh a lot. If you knew Lanette, picture her in your mind's eye right now---I bet she's smiling.

In Pooh's Great Adventure, Christopher Robin says something to Pooh that I am certain Lanette would want us to know:

"If there's ever a tomorrow when we're not together, there's something you should remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart, I'll always be with you."

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