Support Alisa Leonard's Victory!

$81,944 of $100,000 goal

Raised by 375 people in 4 months
Created February 25, 2018
This is Alisa Leonard!  She is a wonderful person who has touched countless lives with her humor, her love of life, her generous spirit, and her beautiful singing voice.  She is dear wife of Tom, a beloved mother of three -- Isaac (20), Caleb (19) and Rachel (17) -- as well as a loyal daughter, a faithful sister, and a fun-loving friend.  She performs as a part of Sister with her real-life sisters Kjersten and Kara. Alisa joyfully contributes to her community, serves her church, shares her musical gifts, loves her family...and is now battling stage IV cancer with everything she’s got. 

Alisa is on the road to victory and it is not an easy one.  Her community has rallied to support her in her fight, and we are starting a fund on behalf of our dear friend.  Thank you for sharing in Alisa’s story and for responding as you are able.  Your thoughts, prayers and contributions are going to make her victorious!

            More about Alisa’s story.  . .

In late January, Alisa was diagnosed with stage IV cancer that originated on the ureter and has metastasized to the kidney and liver. The cancer is inoperable and five months of traditional chemotherapy was recommended as the course of treatment. 

Prior to her diagnosis, Tom and Alisa had lunch with a friend who had stage IV throat cancer and had been told there was nothing more to be done for him.  Unwilling to accept this bleak prognosis, this friend painstakingly researched other alternate treatment options and found the EuroMed Foundation in Phoenix AZ, where he went for treatment.  He is now cancer free.

After a lot of prayer and careful consideration, Alisa and Tom felt strongly that EuroMed was the right place for her treatment as well.  Alisa is currently in Phoenix receiving treatments, which may take six months or more.

Alisa’s treatment cost is $6,000 per week, none of which is covered under their insurance plan. These costs - along with the ancillary costs of being away from home during this time - have drastically changed the family’s financial situation, causing them to utilize all of their reserves and liquidate assets to get Alisa the treatment she needs in order to win this fight. 

            Be a part of Alisa’s Victory!

Perhaps Alisa or the Leonard family has touched your life. If you’d like to help, we ask for the following:

· Pray! Please keep Alisa, her family, and her medical treatment team in your prayers.

· Keep in touch! It’s difficult for the family to be separated while Alisa’s in treatment, so please let them know they are in your thoughts by leaving a comment or adding a photo on this page.

· Give!  Our goal to help this family is $100,000.  At $6,000 per week, this will help pay for about four months of treatment.

Your help and generosity is greatly appreciated and so important!   We look forward to the day Alisa has declared victory over cancer and is back home singing her heart out.  Thank you for being a part of that song!  

Tom's son Justin and his wife Kelly join the rest of the Leonard kids here in this family photo. Julia (9) and Shelby (7) love their "Gramma 'Lisa"!

Rachel, a junior in high school, chose to do online classes in order to be there supporting her mother in Phoenix.

Alisa receives an anonymous gift that brings a huge smile to her beautiful face! This gift came on February 19th, Tom and Alisa’s 22 wedding anniversary. Tom says it’s not from him. We are not so sure. He is after all a big teddy bear!

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Alisa Jo Leonard, age 48, surrounded by the love of her family, passed away on July 7th after a brave battle with cancer. Alisa’s generous spirit, engaging personality, wonderful sense of humor and beautiful singing voice brought much life, joy and laughter to many lives and she will be forever missed by her family, friends, church family, community and the audiences she has changed forever with her music.

Alisa was born to Douglas and Randvig Norvold on May 6, 1970. The family moved from her birthplace of Bemidji to Hanska, MN when Alisa was three years old. She grew up loving life on a small hobby farm and graduated from Madelia High School in 1988. Alisa attended Augsburg College in Minneapolis where she dedicated her studies to the music she loved, earning a degree in Vocal Performance.

Alisa married Tom Leonard of Nicollet MN in 1995. Tom also was a musician and together they built and ran Festival Productions. Alisa enjoyed a rich life of being a performer, arranger, singer, songwriter and most of all a mother to her children and partner to Tom.

Throughout her entire life, Alisa lived in her faith, shining her light and sharing her gifts. Alisa Jo Leonard will be forever in the hearts and minds of those whose lives have been blessed to know her. Her voice will continue to ring through this world even as she now takes her place in the next. God Bless us all as we remember our dear Alisa.

Alisa is survived by her husband Tom Leonard of Northfield; their children Isaac (21), Caleb (20), and Rachel (17); her parents Douglas and Randvig Norvold of Northfield; stepson Justin Leonard (Kelly) and their children Julia and Shelby; sister Kjersten Dysthe (Mark); sister Kara Millerhagen (Jon) along with 5 nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be Tuesday, July 31st from 4-7pm at Highview Christiania Lutheran Church, 26690 Highview Ave, Farmington, MN 55024

A Celebration of Alisa’s life is scheduled for Wednesday, August 1st, 11:00 am at Bethel Lutheran Church, 321 North Ave, Northfield, MN 55057, with a luncheon to follow. All are welcome. Alisa has requested bright colors to be worn in celebration of life.

Cards for the family can be sent to The Leonard Family, 1001 Division Street, Northfield, MN 55057.
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(Update from Kara)
Dearest Friends and Family,

Tom is the first to admit he didn't know anything about hospice.  As Alisa's primary care giver, he followed the protocol set up by Nurse Allison and Doctor Jane to keep her comfortable and then he made up the rest, taking his cues from Alisa.  As other caregivers came in, they were caught up to speed and given a plan to follow which would inevitably change along with Alisa's needs and desires.  For the first week and a half, we were all poised for action as at any time, she might wake up and decide a new course.  She went to Isaac's game in Blaine her first weekend home, along with the whole family.  Tom loaded her up with meds and pillows and away they went with Rachel in the back seat.  Caleb, Justin, Kelly and the girls, along with other friends, met them at the field and had a great time watching Alisa eat all the game time food including pretzels and hotdogs as they all cheered on the Wind Chill.  It was a magical evening.

The Keys Golf Classic was Monday the 25th and Alisa just didn't have the strength to attend.  She and Tom stayed home and received lots of video and photos of the event as they enjoyed a sweet evening with a couple of good friends.  

There were no more appointments to go to and no more things that had to be done aside from the list Alisa had on her own mind and heart.  She slept much of the time and when she awoke she whittled away on the things she wanted to finish up.  Over the days, her reserves became even more precious and her family and close friends were there to catch sweet little drops to tuck in their hearts.

At some point the rhythm of hospice changed from a buzz to a peaceful hum.   Tom took his cues from Alisa and her need to have a restful, quiet environment.  She slept more and more and then was sleeping continually.  

Alisa was not in any pain when she died peacefully and gracefully last night.   Tom once again took cues from her as he encouraged her family to be present.  She invited community and she bore witness to love even with her final breath as she allowed others into her experience.   

It was Alisa's wish to donate her body to Mayo Clinic understanding she might not fit the criteria.  After the phone call was made, the whole family celebrated as her body was accepted.  Alisa's Victory continues to impact this world even as she has now claimed her true Victory in the next.  

Alisa's celebration of life plans will be made and we will all soon be together to hold each other in our joy and in our grief.

May God richly bless us all in the passing of our dear Alisa.
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(Update from Kara)
Dearest Friends and Family

When Alisa first heard that there was to be a benefit for her at Bogart's she said "Really? Who is going to come?" Granted, it's a busy time of year, June. People have lots of commitments and it is one more thing to fit in. AND, there was no way to guarantee that they would see her, which might have been a draw. Yet they came anyway. You came. You came and you stayed. There were about 300 people that came in the door including talented musicians from many of the communities Alisa has touched over the years with her music. It was an amazing event and Alisa got to see that people came when she shocked us all by walking in the back door with Tom like she has a thousand times at Bogart's. She found a seat in the back by the sound booth and her friends and her family lined up to see her as the music poured from the stage in a steady stream of all her favorites. It was a great party.

A couple of the guests in the room kept their eyes on her energy level with acute interest. Her oncologist and her primary doctor met in person for the first time at Bogart's and conferred about her new treatment course with hope and optimism. The immotherapy she had just received was at work and they didn't want her to overdo it. Alisa didn't want to leave but was encouraged to go home and rest. Tom swept her out and the party continued fueled by all the great energy she left behind her.

That was June 10th. On June 11th, she went to Rachel's soccer game. On June 12th, she was so tired she could barely get out of bed and we all thought she had just over done it. She did not recover as the week wore on. She went to her primary care appointment on Thursday and she opted to go home to wait for test results. She was back in the ER on Friday and transferred to Abbott on Friday night. This time to the Heart Hospital as tests revealed some heart issues.

It was determined that Alisa has cardio myopathy. However, reason for the cardio myopathy was the issue and It's very treatable in either case. The immunotherapy has caused swelling in the heart in other cases which is easily treated with steroids. Stress induced cardio myopathy is treated by removing fluids and controlling blood pressure and heart rate with medication. The heart recovers on it's own. It was determined that Alisa has stress induced cardio myopathy which means the immunotherapy was not the cause of it. Her heart is just simply tired and slowing down due to her liver not doing it's job. The cancer in her liver has progressed even more and her oncologist told her on Tuesday he could no longer continue treating her. If the immunotherapy had worked, there would have been improvement.

After living with this news for a short time, Alisa kicked into high gear and said "Get me out of here". Hospice was called and they got the house ready for her. Tom drove her home in his big truck and by Thursday night, Alisa was in her own bed surrounded by her beautiful and amazing family. After many tears and a few cocktails, including the one Tom made for Alisa that she said he burned, there was resolve. In the spirit of the Leonard family they are now doing what they have always done. They work together. They are a beautiful team. They are now doing the hardest work of their lives and they are doing it together.

The laughter, the tears and the visits from family and friends have started and the time is so precious. It's the busiest weekend of the year for Festival and Tom has all hands on deck. Alisa loves the sound of life going on around her, even while she sleeps. She came out of the sanctuary which is now the big bedroom that she always wanted and said appropriately "this kitchen looks like it blew up". At one time, she would have been the one to put it back together. Now she is letting other people do that part and she is enjoying it as it represents the full and action packed life she has built with Tom.

She will not be attending the Keys Golf Event on Monday which she has so looked forward to since she was chosen to be this year's recipient back in March. She really wants to go see the shop in Lonsdale, get to Isaac's game, and see Rachel play soccer. She cuddles with Caleb when he gets home from setting up stages for the day and last night Rachel brought Justin and Kelly's girls home for a sleepover and they got to have some special time with Grandmalisa.

She continues to be so grateful for all of you as you have been with her in this incredible and heartbreaking journey. Her faith is so strong and the love you send continues to hold her up as grieves this loss and celebrates her life on this earth. You have carried her. She feels your presence and she knows she is not alone.

Thank you and may God greatly bless us all.
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Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone!

This week's update is coming from me, Alisa :) So we all know it won't be as detailed or funny or thorough, but I am who I am!!!!! I thought I'd give Kara a Memorial Day break.

As you probably know, I have been struggling with swelling the last few weeks. As I have probably figured out by now, everything changes by the minute. So I have some news to share with all of you.

While in Arizona, they found that my ureter was blocked via a CT scan. Surgery was the most likely candidate to fix it.

Back over a month ago, Euromed had changed my protocol because they weren't loving all the results. When we sent you the great blood news of the 2 cancer numbers dropping, we were - and still are - very excited. They said me being sick at that point was very normal because the cancer is dying off and we are to keep going. Now we skip ahead a couple weeks and here I am, super swollen with a blocked urerter. So we think "get to Minnesota, get it taken care of, get back to Phoenix." Tom stays put in Arizona and I come to Minnesota to get it looked at.

The staff did a CT scan right away and told me there is growth of the cancer in the liver. Over the last several days, I have met with all kinds of doctors, urologists, infectious disease control, oncologists, etc. Each visit was more knowledge and more information and during one of these meetings, an oncologist asked if I'd be interested in hearing about immunotherapy. Immunotherapy uses the body immune system to kill the cancer, no chemotherapy is used at all. Needless to say I was very interested. Meanwhile back at Euromed, they saw the same scan and said 'yes there is growth and we think the scan is not accurate. This is the reason we changed your protocol so we are ready for you to get back here and keep up the work.'

I feel as compelled to do this Immunotherapy as I did coming to Euromed. Euromed saved my life.. and the next part of this long journey is for me to do the immunotherapy treatments. They are done either 1 or 2 times per month at Minnesota Oncology, which means the other times I'm not at treatment, I will be home this summer:) Who knows where I will be in the fall, but as we all know - God is in charge and HE knows what the plan is. I'm listening and following the next step. As I write this, I have a big smile on my face and am so grateful.

The kids got to meet with the oncologist who explained my treatment and got to ask all sorts of questions. All is well, and I get to be home. What a sweet word.

I would love to see you all and know that will be a really big balancing act on my part as I am not myself. I have about 20 minutes of 'hutspah' before I need to rest or be alone or do one of the hundreds of home treatments. Tom is an amazing guard keeper!!! (he wanted to add, "and I have a gun!")

I hope this letter finds you all well - and I know I have said it before but I will say it again: Thank you for all your prayers and cards and videos and presents and hand trinkets, and the bracelets, necklaces, things to hang in my fun porch, and words on cards that will stay in my heart forever.

Much love,
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$81,944 of $100,000 goal

Raised by 375 people in 4 months
Created February 25, 2018
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