In 2017, after 44 years of working in the railroad industry, Paul Sauter was just starting to enjoy his retirement, when his health started to decline out of nowhere. Typically, he was in extremely good shape and enjoyed long hikes with his wife, Lynn. One day, while on a mountain climb trip in Arizona, Lynn was concerned when she noticed Paul was not his usual athletic self. When he was unable to get out of bed because of severe back pain, she knew something wasn’t right.
After they returned to their home in Wisconsin, Paul had numerous doctor appointments and underwent several scans and bloodwork. Soon, they learned the devastating news that he had a rare form of blood cancer, multiple myeloma. He immediately started intense chemotherapy and received a stem cell transplant four months later.
Today, after participating in two separate clinical trials to save his life, Paul continues to take a daily oral therapy called Revlimid, a drug that The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) helped fund the research for.
“LLS has been a huge support system for our family throughout our cancer journey,” said Lynn. “Not only are they funding the treatment keeping my husband alive, but they’ve also provided us with co-pay assistance, educational materials and even delivered a warm blanket for Paul, which meant so much to him. We’re so appreciative to be a part of this organization.”
Lynn has turned her pain into purpose, and is now spearheading a 48-day 3,100-mile bike ride fundraiser across the country called “Gears-N-Grind” to raise funds and awareness for the urgent need for blood cancer cures. Kicking off in April 2021, Lynn and her fellow bikers will ride from San Diego, CA to St. Augustine, FL, while Paul rides alongside in his RV for ongoing bike and navigation support.
Lynn and her team have an ambitious fundraising goal and they’ve already hit the ground running with several successful and innovative fundraising events. The team of bikers will wear shirts with the names of nearly 100 cancer patients who they’re riding in honor of. Bike riding is an activity that means more to Lynn than just a leisurely sport. When she wasn’t able to be by Paul’s side during his treatments, she took on biking as a means to keep herself busy.
In September 2020, the couple was hit with another health battle when they were both diagnosed with COVID-19. As a cancer patient, Paul was immunocompromised and had to spend one week in the hospital without any visitors. During this time alone at home, Lynn had some time to reflect on everything they had been through and realized there was absolutely no time to waste. She packed up all their belongings, sold their house in Wisconsin and moved down to Arizona – a longtime retirement dream they had talked about for a while.
Thankfully, Paul finally recovered from COVID-19 and the two have been making the best of their retirement endeavors in the Tucson, AZ area. Now that Lynn can bike all year round in the warmer climate, she’s built up the stamina and athleticism to take on Gears-N-Grind in April.
Throughout Paul’s myeloma experience, he has fractured every single vertebrae in his back and is not been able to hop on a bike yet. But in February 2020, he purchased a bike for himself that he’ll carry with him in his RV as inspiration.
“Without Lynn at my side and the support of our four children, I possibly wouldn't be here now,” said Paul. “Now it’s my turn to support her and knowing that the funds we raise will support LLS’s lifesaving research, I’m ready to go!”