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Cross country trek aims to crush cancer

Lynn Lancour gets a workout on her bike during a fall trip to Wisconsin in this photo taken by her friend Brenda Spaude. The 1979 Escanaba High School graduate is embarking on a cross country cycling tour in April to raise money for a blood cancer that has affected her husband and others with Delta County connections. (Courtesy photo via the Escanaba Daily Press)

ORO VALLEY, Ariz. — An Arizona woman with Escanaba roots is on a quest to make blood cancers history.

Lynn Lancour, even after getting hit with COVID-19, is cycling from California to Florida this spring to raise money and awareness for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Her story began in 2017 when her husband, Paul Sauter, was diagnosed with a cancer known as multiple myeloma shortly after he retired. A disease of the plasma cells of the blood, multiple myeloma can damage the bones, immune system, kidneys and red blood cell count.

Currently in the United States, someone is diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma every three minutes.

As Paul met doctors and went through treatments, Lancour decided to take the challenge head-on.

“As is the case with many cancers and chronic diseases today, science and medicine are on the brink of discovering a cure,” she said. “I knew I had to take care of myself, so I could take care of Paul and get us to the cure.”

Starting from San Diego on April 8, Lancour and friends will pass through eight southern states, hoping to end the journey in St. Augustine by the end of May.

The daughter of Bill and Liz Lancour of Escanaba, Lynn grew up in an active family that were no strangers to hard work. She began training in October for the trip across America.

“I’ve been riding four to five days a week and am stepping it up to six days a week on the bike and one day a week in the gym,” she said. “This is the first time ever that I’ve done this kind of ride. The longest I’ve ever ridden is 100 miles and that was a few weeks ago.”

Lancour acknowledged the help and support she’s received from her cycling club in the last few years.

“In October of 2018 I borrowed a bike from my son Cody, went to Tucson for the winter with my husband, joined the Rancho Vistoso Women of Wheels (WOW) bicycle group and took to cycling… Day one I rode up to the meeting spot, when someone asked me how long I’ve been riding, because of course I looked like a rider. My reply, ‘Today is day one’. Lancour said pedaling through the desert gave her inspiration.

“Since then I have never looked back. Bicycling in the outdoors with WOW gave me time to clear my mind, forget about my worries, feel the freedom of the spinning tires on the road, and gather the strength and energy I needed to take care of myself and my husband.”

Even the pandemic couldn’t stop her. “After having COVID-19 in September it did take me about three months to recover aerobically and physically, but COVID hasn’t stopped me from training.”

Lancour says she avoids processed foods, and her go-to ride snack is mixed nuts with dates. Staying hydrated and good on electrolytes is a must.

“I’ve figured out you don’t let yourself get hungry or thirsty. In hot weather it’s all about the electrolytes and water.”

Since Paul is unable to cycle due to back fractures, Lynn said he’ll play an important supporting role during the journey. “He drives a truck pulling an enclosed trailer with extra equipment, water and nourishment. It’s a safety issue.”

Accompanying Paul from San Diego to Austin will be Escanaba native and cancer survivor Toni (Johnson) Mendina. The Lancour relative currently lives in Iron Mountain and will be taking a month off of work to help in the effort, noted Lynn.

Weather issues could affect the southern trek, including heat, rain and humidity, and Lancour is hoping for a strong tailwind out of the west. Then, there are the motorists.

“Our biggest concern is traffic and inattentive drivers,” she said. “My bike is equipped with a rear radar light, which detects any rear-approaching traffic and shows the car approaching on my Garmin mounted to my handlebars.”

Lancour said she plans to celebrate a milestone on her tour. She will turn 60 on May 19, when she hopes to reach Orange Beach, Alabama.

For updates on Lynn’s ride or to donate, people can visit the Gears N Grind page on Facebook or go to gearsngrind.com.

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