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Lynne's Legacy of Hope to benefit Sater family

July 20, 2011

City of Oconomowoc - Six years after relocating to Oconomowoc when her husband took a news anchor position with WISN-TV, Lynne Sater is sure they made the right move.

"It felt like coming home," Sater said.

"We had a warm and fuzzy feeling about Oconomowoc that we were meant to be here. The people we have met here are quality people, and they are in this struggle with us. We are meant to be right here," she said.

As the 49-year-old mother of three continues in her 18-month battle against Stage 4 bile duct cancer, she draws strength not only from her family, but from a large number of friends and colleagues who have banded together to hold a benefit to offset the burden of the family's medical expenses.

Lynne's Legacy of Hope is slated to be an old-fashioned picnic, scheduled for noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, July 24, at Lapham Peak State Park's SummerStage in Delafield. It will feature live music, food and drink and many highlights planned throughout the day.

"I look at it as a celebration of life," said Sater, who initially tried to dissuade friends and colleagues from organizing the event. "I didn't want them to go to all that work."

"More than anything it's humbling, and I feel very blessed and undeserving of this love," she added.

The Sater family, including Lynne, husband, Terry, and daughters Savannah, Autumn and Sierra, will be on hand for the festivities. Picnic fare, drinks, kids' games, T-shirts, wristbands and silent auction items will be available all day long to help raise funds for the family. Music and entertainment features some well-known, talented friends, including Mike Miller and Piles of Rhythm, Rhonda Begos and Midnight Groove, Cross Point Community Church's Ignition Band and professional singer Liz Norton.

The event will be hosted by WISN-TV's Mark Baden and Kathy Mykleby, along with WTMJ Radio's Jonathon Green, and will include performances by Terry and daughter Autumn reprising original songs from last year's Summerfest performance. Younger daughter Sierra also will perform, along with an array of talented local student musicians and dancers.

Music is a strong bond in the Sater family.

"When I met Terry, we both played guitar and sang. He was very good; I was moderately talented," Sater said. "It just evolved from there," she said.

The beginning

Sater recalled how the aches and pains in her shoulder led to a diagnosis that turned her world upside down.

"It was in December '09. I was having issues with my left shoulder. I worked at Pewaukee Lake Elementary as a teacher's aide in the gym, so I was hitting and chasing after balls and moving equipment," she explained.

Sater thought the pain was a rotator cuff injury.

"I started doing physical therapy on it and it started to help. I had an X-ray, and it didn't show anything. I was in the process of scheduling an MRI, and it continued to get worse. I was trying to squeeze in time for the MRI in my busy schedule," she remembered.

Sometimes life has a way of grabbing your attention.

"I actually tripped and fell on my way to my daughter's Christmas concert and hit that same shoulder on the ground" about three weeks later, she said.

"The pain was incredible. I got another X-ray and the ortho doctor saw a 2-inch tumor in the upper part of my left humerus; it was actually coming through the bone already."

"It was sudden, going from maybe I will need surgery to you have a tumor in your arm," Sater added.

Doctors said the cancer had to have originated somewhere else. A CT scan showed a huge mass on the liver; biopsies were done and medical personnel continued to track the disease back to its origins.

"It's bile duct cancer. They said this is a rare cancer for young people to get. Two out of three are 65 or older. The fact I was in my 40s - I am 49 now - is unreal," she said.

"I don't have any of the risk factors. I'm not a drinker, or been to the Middle East where there's a parasite that puts people at risk for this. I'm pretty healthy; I exercise, eat well," she pointed out.

"What was fascinating was that it was Stage 4 and had spread to the arm," she said.

"It was probably harboring for awhile. It is silent and insidious and one of those that are far advanced before it's discovered," Sater said.

Two days after her diagnosis, she was in surgery for her arm, which left her left her with limited use.

That was followed shortly by another operation that Sater sees as a miracle.

"We had liver surgery scheduled, and they told us if they go in they might find it elsewhere. The surgery was complicated and dangerous because the liver is so vascular.

"I believe I was on the table for 12 hours. I had a lot of complications. The main vein collapsed. They had to bring in a transplant team to take a vein from my neck and then closed up.

"The doctors went to my husband and said the transplant vein wasn't working.

"My family was devastated and preparing for the worst. But on Monday, we had a scan, and there was this blood flowing and the vein was working. The doctors felt it was a miracle," Sater said.

It is not a consideration she takes lightly.

"I believe in the power of prayer," Sater said.

Fight continues

In June 2010 doctors thought they had gotten everything. But by August, she was running fevers and was admitted back into the hospital, and more tumors were found.

"This was devastating," Sater recalled.

An intensive chemotherapy program was started.

"It stabilized the disease. I was on a special regimen, but developed an allergic reaction to it after six months. I almost went into anaphylactic shock," she said.

Despite attempts to desensitize body, which appeared to work for a couple of months, she continued to have problems.

The chemo took a heavy toll on Sater's body. Most regimens allow for two weeks of chemotherapy followed by one week off. Sater's required one week of chemo and three weeks off.

She began to get fevers as a result of the therapy on her body.

Sater was allowed to come home and had hospice care while she recouped from the treatments.

Despite the challenges, Sater insists on remaining positive.

"There is always something good to focus on. Anything in life can weigh you down if you focus on the negative. It helps me kick myself and put perspective where it should be," Sater said.

Sater, her family and doctors are now deciding what avenue they will go down next in their continuing fight against the disease.

"It's a journey. I think of it as a path with many detours," she explained.

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