Elke cycles her way through cancer treatment

Icon Writer / 08 Jan, 2024

While travelling through South America on their bikes in 2020, Elke discovered a lump in her left breast.

Hobart resident Elke and her husband Harald have always enjoyed an adventure. Originally from Germany, the avid cyclists have travelled thousands of kilometres on two wheels.

“After a bike trip from Adelaide to Sydney in 2005, we applied for a visa and moved to Sydney in July 2007,” says Elke.

“In November 2014, we moved to Tasmania because Sydney was too busy.”

While travelling through South America on their bikes in 2020, Elke discovered a lump in her left breast.

“Because of COVID, we returned to Australia in May 2020. Our house near Hobart was still rented out, so we stayed with friends in Bendigo. I had scans done in Bendigo, where they discovered a small cancer in the right breast as well (as the left),” says Elke.

“I started hormone therapy straight away. My husband and I decided that it was best for me to have both breasts removed and not to have a breast reconstruction. I don’t regret that decision at all. I also had all of the lymph nodes on the left side removed.”

Following her surgery, Elke and Harald returned to Hobart in August 2020.

Soon after, Elke commenced chemotherapy at Icon Cancer Centre Hobart, along with six weeks of radiation therapy.

“I rode my bike to the chemotherapy and radiation therapy sessions at Icon Hobart,” says Elke.

Elke now undergoes six monthly check-ups at Icon Hobart under the care of Medical Oncologist, A/Prof Louise Nott.

“I have decided not to let the cancer change the way we live our lives. I don’t want it to take over our lives,” says Elke, who turned 60 last year.

“We are outdoors people, mostly through our cycling, but we go bushwalking as well and like kayaking. We like bike touring.”

In May 2023, Elke and Harald set off on another bike trip. Over six months, the couple covered 13,000km cycling from Hobart to the Northern Territory, then across to Far North Queensland and down the east coast of Australia.

“It sounded exciting to cross Australia from south to north to see more of the country,” says Elke.

“We enjoyed being on the road, sleeping in the tent under the stars, seeing different landscapes and meeting other travellers. There were a lot of favourite memories from the trip, like seeing Uluru, arriving at the tropics in the rainforest after crossing the Red Centre and visiting a lot of nice country towns.

“Sometimes motorists stopped and gave us food and drinks. One good thing about cycling all day is that we could eat a lot of chocolate, cookies and ice cream,” laughs Elke.

For now, the couple are enjoying a break before planning their next cycling adventure.

“I would like to fly to Broome and ride back along the west coast and the Nullarbor. Or we might take the bikes to Europe and visit my family,” says Elke.

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