TR Press UK - 02-07-2019

Hanna survived the cancer – “A maximum dose was my only chance to survive.”

At the age of four, Hanna Falk was diagnosed with leukaemia. Fifteen years later, after spending many hours inside a hospital, she was told she was cancer-free. “I found out afterwards that I came so close to dying,” says Hanna, who is participating with TRGM Linköping for the first time.

26-year-old Hanna Falk is part of TRGM Linköping, the team that is cycling one of the hilliest routes during the Tour de Paris. Together, they will travel through valleys and over mountains towards Paris, their final destination. Even though Hanna is enjoying the tour, it is not the main reason for her taking part in the project.

“Raising money is number one for the project, and that’s why I’m here. I feel humbled to be alive and I want to fight to make sure others get the chance to feel better,” says Hanna.

Hanna was only four years old when she was diagnosed with ALL, Acute Lymphocytic Leukaemia. Her treatment had to be stopped several times due to multiple bouts of pneumonia, which meant she was treated over the course of three to four years. But it wasn’t until she reached the age of 19 that she was finally declared cancer-free.

“I had a hormonal type of cancer, which meant there was a risk of it recurring during puberty. That’s why they couldn’t declare it until I was an adult,” Hanna explains.

Cancer from an early age
Hanna says that the cancer has characterised her entire life, as she has had regular check-ups from an early age. It was more difficult during her childhood, as the disease excluded her from having a normal life.

“Because of my weakened immune system, I couldn’t be in public places like other children,” she explains. “I couldn’t go to the local swimming pool when the other children were there, and I had to eat in a separate room instead of in the school canteen.”

Close to death
Hanna didn’t really contemplate how serious her condition was during her illness, and only afterwards did she realise how close she actually came to death.

“My grandmother always keeps a diary, and I recently got to read her entries from the time when I was ill. She had written about when I got a pneumonia and the only way the doctors could keep me alive was by giving me a maximum dose of antibiotics, a dose that is normally considered way too much for a child. But I would have died otherwise. It made me cry reading that,” says Hanna.

Today, Hanna is immensely grateful she survived, even though she sometimes worries about the future.

“Of course I worry about the cancer coming back. I freak out over normal things like a sore throat or a headache, but Henrik usually calms me down,” she says.

Together towards Paris
Hanna’s boyfriend Henrik Andersson is also cycling on the team and is by her side the whole way down to Paris.

“I probably would have done this type of thing even if Hanna wasn’t personally affected. But the fact that she is raising money makes it all the more important. After all, you are only here thanks to research,” he says and looks at his girlfriend.

Both Henrik and Hanna agree that it is nice to have each other on the tour.

“This will be a lifelong memory, so it feels really good to be able to share it with your partner. We are advising everyone we know to do the same. It is great fun,” Henrik says.

“It is a great advantage doing it together, because the cycling and being part of the project takes up a lot of time. And it makes me really proud when Henrik is doing really well. It’s great to be able to help and encourage each other,” says Hanna.

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