City-Bay Fun Run: Annaliese Holland has eye on the finish, despite illness

Even though Annaliese Holland’s last day could come at any time, she still has a smile on her face.

For almost nine years she has battled auto-immune autonomic ganglionopathy, a rare condition where the body’s immune system attacks the nervous system.

Every day the 22-year-old is fed through a vein, having lost around two meters of her bowel since the affects of her condition set in.

As her condition eats away at her body, Annaliese, 22, knows she doesn’t have much time left, having spent the past six months in palliative care.

“We’ve just been told it could be tomorrow, it could be next month, it could be years, we just don’t know,” she says.

WATCH: Follow our live stream of the City-Bay finish line on Sunday from 7am

Despite the condition turning her life upside down, Annaliese made the decision to keep her head up but she admits that the journey has been a tough one.

“It was a really hard diagnosis … my body was basically shutting down and there was no real answer. By the time we found out the damage was done,” she says.

“My motto’s always been, it is what it is … there’s always someone worse off,” she says.

Before her condition required her to be in full-time palliative care, Annaliese had run the City-Bay four times.

Now on Sunday, after seeing first-hand the work of the nurses who care for her, she will tackle the final stretch of the City-Bay Fun Run to raise money for the Hospital Research Foundation Group Palliative Care and the Laurel Hospice.

Alongside her family and friends, Annaliese will walk the final 3km of the race to raise $5000 to help with the lack of staffing she has seen in the sector.

“I just couldn’t believe how much the staff rely on volunteers,” she says, adding she hopes to change the stigma around hospices being “a place to die”.

“Everyone needs to talk about it. This isn’t for me, it’s so people get the care they need.”

Organizers are expecting between 15,000 and 20,000 people for Sunday’s event, the first City-Bay since 2019. Late registrations will be open until 12pm Saturday at the Mile End Athletics Centre.

As well as hoping to raise money and awareness for palliative care, Annaliese also wants to honor the girl she used to be.

“Coming to the end of your life you start thinking about your legacy,” she says. “If I can do it anyone can do it.”


Originally published as Annaliese Holland tackles the City-Bay Fun Run, despite her terminal illness


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