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

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

For nearly nine years, she has been battling autoimmune autonomic ganglionopathy, a rare condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the nervous system.

Every day, the 22-year-old is fed through a vein, having lost about six feet of her bowel since the effects of her condition.

As her condition eats into 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 livestream of the City-Bay finish on Sunday from 7am

Despite the condition turning her life upside down, Annaliese made the decision to keep her head up, but admits the journey was tough.

“It was a very difficult diagnosis… my body was actually shutting down and there was no real answer. By the time we found out the damage had been done,” she says.

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

Before requiring full-time palliative care due to her condition, Annaliese had run the City-Bay four times.

Seeing first-hand the work of the nurses caring for her on Sunday, she will complete the final stretch of the City-Bay Fun Run to raise money for the Hospital Research Foundation Group Palliative Care and the Laurel Hospice.

Along with her family and friends, Annaliese will run the final 2 miles of the race to raise $5,000 to help with the lack of staff she has seen in the industry.

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

“Everyone has to talk about it. This is not for me, it is so that 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 are open until 12 noon Saturday at the Mile End Athletics Centre.

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

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


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

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