Tell us about you?
My name is Hollie Fielder I am 27 years of age and live on the beautiful Central Coast.
I love life, I love being happy and I strive to live the best life. Sunrises are my favourite time of day, a chance to start fresh and begin the day with positive and grateful vibes.
I also have a passion for fitness and have just completed my Cert 3 in fitness with my long term goal being Rehab fitness to help those in post op situations, stroke/diabetes etc. I am also about to commence a Bachelor in Nutrition which I will link to my training to help the health of my community.
I have 2 brothers, Tom and Bryce both such legends and I love them heaps. Mum and Dad have to be the best support team and I’m so thankful to have them in my life.
What is your story?
I’m an advocate for Bowel Cancer Australia, as a survivor of stage 4 bowel cancer it has become a passion of mine to make a difference in this disease.
At the age of 24 I was told I had bowel cancer with secondary liver cancer. I was told that my prognosis was very slim and had a 5% chance to be alive in 5 years. Pretty scary hey? I cannot explain the feeling I had when I heard those words, but I knew I was going to be ok, I knew that I was going to win and come out the other side stronger.
My first major surgery was a bowel resection and I was given a week to prepare for this. I had no idea what to expect. I remember getting wheeled into the operating theatre freaking out and asking the surgeon not to give me a stoma (A Stoma as in a colostomy bag, I was going to have to have a colostomy bag for 3 months if my bowel didn’t join together properly). When I woke up from this surgery the first thing I did was feel for a stoma and I was lucky enough not to have one. I was sent to critical care to monitor my heart rate as it was over 180 beats. The recovery from the surgery wasn’t too bad, I spent 7 days in hospital.
After having 6 weeks to recover from the surgery and giving my body enough time to heal, I was scheduled for my first round of chemotherapy. I was extremely nervous. When I walked into the chemotherapy room it was very daunting as there were lots of sick elderly people. My port was fresh and tender and the nurses missed it twice and that set my anxiety off. Finally it was needled and I began my treatment, it is such a weird sensation and really when I think about it makes me queasy. At the end of my first treatment I had an allergic reaction and my throat started to close over, cue Phernegan. During each chemo treatment I would spend all day in hospital and then sent home with a tube of another two days with of chemo – then thankfully I would have 12 days off.
After completing 3 months I was sent to get an MRI to see if the chemo had shrunk the spots on my liver. I was lucky it had otherwise I wouldn’t have continued on with treatment. I was booked in for a portal vein embolisation, which cuts the blood circulation off to the right side of the liver so the left side could grow big enough for me to survive the liver surgery.
After a month I was booked for a scan to make sure it had grown and it had. I remember waking up from my liver surgery and my surgeon saying “I got it all Hollie”. It was probably the best wake up I have had. I spent 5 days in critical care as I lost a lot of blood on the table and was extremely weak. I couldn’t keep my eyes open let alone get up and walk. When I was moved to my own room it was great although I had to be isolated because I contracted swine flu.
The recovering from this surgery took me a while. Due to the lack of mobility from the surgery I ended up getting fluid on my lungs. I can tell you this was one of the most painful experiences I have had. My surgeon cut my back while I was awake and stuck a tube down my back to drain the fluid off my lung, I screamed the ward down, they drained one litre. After 2 weeks I was sent home and had to have a needle in my stomach every day for a month.
During my healing time I felt my liver growing back, it was quite a surreal feeling.
Once I was well enough I was booked in for my next 3 months of chemotherapy. The first round went ok, but after that I was having endless reactions to the treatment with temperatures over 40 degrees and spending time in ER and in hospital.
Throughout chemo I had to have blood tests to monitor my liver and kidney function and also my CEA which is my cancer count in my blood. I finished Chemo on the 13th November 2012 it was such a good day.
After scans and blood tests on the 12/12/12 I was given the all clear.
Through my journey I am blessed to have had such an amazing team that looked after me, from my bowel surgeon Nigel Barwood, liver surgeon Mohammad Ballal to every nurse that I came across – they were all so amazing and I don’t think I could have got through it without them.
Through all this I was living in WA where I was with my ex partner, my family was still living on the Central Coast. It was a hard time, I felt very alone especially when the nurses and doctors and general public would constantly tell you “you’re to young” These three words are what drives me to make a difference to Bowel Cancer awareness, because you are never too young for a disease.
It was such a testing time for my family and those around me, but I am so thankful for the support I had and still do till this day.
Are you still involved with spreading the word on Bowel Cancer…?
I aim to continue to make a difference, and keep spreading the word about bowel cancer.
I want people to be able to talk about their bowels as they do breast. We shouldn’t be embarrassed to talk about our bowels, it’s a natural part of our bodies and we should embrace these movements. Red is just as important as pink.
I also volunteer for Redkite which is an organisation for young adults with cancer, they supported me throughout my journey by paying bills and offering counselling for me and my family. I was lucky to be put in touch with them by my colorectal nurse Jan who was my super star when I was sick. I am speaking at a charity event for Redkite this Friday, sharing my story to a company so they can see how their fundraising helps others. It’s very rewarding to be given opportunities like this.
Over the last 2 years I have held many fundraising events from quiz nights to cake stalls and raffles, with the support from the community it has led us to raise over $35000 for Bowel Cancer Australia.
It is hard when the community has a stigma that bowel cancer is an old persons disease, when in fact it can affect anyone at any age and I am proof of this. I would love to get everyone to buy a take home test kit from a chemist, a test you can do in the privacy of your own home. This is such an important form of prevention, that can help save lives.
I have some awesome ideas that I hope to put into practice soon.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by people who have a zest for life, those who live each day to the fullest and spread their good vibes. I believe in living in the moment and when I come across like-minded humans who are living their dreams and pursuing what makes them happy it make me smile. I love those people who give to help others become a better them, those people who can turn any negative into a positive and see the light when its dark.
I currently train with Andrew Papadopoulos owner of Battle Fit Australia who has given me the belief in myself mentally and physically – that no matter what you have been through you can overcome any obstacle your are faced with in life.
Having a bunch of like minded people around makes life so amazing, I smile everyday knowing that I am happy with where I am.
What is your most memorable moment?
This is an easy one, back on 12/12/12 I had a PET scan to see if I had cancer in my body, it was such an anxiety packed day and I just wanted it to be over. I remember getting a phone call at 3.30pm from my colorectal nurse telling me that I was cancer free. Probably the best 2 words I will ever hear in my life, it was a feeling of relief and achievement, I was proud of myself for what I had overcome.
All my family was on the Central Coast as it was my cousins 21st, I called them all and told them the amazing news. I will never forget this day 🙂
If you would like to talk to Hollie or get involved with Bowel Cancer Awareness
please contact her as follows:
0439 454 676
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