To the average person, Hollie Fielder is the picture of health. She runs her own personal training business and is passionate about helping others on their road to wellness.
But Hollie’s not your average Aussie fitness buff.
At the age of 24, she was diagnosed with both stage four bowel cancer and secondary liver cancer and given just a 5 percent chance of survival.
“I didn’t have any crazy symptoms except bloating, constipation and pains in the stomach after I ate,” she explains. “I didn’t think much of it at the start but they began to be so much more consistent to the point I would be curled over in pain after every meal.”
Thinking she may be a coeliac or suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Hollie quickly sought advice from her local GP. But after numerous blood tests came back negative, she underwent a colonoscopy.
“Eventually through that process they found the cancer,” she says. “By that stage they thought I’d already had it for five years.”
The news left Hollie in a state of complete disbelief.
“I said ‘no that’s not right, I’m too young’,” she recalls. “At this stage I was like everyone else and I thought bowel cancer only affected old people.”
Later, a CT scan would find the disease had also spread to her liver. But despite her prognosis, Hollie was determined to return to full health, no matter how invasive the treatment.
“I was booked in for surgery one week later, where they removed 30cm of my bowel,” she says.
And after three months of chemotherapy to shrink her tumors, the doctors finally set to work on her liver.
“I remember the surgeon waking me up and telling me he got it all,” she reminiscences. “I will never forget that.”
Now officially cancer-free, Hollie looks back on the experience with no regrets.
“The journey through cancer really changed my perception of some things in life,” she says. “Having the right mindset to achieve your goals and overcome the barriers or obstacles you may face is important.”
She’s also making it her mission to shine a light on the disease and is currently taking part in Meat Free Week in an effort to raise vital funds for Bowel Cancer Australia.
According to a recent study, every 100gms of red meat consumed can increase your risk of developing bowel cancer by up to 17%.
“We now know red meat and processed meats, in particular, increase your risk of bowel cancer,” she advises. “My aim is to get people thinking about enjoying meat as part of a balanced diet. As with everything in life, it is about consuming meat in moderation.”
Hollie’s advice to other young women?
“Don’t be embarrassed to talk about your bowel movements! Going to the toilet is a natural daily habit for our bodies, so it’s ok to talk about your poo like you do your bra size.”
Meat Free Week runs from the 18th – 22nd of September. Funds raised from the initiative will go towards delivering bowel cancer prevention programs, early diagnosis, research, quality treatment and care for everyone affected by the disease, which currently claims the lives of up to 80 people per week.
Visit http://www.meatfreeweek.org/ today to sign-up for Meat Free Week and start fundraising.