Meet the One Million Strong – Hillary B. From Montana


Champion Stories
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Meet Hillary

Hillary Begger, caregiver
Billings, Montana

Hillary's Story

My name is Hillary Begger and my brother Aaron was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2010 at the age of 25.

Flash forward to  present day - Aaron is still fighting. Unfortunately, in order to remove the 32 cm tumor from his colon, a permanent colostomy bag had to be placed. During a routine procedure to clean the wound from his first surgery, they found that the cancer had spread to his pelvis. Due to the location, it is inoperable.

Since another cousin of ours developed the same form of cancer at a similar age, genetic testing was conducted to determine if a genetic mutation was the culprit.  Unfortunately it was; we discovered that our family carries the gene tied to Lynch syndrome, which greatly increases the chance of developing this type of cancer as well as others at a younger age. The genetic testing revealed that me and my two brothers, Aaron and Kyle, all have this mutation.

What One Million Strong Means to Hillary

One Million Strong means exactly what it says - we are not alone in this fight and we are stronger when we fight together. When a family member is diagnosed with cancer, it is easy to isolate yourself, tend to the problem day by day and give updates as people ask. Lately, though, I have found that joining together and reaching out for support is one of the most beneficial and healing things that you can do. I recently started a fundraising page, as I will be running a marathon to help raise money for my brother and this organization, as well as awareness for this type of cancer. I am absolutely floored by the amazing support I have received in just 24 hours. Our family has never felt stronger and more motivated to keep fighting this disease.

Hillary's Advice

I literally can not express enough how important and empowering it is to reach out for support. People around you want to help. They want to do something that will make your life a little easier. Unfortunately, cancer is an uncomfortable subject and many struggle on their own since they don't feel like they can reach out to others. There are so many that have this disease in varying degrees of severity, but we can all help each other in one way or another.

Update from Hillary

Training is going well so far, I'm up to 8 miles! Some days certainly feel like a trudge but I always remind myself as long as I just get the miles in it doesn't matter how fast I go. Running for a cause makes a huge difference for me and reminding myself that I'm running for my brother and to raise awareness for this incredibly prevalent type of cancer really drives me on.

Aaron is actually healing up from a huge surgery to remove his tumor at the University hospital in Denver. We saw the MRI of it and it's about the size of a cantaloupe, basically his entire pelvis and creeping up in to his abdomen. They were able remove the whole thing and also his prostate and bladder so he will end up with a urostomy but the hope is he will be pain free and hopefully (fingers,toes,eyes and any other body part you can think of crossed) cancer free. It ended up being about a 12 hour surgery.

Thanks for checking in!

Hillary Begger National Running Day

Race Week Update

Things have been going well as we inch closer and closer to race day, T-8 days! It's hard to believe after 6 months of training the day is so close. A couple of weeks ago I completed my longest run of 20 miles. It was a doozy but I truly feel like I can finish the race now.
Every time I run it feels a little easier because I know if I just keep putting one foot in front of the other I will reach my goal. It sounds cheesy but having Aaron and the thought of all the other people out there fighting against colorectal cancer has truly carried me through some of the tougher moments in training. At least I have a set finish line, not quite the same story for those battling cancer. If I didn't have that to keep me going I don't think I would have made it this far.

Aaron has been doing really well since his surgery at the end of May. He's getting stronger everyday and he has come to a place of realization and gratefulness for a second chance at life. We feel so blessed that his story is turning into a positive one. The word from the surgeons was that they thought they were able to remove all the cancer from his pelvis and abdomen area, we're keeping our fingers crossed that that's true, Aaron has yet to meet with his cancer doc since the surgery was completed and he has been working hard on healing up.
Can't thank you all enough for the support!
running update
Updated September 16, 2105

Post-Event Update


Hi there! Just wanted to check in with you guys and let you know that the marathon went awesome!!!

It was a whirlwind of a day but the best part was having my entire family come together for support and also getting to give Aaron a big ole hug at the end knowing his health is in a MUCH better state than when I started training. I'm getting all the donations together and the page updated and will be making a donation to Fight CRC in the very near future. I can't thank you enough for your continued support, this whole processed has opened my entire family's eyes to the massive amount of support available to us out there. Thanks again!

It's been one week since the big race and I'm just finally starting to wrap my head around all the crazy emotions and happenings of the day.

The support and love shared that day was out of this freaking world! I had someone there to cheer me on from when I woke up at 4am to catch the bus to the start line to my last step across the finish line after 5 hours later. In fact it ended up being a big ole family fest and it couldn't have made my heart feel any happier, literally it felt like it was going to explode. Actually it did..out my eyeballs.. when I couldn't stop crying for the last 2 miles. There's this crazy amazing thing that happens when all your humans are all in one place. It's an emotion that can't exactly be described but for me it's something along the lines of the excitement of when the last sibling finally pulls up to join the gathering, the comfort and content I feel while having morning coffee with my mom and sisters(in-laws), the frustration when my brothers think it's hilarious to squeeze my legs after running a marathon and the overall love and acceptance we have for each other at any given time in life no matter what the circumstance. Pretty much that's why I started crying at the end besides the whole I-don't-have-to-run-another-freaking-step-and-I'm-so-overwhelmingly-happy-about-that thing.

When I started training/raising money for Aaron he was in pretty rough shape. Day to day life was not an easy thing and we were at a bit of a stand still as far which way to go next in the whole treatment game. When I finished the marathon Aaron could easily walk over to me after hanging out all morning sitting and standing and what not. It's mind blowing to me the way his life has changed just within 6 months. We're talking total 180, future lookin oh-so-bright kinda stuff. Sure does make it all worth it.

So to everyone that donated-you rock my world.

To everyone that liked, shared, commented-you're the freaking best.

And anyone that sent good thoughts, prayers and vibes-we seriously couldn't have made it without you

This has been one of the most humbling experiences I've ever had in my life and I feel so stinkin’ blessed to have received all this support.