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Cancer survivor comes home to Billings for Relay For Life

Posted at 10:29 PM, Jul 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-09 12:36:03-04

It's a night for survivors, warriors, care-givers, and those no longer with us.

The annual Relay For Life Of Yellowstone center stage at the West High School track in Billings on Friday.

The event is back to normal, after having a cruise the last two years, and just the survivors lap last year.

Relay For Life 2022.jpg

That lap has always been a big part of survivivors along with their families and friends.

"It's a really special and beautiful moment and like the heart of relay," said Guinevere Ayers, relay co-chair. "The most impactful part of relay for me is the survivor lap when everyone comes and takes their victory lap and walks together."

"You're not alone," cancer survivor Michael Hill said about the survivior lap. "And it's really powerful. Seeing how many people have survived are still bad wings and knowing that it is possible to win to survive to be cancer."

"It's very emotional," Maureen Maloughney, Michael's mother, said about the survivor lap. "So love that he's back here this year for the 20th of his diagnosis and so glad that he's out in Seattle and being able to live his life and enjoy everything as a 20 year survivor."

Maloughney has been part of Relay for Life since 2001.

In 2002, doctors diagnosed her son Michael Hill with a Wilms tumor after she noticed something while shopping for clothes.

"Apparently I was taking a little bit too long in the changing room one day so she came in to check up on me and noticed a big lump on that side of my stomach," Hill said. "And so we went to the doctor later that day, and by the end of the week, we were in Denver, I had been diagnosed with cancer."

"It was just a mother's intuition knowing that something's not right with your child," Maloughney said. "And Michael had ended up having a two and a half, three pound tumor at the age of six removed as well as his left kidney."

Hill now works as an accountant in Seattle, and came back to serve as one of the grand marshals for Relay for Life of Yellowstone.

"He's a cancer survivor and knows the mission better than anyone," Ayers said. "And is such an incredible advocate too. We also have two other grand marshals this year. We've got Brittany Patrick as well as Riley Kaiser. They are also childhood cancer survivors."

Survivors and their families' experiences and bonds can help each other.

"It was a very hard thing as a parent for both his father and I," Maloughney said. "Good friends good family. You had a strong faith and support of the community."

"It's important just to wake up every day," Hill said. "Take it as best as you can. the best positive attitude you can and just keep fighting every day. And it helps so much when you have caregivers, when you have something like the relay, that you know you have the team behind you helping support you."