A life-changing hurdle
Marshall native tells his story of remaining strong while battling cancer
Dealing with adversity is all but a guarantee in life. Whether the obstacles are small — or life-altering in the case of Marshall native Robb Hiller — the way in which you respond can make all of the difference.
Drawing upon his own experience as the backdrop for his new book “The Power of Three,” Hiller shares the steps he took to remain strong in the most difficult of circumstances, and how others can benefit from the method developed by Hiller himself.
In April of 2017 Hiller, now living in Eden Prairie, received a diagnosis that would change his life forever. After dealing with intense stomach pain while exercising at his local gym, Hiller went to the hospital where he underwent multiple tests before learning that he was battling three incurable cancers, and his chances for survival were slim at best.
Reflecting on his experience three years later, Hiller admits that it was a bleak time.
“I mean one cancer’s kind of enough,” said Hiller.
“Two would be like ‘wow that’s a lot,’ but three, my chances probably weren’t really good to live.”
Hiller immediately began on an aggressive five-month regimen of chemotherapy in order to eliminate the three cancers. The debilitating treatment, however, left him exhausted after each session.
“You’re just wiped out. It was just overwhelming,” he said. “They told me that I couldn’t touch grass, dirt or anything because I had almost no immune system. So, I would lay in bed at home and out on the couch. I spent a week just doing that.”
Over the course of the spring and summer, Hiller continued on with the aggressive treatment before, miraculously, receiving news that he, nor his wife Pam Hiller, could have ever expected just weeks after his latest 10-hour chemo treatment.
“I walked in to Dr. Preek’s office and Pam and I sat down. He put up the screen of my original PET scan, which showed red all over my abdomen, my stomach (and) my throat. Then put up the new one, and there was no red. I kind of looked at it and I said so what does this mean. And he looked at me and he smiled, and he normally didn’t smile. He said you don’t have any cancer,” Hiller said.
The unexpected news brought Hiller and his wife to tears. From one moment in time thinking he had only a short amount of time to live to now having a new outlook on life, Hiller began to recount his experience in the weeks that followed, including what steps he took to remain in good spirits throughout all of the trying times.
“It took a few months just to learn how to live again,” Hiller said. “I started to write about my experiences and how this helped me keep sanity.”
According to Hiller, an integral part of his recovery came from his positive outlook derived from “The Power of Three” which he developed as a way to manage and overcome adversity in life.
The method came about through years of experience as the CEO of a talent assessment company, Performance SolutionsMN, in charge of solving problems for numerous Fortune 1000 companies through performance evaluations. Hiller said he’s done between 24,000 and 25,000 individual evaluations throughout his career.
As he began to share his “Power of Three” message at conferences and locally at his alma mater, St. Olaf to his graduating class, he received an outpouring of support that inspired him to publish his story.
“At the end (of the presentation at St. Olaf) one of the doctors who I knew well walked up and had tears in his eyes and he said ‘Robb this was wonderful.’ I said, ‘well, Tom, why do you have tears in your eyes, was I that bad?’ And he laughed, and he said, ‘no, this was touching. You need to share this story. You need to get it out.'” Hiller remembered.
After years of development, Hiller’s book “The Power of Three” will soon be available through the Tyndale Publishing Company on Jan. 4. The Power of Three is built on three important principles: Asking the right questions, inviting advocate into your life and activating your God-given gifts. It’s through these three guiding actions that Hiller claims anybody can overcome adversity in their lives.
All three of the components are derived from Christian teachings.
“The asking is a biblical concept. Ask and you shall receive,” Hiller explained. “The activate your God-given talents is talked about in scripture. That’s how you help find your purpose in life. And then the third part, which is advocate, we have to be an advocate for others. And we need to develop advocates in our own sphere.”
Upon learning of his diagnosis, Hiller did not ask, “why me” and instead pondered what positive steps he could take to deal with this adversity.
Hiller activated his God-given gifts of competitiveness and optimism through goal-setting and invited advocates into his life by leaning on his faith, family and friends to help him on his journey.
To illustrate each component’s dependence on the other, Hiller organizes the three principles into a triangle.
“It’s the strongest form of trigonometry. So that power right there has been proven of course to be strong and bare the load of whatever happens,” said Hiller. “Of course, in the spiritual realm, there’s the triangle of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit called The Trinity, which is the foundation of Christianity.”
Hiller has continued to promote his book — and more importantly its message — that he believes can have a positive impact on one’s life as the book approaches its release date.
Most recently, Hiller was invited to be a guest on Mike Max’s WCCO radio show where he took part in an interview and shared his story and promoted his book.
Through his website https://www.robbhiller.com/ you can sign up to receive the first chapter of his book, The Power of Three, for free.
As the world continues to deal with COVID, Hiller said the need for his message to be spread continues to grow.
“I think life, and certainly today is proof of it, life gets at everybody,” said Hiller.
“We all experience ups and downs. It doesn’t make any difference who you are, what gender, color, it doesn’t make any difference … When you do those three (actions) together you can make it through anything.”
After persevering through the most challenging obstacle of his life, Hiller is now enjoying his time spent with his wife Pam and two adult kids living in the Twin Cities. Hiller is active with the Rotary Club of Eden Prairie and enjoys golfing in his free time.