Mary Beth Beggy Fischerkeller May 14, 1967 - June 6, 2014 'Inspirational' Person with Unstoppable Energy

By Crompton, Janice | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), June 8, 2014 | Go to article overview

Mary Beth Beggy Fischerkeller May 14, 1967 - June 6, 2014 'Inspirational' Person with Unstoppable Energy


Crompton, Janice, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


There's an old saying about how people may forget your words, but they'll never forget the way you made them feel. Mary Beth Beggy Fischerkeller was one of those rare people whom life never lets you forget.

Always concerned about making others feel better, the dynamo who friends called a "rock star," made hospice nurses laugh hysterically with her famous Irish one-liners even as she lay dying.

The impression the Mt. Lebanon native made was unforgettable and powerful, even for those who only knew her briefly.

"'Inspirational' is a word that I think is overused, but for her I think it was true," said Rebecca Whitlinger, a close friend and executive director of the Cancer Caring Center, where Ms. Beggy Fischerkeller began volunteering in the 1990s -- years before her own diagnosis. "She made a lasting impression on people. That girl was unstoppable."

But even superheroes need a break now and then.

After fighting breast cancer and then colon cancer for the past five years, Ms. Beggy Fischerkeller's body gave out Friday, when she died, surrounded by loved ones at Family Hospice & Palliative Care in Lawrenceville.

The 47-year-old, who was fondly referred to as MB to friends, moved to Shaler last year with her new husband, James Fischerkeller.

She battled early-stage breast cancer in 2009 then found out she had stage IV colon cancer immediately afterward. As the cancer spread, Ms. Beggy Fischerkeller underwent grueling treatments, including 55 radiation sessions, 14 surgeries, and 15 months of chemotherapy.

When doctors told her they could do no more earlier this year, her group of hundreds of loyal supporters -- they call themselves "Beggy's Battalion" -- raised more than $56,000 for alternative treatment options in California.

"The ongoing joke was that her immediate circle of friends was 150 people," said longtime friend Lisa Sill.

All the while, Ms. Beggy Fischerkeller continued her work as general sales manager of Clear Channel Radio in Pittsburgh and in the numerous organizations she volunteered with, including the cancer center, where she served as board president.

She never let her disease define her, loved ones said.

"I'm sure that earlier this week she was planning her Halloween costume," Ms. Whitlinger said. "We called her our rock star and we were just groupies. It was so easy to gravitate to her energy."

"There was nobody like her," remembered friend Carole DeAngelo, who met Ms. Beggy Fischerkeller during the many fundraisers she sponsored over the years. "Nobody could believe she could fight this, but none of us thought she would die."

Ms. DeAngelo recalled once when she was going through a tough time at work, her friend took time to send her a card, even though she was going through chemotherapy treatments at the time. …

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