The community of Beiseker is grieving after learning of heartbreaking news earlier this week. In a social media post, the sister of Rick Hagel, the man whom the community had rallied around by organizing an auction last year and raising over $300,000 to help Rick with his cancer battle, announced that he had passed away Sunday, October 23. Shannon Hagel said that she has received hundreds of messages of support from the community and across the globe, who are now joining the family in grieving. 

Till the very end, Rick was determined not to let the disease consume his life and hours before Rick passed away in the hospital, he would proudly watch his daughter, Paytin, participate in a horse show over Facetime. Overcome with tears, Shannon offered a tearful thank you to all those who had supported Rick throughout the past year. 

"I just wanted to say thank you to everybody for the extra time that he had because I really don't believe without the auction that we would have had the past year we did." 

Last year after the auction had concluded, Rick along with his wife Kathryn travelled to the United States to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to see if there were any experimental treatments available to him. While Rick followed the advice of doctors and would start immunotherapy, he would also have his lower left leg amputated as a way to slow the aggressive form of angiosarcoma. Shannon said although Rick was fighting tirelessly with his cancer diagnosis, he continued to deteriorate. When Shannon would visit him in the hospital, she was taken aback at just how much the fight took out of Rick. 

"When we were with Rick, the last year, he just kept going, there was no time to break down. Rick was really strong and he was really positive. He didn't want the tears or the poor, poor you attitude," Shannon said. "It really hit home how much the cancer was affecting him, but he did rally and he was able to come home and he was still very determined to beat the cancer." 

Despite cancer, when Rick was at home on his farm over the summer, he was eager to spend time with his beloved wife Kathryn and daughter. Both Shannon and Rick participated in 4H when they were younger, and it is one of the most cherished memories she holds onto. 

"Working with cattle with him as a child, that's my memory with him and as an adult, we shared being parents together. He was the godfather of my son. He loved his nephews," Shannon said. "I and my sister have boys, he had the girl and just having him as an uncle; I really cherish those memories of him being that figure." 

While Shannon knows that her family is not the first nor, sadly, will be the last to lose someone they held so dear to cancer, she said that she wants to share Rick's journey with others. 

"I think it's important for people to understand that they're not alone going through this and that there's a lot of people that go through this journey. I don't want my niece [Paytin] to feel alone in her pain. There were so many people that loved Rick and were invested in his journey; not only by donating [to the auction], but they walked that road with him. I want to honour those people as well," she said. "I just want those people to that our whole family has been so touched." 

According to Rick's obituary, if friends so desire, memorial tributes may be made to Believe in the Gold, which supports families affected by childhood cancer, aiding with expenses that aren’t covered, awareness, and cancer research. 

Statistics from the Canadian Cancer Society show that in 2020, 697 Canadians died from soft tissue sarcoma, with 368 of those deaths being men.  

Rick Hagel was 41 when he passed away. 

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